PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Governor Gina M. Raimondo, working with the leadership of the Rhode Island Public Transportation Authority (RIPTA), is encouraging the RIPTA board to consider new alternatives to the proposed fare increases for the elderly and people with disabilities.
"When it comes to our most vulnerable riders of public transit, we must make sure we are weighing all options because mobility is an important part of being able to live independently," Raimondo said. "I am grateful to the leaders at RIPTA for working with our health and human service agencies to find a solution that balances the needs of these riders with RIPTA's fiscal constraints."
RIPTA's Board of Directors held a series of public meetings throughout the state about the proposal to introduce fares of up to half-price on seniors and persons with disabilities, and heard many concerns from the community. Given the importance of the issue, the number of concerns, and the valuable feedback offered at these meetings, Raimondo has been working with RIPTA leadership to encourage alternative proposals. This includes:
• Delaying the implementation of any fare increase related to the low-income elderly and disabled population until July 1, 2016
• Increasing fares only up to $.50 - half of the original $1.00 proposal RIPTA will be working closely with the administration to identify ways to close its current budget gap.
Raimondo is also directing the Department of Human Services, the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals, and the Division of Elderly Affairs to work with RIPTA over the next six months to develop programs that will ensure the continued mobility of the low-income elderly and persons with disabilities.
"Loss of independence is both a critical issue for these individuals' quality of life, and also impacts the state budget directly," said Charlie Fogarty, the director of the Division of Elderly Affairs. "If an individual on Medicaid needs to move into a nursing home from home-based care, the cost to the state is thousands of dollars annually."