PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) is launching a new no-fare bus program for low-income or unhoused residents.

The six-month pilot program will offer 600 Rhode Islanders who don’t quality for RIPTA’s existing transit assistance programs.

“RIPTA is committed to removing barriers to transportation for Rhode Islanders, especially those who are low-income or unhoused,” RIPTA CEO Scott Avedisian said. “This pilot program is an example of our commitment to making sure that everyone in our state has equitable access to public transportation.”

The current transit assistance program is limited to seniors and residents with qualifying disabilities that are ages 65 or older and have an income of less than 200% of the poverty threshold.

Those who meet the income threshold but not the age nor disability requirements are not eligible for the transit assistance program. The pilot program, according to RIPTA, is meant to address this gap.

“Increasing access to transportation is a crucial goal,” Gov. Dan McKee said. “We look forward to seeing the outcomes of this important pilot program that will help improve public transportation, especially for our most vulnerable populations.”

RIPTA said the 600 no-fare bus passes will be distributed to organizations that service low-income and unhoused Rhode Islanders.

The pilot is only for Rhode Islanders who don’t qualify for the existing transit assistance program.

“This program could be a significant help and game changer for people who are experiencing homelessness and who lack reliable transportation to access the services they need to get back on their feet,” Crossroads President Michelle Wilcox said. “This would potentially reach those in the greatest need.”