The Racine City Council Tuesday evening unanimously approved a measure that will waive the fare for veterans.
According to figures released by the Racine County Veterans Services Office, approximately 8,000 people in the RYDE Racine urban service area are veterans.
The initiative was introduced by Alderman Mollie Jones, who said she comes from a long line of veterans. Both her husband and brother served in the Vietnam War, and an uncle served in World War II. “I am very happy to support this initiative,” she said and later added, “This is near to me.”
Veterans and advocates for veterans spoke in favor of the measure during public comments.
Zach Zdroik, a Marine who is now executive director of the nonprofit Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin, said he could talk at length about the issues effecting veterans, from homelessness, to the struggle to survive, to suicide, to getting to the places that provide services for vets.
“Tonight we have an opportunity to focus on one of those, and that’s getting rides for veterans,” Zdroik said. “Every single veteran, no matter who they are, no matter what their military history is, at one point they raised their right hand and said, ‘I will give my life for the United States of America’ and for the freedom we have right now.”
Zdroik said everything the people have comes from the sacrifices made by veterans.
Even the littlest thing, he added, such as a free bus ride, helps a vet.
According to Shawn Rivers, the Racine County veterans service officer, himself a veteran, approximately 300 veterans are served each week by his office and the Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin, which provides a free food pantry for veterans and operates a village of tiny homes on Yout Street for veterans at risk of homelessness.
A free bus ride could help veterans get to the Racine County Veterans Services Office where Rivers works at 1717 Taylor Ave.
RYDE Racine joins Kenosha Transit in providing this benefit to veterans. Fox Cities Valley Transit and Green Bay Metro also waive fares for veterans with service-connected disabilities.
“It is an honor to provide this benefit to our veteran community. Breaking down transportation barriers will aid our veterans in finding safe and affordable housing, securing economic stability and accessing social services,” Transit and Mobility Director Trevor Jung said in a statement.
Credit: Hozel, Dee. Bus Rides Now Free for Military Veterans in Racine. The Journal Times. 2 November 2022.