Officials from the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) will join elected officials and community leaders Friday to announce a pilot program that will offer a new public transportation option in the Westerly-Hope Valley region of the state.
The press conference will be held at 10:45am Friday, October 30, 2015, outside the main entrance of Bradford Elementary School, 15 Church Street, Bradford Village. In the event of inclement weather, the press conference will be moved inside the school.
The new service, which initially will operate midday on Fridays only, will serve locations between parts of Westerly and Hope Valley village that are currently not serviced by existing RIPTA routes. With stops at local stores and the Wood River Health Services center, the new transit service is intended to give local residents an opportunity to run necessary errands or take care of medical appointments. The pilot program is scheduled to start on Friday, November 13, 2015.
The service also represents an opportunity for RIPTA to maximize its resources by using one of the passenger vans from its RIde program during a window of time when that vehicle is in between trips. The RIde program, which is provided in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), is a reservation-based, door-to-door service for people with disabilities. RIPTA currently has a 16-passenger RIde vehicle in the Westerly-Hope Valley area with some “down” time between 9am and 2pm on Fridays. RIPTA will now use that vehicle to travel from the Westerly Train Station to Main Street in Richmond, and back, during that time frame.
“This new pilot program is a cost-effective way for RIPTA to offer these residents a new transportation option and we’re very excited about it,” said Barbara Polichetti, Director of Public Affairs for RIPTA. “We are always looking for ways to assist people who live in areas that are not populated enough to have regular fixed-route service or even our Flex Service. Based on the reception this pilot program receives, RIPTA may be looking to offer options like this elsewhere in Rhode Island.”
Polichetti said that RIPTA appreciates the advocacy work of local officials — particularly Dr. Roy Seitsinger, Superintendent of Westerly Public schools, and Mr. Michael Lichtenstein, President and CEO of Wood River Health Services. “They truly care about their community and have worked hard to make us aware of the transportation needs in this area,” she said.
There will be approximately twenty Rural Ride stops on the new route which includes portions of the towns of Westerly, Hopkinton and Richmond – including the villages of Bradford, Ashaway, Hope Valley and Wyoming. In addition to boarding the route at the stops, which will be marked with signs, a maximum of two passengers per trip can request to be dropped off or picked up at any location within 3/4 miles of those designated stops. Those custom stops must be secured by a reservation made 24-hours in advance and will be offered on a first come, first serve basis. The cost of the service will be $2 per ride for those boarding and disembarking at the regular stops, and $4 per ride for passengers reserving special stops.
For schedules and more information, passengers may call 401-781-9400, or visit www.ripta.com.