Senior Advisory Committee to request reduced cab fares

Also following up on contacts with state
Thu, 11/07/2019 - 5:00pm

With its Senior Ride Service reinstated for the fall, the Senior Advisory Committee is looking to formalize the program by asking the town’s Commission on Motor Vehicles for Hire to recommend the Town Council set a new, reduced fare for elderly and disabled taxi riders.

On a parallel course, the committee also heard about the possibility that the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) would help expand transportation opportunities for the island’s elderly and disabled persons.

Senior Coordinator Gloria Redlich told the committee at its most recent meeting that the SAC would be first on the agenda at the Motor Vehicles For Hire Commission meeting the next day. The members of the MVFH were supportive of continuing the ride share program in the winter, but expressed doubt that it could be provided year-round, and especially in the summer.

“We had talked to them about” the reduced fare “previously at one of their meetings and they seemed very amenable to doing that,” Redlich said. The Motor Vehicles commission is an advisory body to the Town Council, which has the final say on taxi licensing and fares on the island. 

The Senior Ride Service is available to island seniors and persons with special needs as well as for caregivers without transportation, according to the committee’s announcements. Customers register with Redlich, and then call the cab directly for rides, paying $3.00 for a round trip. The cab owner then bills the town for the difference between the rider’s payment and the established taxi fare. The program is paid for by a state grant for elder services, town appropriations and private donations. The pilot program ran for two months in early 2019 before exhausting its funding. Neither the pilot nor the reinstated SRS are intended to operate in the summer months.

Currently, only McAloon’s Taxi is participating in the program. Redlich said she is hopeful other taxi owners will join this fall.

State assistance available?

The possibility of the state’s transit agency supporting the SAC’s on-island transportation initiative came up in a meeting between Town Manager Ed Roberge and SAC member Jennifer Phillips.

According to Phillips, Roberge was “positively impressed” that RIPTA was “thinking about assigning a vehicle to the town for the purpose of elderly transportation” on the island. The town would need to supply a driver, however, “who, depending on the size of the vehicle, might need a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License),” she continued.

The committee members would prefer money rather than a van, and Phillips said she would follow up with that message to Roberge and RIPTA. But Co-Chair Sandra Kelly observed, “The problem sometimes is maybe RIPTA can’t give out money, but they can give you a van.”

Redlich said later that she and the committee “have been trying to work with RIPTA for quite a while” to see what resources or services the island may be eligible for.

To register for the Senior Ride Service, or for information about other programs and services offered by the Senior Advisory Committee, contact Senior Coordinator Gloria Redlich at gloryb311@gmail.com or at (401) 486-9278.