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New, expectant mothers to get free RTA passes under program aimed at reducing infant mortality

Posted January 19, 2021 in Articles

Author: Courtney Astolfi,

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority trustees on Tuesday agreed to participate in a pilot program with the Cuyahoga County Board of Health that is aimed at reducing infant mortality rates by providing free rides to new and expectant mothers.

Under the “Baby on Board” program, RTA will use up to $100,000 in grant money from the Ohio Department of Transportation to provide free monthly transit passes to pregnant women and new mothers in the 44108, 44110 and 44112 ZIP codes, which include portions of Cleveland’s East Side, East Cleveland and Cleveland Heights.

The Board of Health selected those three ZIP codes because they have very high rates of infant mortality, and women often cite transportation issues as a primary reason for missing medical appointments, according to RTA records.

Cuyahoga County’s infant mortality rates are among the highest in the nation, and reflect large racial disparities. For every white baby who died before their first birthday in the city of Cleveland in 2018, nearly six Black babies died, according to First Year Cleveland.

The Board of Health will enroll and distribute passes to eligible women, who must be participants in prenatal programs administered by the board’s partner agencies, records state.

Half of the grant money must be spent on free passes by May 30, and the other half must be spent by May 2022, records state.

As part of future plans related to the grant, RTA intends to upgrade bus stops in the three ZIP codes to make them safer waiting areas, records state. Details for those plans, including possible costs and timelines, were not immediately available from an RTA spokeswoman.

Original Article: View Online

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