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5/2/2017 Rep. O’Brien questions Governor Raimondo’s decision to not fund free bus passes for elderly and disabled in proposed budget
STATE HOUSE – Rep. William W. O’Brien (D-Dist. 54, North Providence) is questioning Governor Raimondo’s decision to not fund RIPTA’s free bus pass program for the elderly and disabled in her budget proposal. As a member of the House Committee on Finance, Representative O’Brien is responsible for vetting the governor’s proposed state budget.

“I was very pleased to hear Governor Raimondo say that she supports this vital program on the radio this morning, but, if she truly does support and care for our elderly and disabled residents, why did she not include funding to save this program in her budget proposal?” asked Representative O’Brien.  “RIPTA’s budget should not be balanced upon the backs of the elderly and the disabled who rely upon our public transportation system to live their daily lives.  We can find the money RIPTA needs elsewhere, not from our most vulnerable citizens’ pockets.  As a member of the House Finance Committee, I will fiercely advocate to reinstate the funding to this important program during budget deliberations.  I represent many of these good people in my district and I have seen first-hand how devastating and crippling these cuts have been to our elderly and disabled citizens.  These individuals rely on these passes to get food and to access the services they need to stay healthy.  To cut them off from these necessities is unacceptable and I will not rest until funding for these passes is restored,” added Representative O’Brien.

Currently, RIPTA charges elderly or disabled riders whose income is no higher than 200 percent of the poverty level 50 cents per ride.  The normal fare for a bus trip is two dollars.  The fare hike for the elderly and disabled took effect in February.  Governor Raimondo has proposed a pilot program to provide 10-trip passes for only some of the residents who previously received free bus passes.

“The cost of this program is a miniscule portion of our state budget and I cannot think of a more worthy appropriation of taxpayer dollars than caring for the elderly and the disabled,” added Representative O’Brien.

For more information, contact:
Andrew Caruolo, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903