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Legally blind man hopes to make change to Rhode Island’s paratransit service

Target 12

WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — A legally blind man is working with a local lawmaker on changes they say will improve Rhode Island’s paratransit service.

RIPTA operates the RIde Program is to comply with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). But Chris Bove has come to be increasingly frustrated with how the service is run.

On Sunday night, Bove said he scheduled a ride to pick him up at 10 p.m in Newport. When the vehicle didn’t show up, he said he gave the service a call. He was told there was some sort of complication with the system and the service could pick him up at 11:45 p.m.

Under the ADA the transit agency has the authority to negotiate trip times with customers, either an hour before or after the scheduled ride time.

“I have heard stories of people missing job interview because RIPTA had the right to go in and change their pickup time,” Bove said, adding that he has been late to school functions because of the delay.

RIPTA officials told Target 12 they try to avoid making any changes to the pick up times and their goal is to provide the best possible customer experience.

Bove would also like to see the paratransit service expand. Under the ADA, the service must operate within thee-quarters of a mile on either side of a fixed route, leaving places like Little Compton unreachable for riders.

“Regardless of if you are disabled or able-bodied, your ZIP code should not determine your access to reliable public transportation,” Bove said.

State Sen. Lou DiPalma, D-Middletown, and Bove will be sitting down with RIPTA CEO Scott Avedisian to address the concerns on Tuesday.

“We need to ensure for the folks who are customers of the RIde program, of their services, can get to where they need to go and it’s in an efficient and effective manor as possible,” DiPalma said.

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