June 18, 2019
At a press conference today at the RTS Transit Center, RTS CEO Bill Carpenter announced that RTS’s final recommendation for the Reimagine RTS system redesign will include a new fare structure for military veterans, senior citizens who are 65 and older, and people with disabilities. If the RGRTA Board of Commissioners approves the Reimagine RTS plan, senior citizens 65+ and people with disabilities would pay a half-price fare ($0.50 a ride) all day, and military veterans will ride free.
Under the current fare structure, the senior/disabled fare is $1 a ride during peak hours and $0.50 a ride during non-peak hours (9:00am - 3:30pm, and after 6:30pm), while military veterans pay the regular $1 fare all day. The recommended fare structure will not apply to paratransit service. RTS Access-eligible customers will continue to ride free on fixed route buses. Joining Carpenter for the announcement was Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo, Veteran’s Outreach Center Executive Director Laura Stradley, Lifespan of Greater Rochester President/CEO Ann Marie Cook, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Facility Planner David Price, Monroe County Veterans Service Agency Director Nick Stefanovic, Rochester Vet Center Managing Psychologist Dr. Peter Ziarnowski, and Monroe County Office for the Aging Director Julie Aldrich.
The idea for the change in the fare structure came from County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo, who made the suggestion during the 14-day public comment period following the Reimagine RTS public hearing on April 25. In her letter, the County Executive cited that “…a growing number of senior citizens in our community rely on public transportation to meet their needs,” and that too many military veterans in our community “struggle to acclimate from the realities of serving in the military.”
“Accessible, reliable, and robust transportation options are key to the continued success of any growing community,” said Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo. “As RTS reimagines its operations this year, I suggested that our seniors on fixed incomes and our veterans who have served this nation are deserving of consideration for reduced fares. I thank President Bill Carpenter, the RGRTA Board, and the entire RTS team for making my request a reality. I look forward to seeing these new fare reductions at work to benefit our seniors and veterans in the days to come.”
RTS is required to hold a public hearing anytime it proposes a major service change or a change in fares. As RTS’ final recommendation for Reimagine RTS will include a redesign of the public transit system in Monroe County and a new fare structure for military veterans, senior citizens and people with disabilities, a public hearing was required.
“We received a significant amount of input throughout the Reimagine RTS process, including that from the County Executive, to help us improve our plan for the redesigned system,” said RTS CEO Bill Carpenter. “Making public transit easier to use and more affordable for military veterans, seniors and people with disabilities is the right thing to do. I thank County Executive Dinolfo for her suggestion.”
The proposed fare structure is generating excitement among leaders in the community.
“At Veterans Outreach Center, we are so excited about this incredible opportunity that RTS is availing to our veterans,” said Veterans Outreach Center Executive Director Laura Stradley. “The Regional Transit Service is leading the way – not only in this community, but around the state – by prioritizing those who have served. When men and women voluntarily agree to fight our nation’s wars and sacrifice everything up to and including their lives, it is our privilege to welcome them home gratefully and to help smooth what can be a difficult transition. RTS is doing that with this redesign. They are making a powerful statement of patriotism and support, and we thank them for it.”
“Lifespan applauds the efforts and changes that RTS is making to ensure that transportation is readily accessible and affordable to older adults,” said Lifespan of Greater Rochester President/CEO Ann Marie Cook. “Transportation remains a top concern for most older adults. This change is especially important to low income older adults who solely rely on RTS for all their transportation needs. RTS is great partner with us as we support older adults to remain independent in the community.”
The existing application process for seniors and people with disabilities will remain the same
The RGRTA Board of Commissioners will vote on the final Reimagine RTS plan at their meeting on Thursday, June 27. If the Commissioners approve the plan, RTS will begin preparing to implement the new system in the summer of 2020.
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