Rep. O’Brien’s legislation to restore RIPTA no-fare bus passes for low-income seniors and disabled signed into law
STATE HOUSE — Rep. William W. O’Brien’s (D-Dist. 54, North Providence) bill (2017-H 5241A) that restores free bus passes for low-income seniors and disabled individuals has been signed into law by the governor.
“This is a huge win for the elderly and disabled who relied on these passes to live their daily lives. Since they were taken away, these people have struggled to go to the doctor’s, to the market, and to get out of their homes into the community. I was so pleased to be named to the House Finance Committee this year because it would allow me the most direct opportunity to fight for reinstating these crucial passes and I am proud to tell my constituents that we won the battle and that the no-fare passes for our most vulnerable citizens are here to stay, correcting a grave injustice to the community,” said Representative O’Brien.
“As a member of the House Finance Committee, I had the opportunity to take part in advocating to restore funding to the elderly and disabled free bus pass program. To ignore the needs of some of our state’s most vulnerable citizens is not acceptable and RIPTA should not be balancing its budget on the backs of these citizens. Funding this crucial and necessary program was a top priority for me so that our elderly and disabled are not cut off from the community and the vital services they need to survive on a daily basis and I am happy that our efforts were successful in restoring the passes,” said cosponsor Rep. Scott A. Slater (D-Dist. 10, Providence).
Since February, elderly and disabled Rhode Islanders who meet income-eligibility requirements have had to pay 50 cents a ride, plus 25 cents for transfers, for rides that were previously fare-free on Rhode Island Public Transit Authority buses.
The bill provides RIPTA with $5 million in Rhode Island Highway Maintenance Funds in both FY2018 and FY 2019 to restore the no-fare bus pass program. In addition, it establishes a coordinating council to develop recommendations for the sustainable funding of the program in future years. Representative O’Brien’s bill mirrors the provision in the FY 2018 budget that ensures RIPTA has the adequate funds to run the program.
As of July 1, passengers enrolled in the Authority’s Reduced Fare Bus Pass Program for low income senior citizens and persons with disabilities have been able to travel for free.
For more information, contact:
Andrew Caruolo, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903