June 29, 2020
Rochester, NY: During a virtual press conference today with Monroe County Executive Adam Bello, City of Rochester Deputy Mayor James Smith and Veterans Outreach Center (VOC) Executive Director Laura Stradley, Regional Transit Service (RTS) CEO Bill Carpenter announced that military veterans will ride for free on RTS fixed-route service in Monroe County starting July 15, 2020.
The free fare for veterans was announced in June 2019 as a result of the public hearing process for Reimagine RTS, the transit system redesign project that has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. County Executive Adam Bello and City of Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren are strong proponents of the program.
“We all owe a debt of gratitude to the brave men and women who have selflessly served our nation’s military,” said Monroe County Executive Adam Bello. “Unfortunately, countless veterans in our community still have a need for reliable transportation to commute to work, get to important doctor’s appointments and even run basic errands. I am proud to support this initiative and am grateful to Bill Carpenter and the leadership at RTS for taking this step to ensure our veterans have the resources they need every day.”
“Ensuring that the needs of our veterans are met is critical to fulfilling our mission of providing safer and more vibrant neighborhoods, more jobs and better educational opportunities,” said Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren. “On behalf of the Rochester community, I am grateful to RTS and the Veterans Outreach Center for working together to provide free public transportation to our living heroes. Our nation’s veterans deserve the very best that we can give back to them and I am proud to support this initiative.”
The RTS and VOC teams have been working together closely over the past year to put the program in place and identify the best way to implement the free fares for veterans.
“Even though Reimagine RTS has been postponed, we are happy to be able to offer free fares to military veterans starting July 15,” RTS CEO Bill Carpenter said. “Through our work with Veterans in the community and conversations we had during the planning phase of Reimagine RTS, we learned that transportation is a barrier to veterans having access to important destinations and services in the community. These brave men and women volunteered to put themselves in harm’s way to protect our values and our freedom. Instituting free fares is our way of removing that barrier and saying thank you.”
Veterans Outreach Center is managing the process veterans will follow to apply for and receive a customized Veteran’s Pass. They will use this pass to tap on RTS’ 40- and 60-foot buses in Monroe County to receive the free fare. These passes will not be valid for RTS’ paratransit service. RTS Access-eligible customers currently ride free on fixed-route buses and that will continue.
To get this customized pass, veterans are required to go to the VOC office at 447 South Avenue, Rochester, New York 14620. They need to prove that they are veterans and can do so by bringing with them their DD214 (Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty) and completing the application process. The VOC case management team will process the veteran into their system and conduct a brief interview. Following that, VOC will issue the Veteran’s Pass. This application process will begin on Monday, July 6, 2020. Veterans can contact the VOC regarding their RTS free fare ID or any other veterans-related issue by calling them toll-free at 1-866-906-VETS (8387).
“The launch of this exciting new initiative to benefit our Veterans is a prime example of successful collaboration and cooperation across individual organizational boundaries,” Veterans Outreach Center Executive Director and U.S. Army Veteran Laura Stradley said. “The end result is that a critical barrier to success for our Veterans is being removed. We are grateful to RTS and all our community partners who worked diligently to get this resource into the hands of those who have served our Nation.”
Following is a sample image of the Veteran’s Pass.
RTS and VOC are also working to expand the free fares for veterans program beyond Monroe County. RTS also serves customers in Genesee, Livingston, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Wayne and Wyoming Counties. RTS and VOC are currently working with elected leaders and veterans organizations in these counties with the goal of implementing the free fares sometime this Fall. RTS and VOC will share those details when they are finalized.
View a recording of the press conferece: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1W2pWgVQv-3LzScg6VA6hHJxgi5VNNc_W/view?usp=sharing (opens in new Window)
For all other information, visit www.myRTS.com.
Regional Transit Service (RTS) is a regional transit authority established by New York State with more than 900 employees who proudly serve customers and business partners in Monroe, Genesee, Livingston, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Wayne and Wyoming counties. Recognized as one of the best-run transit systems in the nation, RTS partners with the community it serves to provide safe and sustainable mobility, offering better access, frequency, and reliability to nearly 16 million people each year. We carry out our mission by connecting our customers to jobs, school, healthcare, shopping and recreational activities every day. For more information, visit www.myRTS.com.
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