High transportation expenses have added to linked socioeconomic barriers in many communities, preventing people from pursuing new opportunities. According to a survey conducted by the Community Service Society, 25% of people living in poverty stated they were frequently unable to afford transport fares. Furthermore, Latinx and Black people stated significant rates of transit hardship, with 28% having difficulty affording subway or bus fares.
Representative Leonela Felix introduced legislation for free fares for all riders on the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority buses in an effort to combat climate change, expand the economy, and encourage racial justice. Felix proposes to use revenues from the gas tax and the Transportation and Climate Initiative. “One of the most significant barriers to equitable transportation, particularly for low-income families, is the cost,” added Representative Leonela Felix. “We know that low-income families and people of color use [public] transportation at least twice as much as white families.” This program still requires approval from state lawmakers and, if approved, would take effect in 2023.