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RI HEALTH

R.I. to offer free transportation to vaccine appointments starting Monday

Residents who need a ride can contact RIPTA and provide their vaccine appointment information

Dr. Beata Nelken draws a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine in Central Falls, R.I., in March.
Dr. Beata Nelken draws a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine in Central Falls, R.I., in March.Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

PROVIDENCE — Starting Monday, Rhode Islanders will be able to receive free transportation to and from their vaccine appointments.

In partnership with the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority, Governor Dan J. McKee announced Thursday residents seeking free travel can contact RIPTA’s customer service team by emailing CustomerService@RIPTA.com or by calling 401-781-9400 and provide their vaccination appointment information.

“I hope that no-cost trips will enable everyone who wants to get to a vaccine clinic to get there easily,” said McKee Thursday.

If residents have an existing Wave smart fare card, $8 will be loaded on their card; and if they do not have a card, they will be mailed a Wave smart card preloaded with $8.

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Passengers looking for access to public transportation can visit RIPTA’s website and enter their travel information in the trip planner on the home page. Route information will be mapped out from their starting point to their destination, and what walking distances might be involved.

Scott Avedisian, RIPTA’s chief executive, said in a statement that RIPTA received approval from the Federal Transit Administration to use federal funding for this purpose. He said RIPTA is working out the reimbursement details with the FTA.

“This is one additional step to remove vaccine barrier,” said Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, the state health director, who said there was “no excuse” as to why people couldn’t receive a vaccine after Monday.

This announcement comes as all Rhode Island adults over the age of 16 years old will become eligible for the vaccine on April 19. Tom McCarthy, the state’s executive director of COVID response, said more than 258,000 Rhode Islanders will be able to sign up Monday.


Alexa Gagosz can be reached at alexa.gagosz@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @alexagagosz.