Bob Plain is the editor/publisher of Rhode Island's Future. Previously, he's worked as a reporter for several different news organizations both in Rhode Island and across the country.

3 responses to “No free bus passes means going hungry for some in Pawtucket”

  1. Barry Schiller

    This is a real problem for some but giving away unlimited free rides at all times to 30% of the passengers, isn’t a solution any more than the solution to food insecurity is to make grocers give away unlimited free food to 30% of their customers with almost no reimbursement. The solution, like food stamps, is to for social service agencies, especially DHS/DEA, to buy bus trips for their qualified clients so it doesn’t come at the expense of the transit system which needs the revenue to maintain and improve service, especially on overcrowded routes, to keep the terminal building open after 7pm so passengers don’t have to wait out in the cold and dark, so they can remove snow from stops, build more shelters, and so on, things that benefit ALL passengers.
    One correction, they don’t pay “50 cents plus 25 cents for a transfer like everybody else.” They actually get a 75% discount, (much more than in Boston and other New England cities) as everybody else pays $2 plus $1 for a transfer. Those fares are paid by mostly low income working people, some making less than those getting the 75% discount who qualify with reported income up to 200% of the poverty level. And accurate reporting should note the complaining group can get a free ten ride pass from the new pilot program plus free trips for medical purposes (includes pharmacies, physical therapy etc) if they are on medicaid. When the rides were “free” RIPTA missed out in millions in medicaid reimbursement.
    RIPTA is said to have only about half the commuters it should have according to our density,
    and this is far far from living up to its potential to help in the climate fight and restoring our core cities, and to boost the economy as transit systems do elsewhere. One reason for that is to make up for so much “free” riding, fares for everybody else are much higher than average, and they may go up another 50 cents in July. Emphasizing low income free riders reinforces the notion that the buses are just for the poor, many who sympathize with the free riders wouldn’t dream of actually riding a bus themselves.
    What I have long advocated, including when I was on the RIPTA Board of Directors, is that free riding should only be during off-peak periods with half-fares during the peak (7 to 9am and 3 to 6pm weekdays.) This would preserve reasonable mobility for the low income group while having an incentive to avoid peak travel so that RIPTA can better market to commuters and to get medicaid reimbursement for medical trips made in the peak. But those used to riding free and thinking only of themselves are reluctant to compromise.

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  2. riprotest

    A rant laced with anger and resentment with the poor. You want a elitist system, by your thrill, with the 17 million dollar Brown U’s special line euphemistically called: the “enhanced transit” downtown line. It’s a redundancy covered already by other buses. The expenses on this enhance transit line is wasting monies, not the free passes cost.

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  3. Legislature looks at reinstating free RIPTA fare

    […] third was introduced in the House on March 31 – shortly after The Valley Breeze, then RI Future, then the Providence Journal reported that some people who utilized the free transportation were no […]

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