OLR Research Report

July 22, 2010




By: Kevin E. McCarthy, Principal Analyst

You asked for a comparison of elderly and disabled transportation programs in Connecticut and Rhode Island.

The programs in the two states are similar, although there are differences in who provides the service. The federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires transit agencies in all states to provide paratransit services in areas along their fixed-route bus services for people of any age who cannot use the local bus system because of their disability. A person is eligible for this service if his or her disability (1) prevents the use of a regular wheelchair-lift equipped bus, (2) prevents travel to or from bus stops, or (3) requires the assistance of a lift-equipped bus when one is not reasonably available. The paratransit service is available to individuals with qualifying disabilities traveling within a 3/4 mile radius of a fixed-route bus service during the same days and times the fixed-route service operates.

In Connecticut, ADA paratransit services are provided by transit districts in most parts of the state; the regional planning agency in central Connecticut (Bristol, Kensington, New Britain, and Plainville); and the Northeast Transportation Company in Meriden and Wallingford. Further information about these services is available at http://www.ct.gov/dot/cwp/view.asp?a=1386&q=305316.

In Connecticut, people aged 65 and older as well as people with disabilities are eligible for reduced fares on fixed-route bus service. In addition, a wide variety of entities, including transit districts, towns, and human service agencies, provide demand-response (dial-a-ride) service, which primarily serves elderly people. Days, hours, and fares for this service vary by town.

The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) provides ADA paratransit service throughout the state under its RIde program. RIPTA also provides demand-response service to seniors on weekdays, primarily for trips to medical appointments, congregate meal programs, and sheltered worksites. As in Connecticut, RIPTA provides fare discounts on its fixed-route services for seniors and passengers with disabilities. Finally, RIPTA's Flex Service allows all passengers in seven suburban and rural towns to reserve a ride or board its 16-passenger vans at regularly scheduled stops. In addition, local nonprofit organizations, senior centers, and municipalities provide demand-response services for medical and non-medical purposes. The days, hours, and fares for these services vary widely. A webpage produced by the state cancer council, http://www.ricancercouncil.org/resources/transportation.php, provides further information about these services.