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Ocean State roundup: RIPTA launches new iteration of fare-free program

Gabe Amo leads CD1 survey polls at 46%, community advocates push for ‘bottle bill’

RIPTA board launches new iteration of fare-free program

The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority is launching a new iteration of its No Fare Pilot Program, which will allow 600 low-income riders to continue using the bus for free for another six months. 

On Wednesday, RIPTA’s board of directors voted unanimously to revive the program, which was originally set to expire Oct. 31, Rhode Island Current previously reported. 

At a previous board meeting, RIPTA administrators said that the agency lacked funding to continue the program past the end of October, The Herald previously reported

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The no-fare program was launched last November and “offers free bus passes to riders ages 5 to 65 living at or below 200% of the poverty line,” according to the Current. To date, RIPTA has issued 775 passes through the pilot. 

Passes previously distributed to participants can now be used through Feb. 1. Select participants may receive a free fare card for three additional months, the Current reported. The extension is expected to cost RIPTA up to $280,000.

Amo leads in 1st congressional district race, poll shows

Democrat Gabe Amo leads Republican Gerry W. Leonard Jr. 46% to 35% in a recent poll from the Pell Center at Salve Regina University that asked registered voters in congressional district 1 who they would vote for if a special election was held today.

The poll, conducted between Oct. 12 to 17 and released Wednesday, comes less than two weeks ahead of the elections for Rhode Island's first congressional district seat on Nov. 7.

Katie Langford Sonder, the survey director and associate director of the Pell Center at Salve Regina University, told the Boston Globe Thursday that Amo’s 11 percentage point lead is surprising.

Sonder said she would have expected “that gap to be a little wider.” 

According to the poll results, 83% of Democrats plan on voting for Amo and 88% of Republicans plan on voting for Leonard.

In Council District 1, the Rhode Island Secretary of State’s voter registration page reports that 46% of voters are Democrats, 42% are independents and 12% are Republicans, the Providence Journal reported Thursday.

Rhode Island continues to push for a bottle bill

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During a special commission on plastic bottle waste on Monday, legislators discussed the state’s recycling policies, The Providence Journal previously reported. Last year, a third of all the bottles, cans and other beverage containers in Rhode Island were not recycled, with 13,000 tons ending up at Johnston’s Central Landfill. 

Many representatives and community organizers are advocating for a “bottle bill” that would make consumers pay a minor tax when purchasing beverages. This fee would be returned once they return the empty cans and bottles to retailers or redemption centers for recycling. 

In 10 other states, bottle bills have helped address pollution and increase recycling rates, The Herald previously reported. According to Kevin Budris, advocacy director at Just Zero, “bottle bills are the single most effective program for recycling, for transitioning to use (and) for reducing plastics production.”

Last year, Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee (D-Narragansett) introduced the Beverage Container Deposit Recycling Act of 2022, but the bill ultimately died in the House in June. 

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While the commission aims to “provide recommendations for market-based recycling opportunities for plastic bottles,” the commission’s resolution text does not mention a bottle bill specifically. 

According to Jed Thorp, Rhode Island state director for the environmental advocacy group Clean Water Action and member of the special commission, a new version of the bottle bill will be introduced regardless of what the commission ultimately recommends. The commission, he said, “will inform whatever form the bottle bill takes.”


Haley Sandlow

Haley Sandlow is a section editor covering science and research as well as admissions and financial aid. She is a junior from Chicago, Illinois, studying English and French.


Julia Vaz

Julia Vaz is a Metro editor covering the environment and crime and justice beats. She is a sophomore from Brazil studying Political Science and Literary Arts. 



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