RIPTA’s No Fare Pilot Program extended 6 months

PROVIDENCE – The R.I. Public Transit Authority’s No Fare Pilot Program has been extended until September. 

The transportation agency’s board of directors approved the six-month extension on April 12. The program, launched in November, provides free bus service for individuals with low incomes who do not qualify for existing transit assistance. 

“This program could be a significant help and game changer for people who are experiencing homelessness and who lack reliable transportation to access the services they need to get back on their feet,” Michelle Wilcox, president of Crossroads Rhode Island and RIPTA board member said when the free service was originally launched. “This would potentially reach those in the greatest need.” 

So far the agency has issued 775 free cards since the program started in November. About 40% of the participants in the pilot used their passes for work, according to a RIPTA survey. An additional 24% used the free fares to get to medical appointments and services. Other uses included grocery shopping, other shopping, leisure/social events and education. 

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A monthly RIPTA unlimited pass costs $70 per month. 

Before the pilot was launched in November, applicants had to be 65 or older or have a qualifying disability and must also have an income of less than 200% of the poverty threshold.  

Applicants that meet the income threshold, but neither the age nor the disability threshold, receive no benefit under existing RIPTA programs. The No Fare Pilot Program closed that gap. 

“RIPTA is committed to removing barriers to transportation for Rhode Islanders, especially those who are low-income or unhoused.” said CEO Scott Avedisian. “This pilot program is an example of our commitment to making sure that everyone in our state has equitable access to public transportation. We look forward to reviewing the information we learn over the next six months and sharing it with our elected officials.”