ROCHESTER — Veterans living in the GLOW region will be able to ride Regional Transit Service (RTS) buses for free for three years.

RTS announced Thursday that it is expanding the free fares for military veterans program to Genesee, Livingston, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Wayne and Wyoming Counties. The free fares apply to regular route service only. Dial-a-ride service is not included.

This announcement follows implementation of free fares for veterans in Monroe County in July. RTS is working with the Veterans Outreach Center (VOC) to implement the program. The VOC, in partnership with veterans’ programs in each county, is managing the process veterans will follow to apply for and receive a customized Veteran’s Pass. Veterans must use this pass to receive the free fare.

The VOC will be on-site in each county over the next few months to help veterans apply for and obtain their photo ID. They can make an appointment to meet with VOC representatives in their respective county according to the following schedule.

Genesee County: Oct. 28, Nov. 25, Dec. 9 and Dec. 23 at the Genesee County Veterans Service Agency, 3837 W. Main St., Batavia;

Livingston County: Today, Oct. 30, Nov. 13, Nov. 27, Dec. 11 at Livingston County Veteran Services, 7 Murray Hill Dr., Mt. Morris;

Orleans County: Oct. 26, Nov. 9, Nov. 23, Dec. 7, Dec. 21 at Orleans County Veterans Services, 13996 Route 31 West, Albion; and

Wyoming County Oct. 29, Nov. 12, and Dec. 10 at Wyoming County Veterans’ Services, 5362 Mungers Rd., Silver Springs.

Veterans should follow these steps to apply for their ID:

• Review the eligibility requirements at https://veteransoutreachcenter.org/rts;

• Complete the “I need services” form linked on the webpage;

• A VOC employee will reach out to the veteran to complete the process.

Flyers for the VOC on-site visits in each county can be found at https://bit.ly/3dz33e4.

Veterans can contact the VOC regarding their RTS free fare ID or any other veterans-related issue by calling them toll-free at 1-866-906-VETS (8387).

Genesee County Veterans Service Agency Director William Joyce said VOC representatives will be at the county from 1-4 p.m. on those days. He said his office will be closed Nov. 11, one of the days VOC planned to be there.

“They’re going to be in this building ... to meet with the veterans and register them for this free pass. It’s a valid pass for three years,” Joyce said. “They reached out to me before COVID because RTS was going to expand their services.”

Joyce said after a delay due to COVID, RTS contacted him more recently about the free pass program.

“We have a lot of veterans around here that don’t have their own transportation,” Joyce said. “I sent it out to the veterans’ organizations to further get the information out to the veterans that need it.”

Orleans County Veterans Service Director Nancy Traxler said the VOC will be at her office from 1-4 p.m. on the scheduled days.

“I do know our veterans have a hard time finding transportation to get around, so this is going to be a big benefit for them. I haven’t actually talked with a lot of the veterans about their use of RTS, but the veterans I have talked to said this is a great plan for this area and that there’s a need for transportation,” she said. “I talked to veterans from all over the county. Everybody that I’ve talked to from different areas has been all for the program.

“They would need a copy of their DD-214. If we don’t have it here, we’ll have to fill out the paperwork to obtain a copy from the National Archives,” Traxler said. “When they come in (for the free pass) it will be a picture ID that they’ll get. They’ll do the picture and get the ID printed.”

RTS CEO Bill Carpenter said, “Through our work with county leaders and veterans throughout the RTS service area, we learned that transportation is a barrier to veterans having access to important destinations and services in their communities,”

Veterans Outreach Center Executive Director and Army Veteran Laura Stradley said the VOC wishes to thank RTS for its support of local veterans.

“Through their partnership with the bus pass program, we are able to ensure our veterans have reliable, free of charge transportation,” she said. “We are excited to expand the bus pass program to our surrounding counties and look forward to teaming up with local Veterans Service agencies to offer this service to those who live outside of Monroe County.”

For all other information, visit www.myRTS.com.

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