Representatives from the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) recently participated in a workshop at INSIGHT to explain their ADA paratransit program, known as RIde. Click here for the RIde website.
The RIde program is a service for people unable to use public transit due to a disability. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires public transit agencies to provide paratransit service to eligible people with disablities that is comparable to its fixed route service.
This shared ride public transportation service provides a bus that can take people anywhere that fixed bus routes run for any purpose whether its a doctor’s appointment or a day trip to the beach. The current cost of the transportation is $4 each way.
In order to qualify, riders must complete an application that needs to be certified by a medical professional or orientation and mobility specialist indicating that the participant cannot use a fixed route bus due to their disability.
Advances in technology have made scheduling and checking on rides easier than ever with a smartphone app and automated telephone service.
While RIde provides a valuable service, some people attending the workshop expressed their disappointment that they cannot access the program because they live in an area that is not served by a fixed bus route, which is one of the requirements for being able to use the service. RIPTA officials indicated that they understand the frustration, but given limited financial resources from the federal and state governments they are not able to expand the program beyond its current service area.
The RIPTA officials also indicated that they are always looking for ways to improve and expand the service and are currently monitoring pilot programs that are happening in other areas around the country including same day scheduling which would allow users to get a ride when they need it similar to a ride sharing service like Uber or Lyft.