As part of AARP-RI’s Livable Communities initiative, ease of travel both by public transit and walking has a high priority for a complete street project. Rhode Island’s Public Transit Authority and AARP-RI work together to improve the lives of older residents through meaningful, accessible transportation options.
Public transportation is an important resource for older people. Nearly 10 percent of people age 50 and older report using public transportation at least once per month. All federally funded public transportation providers reduce fares in nonpeak periods for older riders to encourage their use of transit services. The availability of transit options helps older people maintain independence, stay connected to their community, and engage in a social life. The reduced fares for older riders also represent an important asset transfer by the public sector.
Despite this steady usage rate, some public transportation systems present barriers to use by older people: nearly one-third of people age 50 and older with physical limitations perceive the failure of public transportation to go where they want to go as a large problem. For those with physical limitations, getting to public transportation is a challenge. And as with many public transportation users, people age 50 and older often cite the limited frequency of available trips (i.e., headways) and the extended length of travel time as obstacles to transit use for local trips. Also neighborhood traffic volumes and speeds, as well as sidewalk, streetlight and security conditions, may make using public transportation unattractive.
Rhode Islanders of any age who have a disability may be eligible for Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Paratransit Services from the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) curb-to-curb transportation service if their disability prevents them from using regular RIPTA bus service. This service is provided along existing RIPTA service corridors at a cost of twice the standard bus rate for all riders. ($3.50 each way). Apply by calling 784-9500.
RIPTA bus passes for residents 65 and older cost $5 and are valid for 5 years. Qualified riders who have a disability pay $2 for their 2-year pass. Pass holders pay half-fare on off-peak hours, weekends, and holidays.
Bus pass holders enrolled in Medical Assistance (Medicaid) or RIPAE or who have incomes within the RIPAE Level One income guidelines( $20,934 annually for an individual) and ($26,279 for a married couple) may apply for the No Fare program and ride free during all hours. Call RIPTA at 784-9500, X604 for details.
The Department of Human Services will help persons who are enrolled in Medicaid arrange suitable non-emergency transportation for covered services. Call 784-3899.
For additional information on RIPTA programs, go to the website.