The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority will no longer offer free bus rides on days with poor air quality. RIPTA is ending the program, because the agency doesn’t have money to support it this year.
RIPTA has offered free rides on days with poor air quality since 1995, according to Amy Pettine, the agency’s director of planning and marketing. It has been a longtime partner with the departments of health, transportation, and environmental management in issuing alerts for poor air quality days.
Pettine said RIPTA sent out a notice of this change to a few news outlets in the event that state agencies issue an air quality alert in the coming days or weeks.
“With the weather changing, we knew that there could be a possibility of one coming up soon and we didn’t want any confusion,” said Pettine.
Pettine said RIPTA intended to share this information with its riders, but stopped short of a public announcement, because it is still looking for money to continue the program.
“Even if we aren’t able to provide free rides, the message of air quality is certainly an important one,” said Pettine. “Encouraging people to leave their cars at home—that’s a message that RIPTA wants to continue to work with DEM to get out.”
Pettine said RIPTA is looking for alternative ways to promote ridership on air quality alert days. The DEM will continue to issue those alerts.