Officials at RTS have announced a new fare structure for military veterans, seniors and people with disabilities.
One of the changes involves the 50-cent half-price fare for seniors and people with disabilities that is currently in effect only during non-peak hours.
With the new fare structure, that half-price fare would be in effect all day.
Also, with the new plan, military veterans would ride the bus for free.
Laura Stradley, the executive director of the Veterans Outreach Center in Rochester, said research surrounding the issues of mental health and veterans underscores the need for good transportation for veterans.
“Recent studies conducted by the VA suggest that transportation services are critical to housing stability for veterans,” Stradley said at a news conference held Tuesday at the RTS Transit Center in downtown Rochester. "Transportation links veterans to steady work, regular health care and support services that are vital to success and housing."
Ann Marie Cook, president and CEO of Lifespan, said transportation is also a critical need for that population.
“The fact that RTS is willing to step up, simplify the process but also make it cheaper for older adults, I know, will make it easier for us to help older adults get to doctor’s appointments, get to senior centers, get to grocery stores and connect with friends, so that they can be healthier,” Cook said.
The recommended fare structure will not apply to paratransit service.
RTS President Bill Carpenter said that the bus system could accomplish these changes within its proposed budget and still keep the regular $1 fare for all other riders.
"We're able to take a complete look at everything that we’re doing," Carpenter said. "We’ll be adding service hours by having some additional methods of serving the community, but we received great support from the state Legislature, great support from community partners, so the budget that we have for Reimagine (RTS) includes this; we’ll be able to go forward sustainably."
Carpenter also said the idea for the change in the fare structure came from Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo, who made the suggestion during a public comment period.
The RGRTA Board of Commissioners still needs to approve the Reimagine RTS plan; if it does get the go-ahead at its June 27 meeting, the new fares would take effect in the summer of 2020.