Providence, Rhode Island (WPRI) — The state public transit agency released a report this week showing that expanding Rhode Island’s paratransit system could add more than $6 million to its operating budget. .
RI Public Transportation released a 32-page report on Monday following a directive from the General Assembly last June to investigate the issue.
The report examines what it would take to expand the paratransit system, known as RIde, for the elderly and disabled, as there are eight municipalities that the system currently does not reach.
“Your zip code shouldn’t dictate the trajectory of your life,” said Chris Bove, who is legally blind.
“It shouldn’t affect the opportunities you have,” he added.
According to the report, in addition to eight municipalities that the system does not reach, there are several municipalities that are only partially accessible. Only six cities and towns have full accessibility.
As part of its report, RIPTA examined the costs of expanding the system and found that the expansion, along with the extension of the day and night plan statewide, would add $6.4 million to the annual operating budgets of semipublic agencies. I concluded.
To compensate for the additional routes and time, the study estimates additional one-time capital and start-up costs for training and new vehicles totaling $4.2 million.
RI Senate Finance Committee Chairman Luis DiPalma told Target 12 that the investigation was complete.
He was also bullish that the public transport system could scale up the changes, but warned that it might not be possible all at once.
“It may not be gradual,” he said. “We can do it step by step.”
It is unclear whether RIPTA agrees. The report did not take a position, highlighting challenges beyond increasing costs, such as statewide staffing and existing fleet shortages.
Despite these challenges, Bove argued that implementing a statewide paratransit system could transform the lives of those who depended on it to move and live.
“People will not only be able to become self-sufficient, but they will also be able to go out and work for the first time and get jobs that pay a little more,” Bove said.
Sarah Guerneri (email@example.com) is a consumer research reporter for 12 News.she connects with her on Twitter and on facebook.