Human service agencies offer free 10-trip bus pass for veterans, seniors

Human service agencies offer free 10-trip bus pass for veterans, seniors

WOONSOCKET – As a new 50-cent reduced bus fare went into effect on Feb. 1, the Rhode Island Division of Elderly Affairs and Office of Veterans Affairs announced a new pilot program to offer free 10-trip fare cards to qualifying Rhode Island seniors and veterans.

The agencies will be purchasing a limited number of $5 fare cards to distribute to senior citizens and veterans who have qualified for the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority’s Reduced Fare Bus Pass Program. Through the end of the current fiscal year, $150,000 will be invested in the pilot program, with an allocation of $300,000 proposed in the fiscal year 2018 budget for continuation of the program.

Among the locations distributing the passes to seniors is Senior Services Inc., on Social Street in Woonsocket.

The Division of Elderly Affairs will be partnering with senior centers throughout the state, The POINT at United Way of Rhode Island, and the City of Providence’s Office of Senior Services to distribute fare cards to seniors who carry the “Senior, Valid All Day, Reduced Fare Bus Pass” on a first-come, first-served basis.

The Office of Veterans Affairs will be distributing the fare cards on a first-come first-served basis to veterans who hold “Valid All Day, Reduced Fare Bus Pass” cards at their locations in Warwick, Exeter and Bristol, as well as through a partnership at the Providence VA Medical Center.

Eligible seniors and veterans can visit distribution sites on a monthly basis to receive new $5 fare cards, while supplies last. The $5 fare card must be used in conjunction with a qualifying reduced fare bus pass, otherwise the user will be charged the full fare. The 50-cent fare being implemented is one-fourth of the full RIPTA fare which is $2. For those in the Reduced Fare Bus Pass Program, a transfer will also be one-fourth full transfer price, or 25 cents.

The majority of people enrolled in the Reduced Fare Bus Pass Program have Medicaid coverage which will pay for trips to non-emergency medical destinations such as doctor’s visits, physical therapy visits and much more. As a result, the fare cards are intended to augment that travel and assist people in getting to the store, community centers and other destinations.

Officials said that the pilot program is the result of a variety of state agencies working together on the issue of affordable transportation for low-income senior citizens and veterans. State leaders recognize that this program may not serve the needs of all riders, and are committed to learning from these pilot programs to understand how to best serve the populations impacted by RIPTA’s fare increase. Access to reliable transportation provides people with choices, freedom, and opportunities.

For a listing of senior center distribution locations, contact the Division of Elderly Affairs at 401-462-3000 or The POINT at 401-462-4444.

For a listing of veteran distribution locations, contact the Office of Veterans Affairs at 401-921-2119.

Passengers not yet enrolled in the Reduced Fare Bus Pass Program can obtain a reduced fare pass by submitting the requisite information to RIPTA’s Photo Identification Office, which is open at 705 Elmwood Ave. in Providence on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. For more information on the Reduced Fare Bus Pass Program, customers can visit http://bit.ly/1iYyI5l.