Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Local Coordination News from PA, TX & OR

A study of transportation in the York, Pa. area recommends coordination as a strategy to improve transit service. Analyzing transit in a nine-county area that has five transit systems, the study, funded by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), found:
-- Projected population growth between 2000 and 2030 is significant in the southcentral Pennsylvania region.
-- The need for more express services, multimodal linkages and park and rides was identified.
-- A common way to pay for fares on different transit systems is essential.
-- Transit is viewed as a choice for the younger generation.
-- Separate funding for inter-county transit service coordination is needed in legislation with local political support.
-- Partnerships with local government and employers are very important for regional transit coordination.
To encourage transit use, county borders must become seamless, the study recommends. A potential market is young adults.
Amenities like wireless Internet on buses, such as Rabbit Transit express buses that run between York and Harrisburg and to Maryland, appeal to younger riders.

"It seems the younger generation is more open to mass transit and living a sustainable lifestyle," Heilman said.
Source: Study finds need for transit coordination in York region, from the YorkDispatch.com

[Bus outside Chicago's Union Station.]

Texas Partnerships Moving Forward

A disability navigator in Corpus Christi, Tex., a member of the new LinkedIn group for the Partnership for Mobility Management, sent information about his region's experience with the Accessible Transportation Coalitions Initiative, a project of Easter Seals Project ACTION. The ATCI team became the Stakeholder Advisory Committee for the Mobility Options Project, a
Coastal Bend Center for Independent Living demonstration project, funded by a JARC grant from Texas Department of Transportation that:
partners with Workforce Solutions of the Coastal Bend and the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitation Services to increase mobility options for people with disabilities seeking employment-related opportunities. The two-year Mobility Options Project advances the plan developed at the ATCI event primarily regarding increasing access for people with disabilities in rural area, and expanding hours and days of service. To further promote new initiatives in their community that promote the team’s priorities, the ACCESS TEAM advocated for the Corpus Christi Regional Transportation Authority’s successful application for funding through the Department of Transportation’s Veterans Transportation and Community Living Initiative. This initiative will support the development of a regional call center that will provide a single point of access for regional transportation.
The team hosted a mobility management summit in the fall and discussed creation of a "united mobility management system" by examining "the positive and negative aspects of three models of mobility management: human services/independent living-based, workforce development-based, and public transit system-based."

[Portland light rail train near convention center. Hardly any wait and just a few free minutes to downtown near the federal courthouse (free tour available), department stores and the cute animal fountains.]

Social Media Meets Depressing Transit Choices

In a story of partnering with the public to decide how to make up for revenue shortfalls and inevitable service reductions or fare increases, the Oregonian reports that Portland's TriMet transit agency is asking residents to offer their opinions about how to plug a budget hole of $17 million. The article is entitled Want to tell TriMet how to run a railroad (and buses)? Now's your chance, about a social media campaign survey that is more like a game.

The site is part poll and part make-painful-choices game. "Love Connection" it's not. Think "Wheel of Fortune" meets a version of the "Sims" video game that allows players to manage a transit agency. There's a red bar reading "$17 million." You control a green bar, which moves depending on whatever service cuts and fare changes you click on. The goal is to balance the green and red.
... ... ... ...
(Yes, TriMet riders and payroll tax payers, it may be the most depressing interactive survey you've ever taken.)

"We're hoping to get an idea of what the public sees as the best approach," said TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane. "We also want to help people understand the tough tradeoffs that the agency faces."

The "game" is available at trimet.org/mailforms/budgetchoices.

Can I Borrow Your Car?

One more Portland story that I think is relevant for rural and suburban areas as well, though probably needs a few kinks worked out, is carsharing that is similar to, but goes beyond asking to borrow a neighbor's car. The Oregonian reports that federal funding, changes to the state's automobile insurance law and a venture by a private company will allow cheap pay-by-the-hour car rentals. Basically, you might be able to borrow - for a fee - the old hatchback down the street that has junk all over the front passenger seat or maybe the neat Audi convertible you admire.

With $1.7 million in federal grant money, California start-up Getaround will debut its personal car-sharing service in February, assuming a test period at the Portland State University campus goes well. The pilot starts on Jan. 1.

My source for the Portland stories is my-ever-reliable source, the TransitWire.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Public Participation - Legal Requirement, Resources, TA Providers

What do you as technical assistance providers say when you are asked for advice about public participation aspects of planning, transit development and creating transportation services? What are resources that are written for laypeople? What staff from within our network can assist you and your constituency? This blog post describes some common issues to keep in mind, legal requirements, just a few recommended resources and a list of staff within the TA Provider Network who can help when public participation issues arise.

Legal Requirement

Public involvement is a legal requirement of SAFETEA-LU and is increasingly used at all levels of government to inform official decisions and projects. A successful public consultation process is proactive and provides complete information, timely public notices in relevant media, and opportunities for early and continuous participation. Early issue identification and cooperative solution-building can reduce the potential for conflict later in the process.

Planning for public participation should account for costs, reasonable timelines, and serious consideration of community voices. To stay in communication with community members, organizations and leaders throughout a planning or other process, establish and maintain a list of all parties interested in transportation in the region or in the particular project at issue.

[Mural near Amtrak station in Galesburg, Ill.]


The digital divide looms large for community outreach because methods of outreach, particularly use of social media, email and the Internet, will depend on the lifestyles of the community at large and populations within the community. To rely only on social media and the Internet, however, is to ignore rural populations in areas without good Internet access and people who do not use the Internet and social media.

Effective Participation

Guidance for effective participation applies both to those seeking public input and people who wish to contribute their input. It takes a champion, a committed individual, to identify the players and organize and facilitate meetings in a way that others can see the merit of participation.

Community members should coordinate with other individuals, groups and local and regional political leaders. If possible, it is best to reach a unified position because it is more likely result in success than a lone voice. Newspaper editorials and letters, blogs and comments, Facebook, Twitter, and email campaigns can be useful for publicizing a position and gathering support.

Local political representation should be included from the start so that politicians may take ownership (credit) of the idea and guide it to success. It is best to keep politicians informed all the way through the process, as they can be instrumental in moving the projects along.

[Bus serving what will be Denver's renovated Union Station transit hub; right now the bus appears in the middle of the construction site of the station area.]

Channel Your Inner Boy Scout: Be Prepared

Community members should prepare for a public workshop by obtaining the necessary materials and studying each suggested alternative for any given project. As much factual information as possible should be employed to support a position on a project. Data will be more persuasive and credible than an unsupported opinion. Similarly, enumerating specific concerns and providing explicit suggestions for improving a project are likely to be better received than a general statement of opposition.

Effective participation requires knowledge of the planning process and methods of participating that are proven. Community members may attend the meetings of the MPO or other regional body, its board of directors, technical advisory committee (professional staff from the county and larger municipalities), and its citizen advisory council, all of which are open to the public.

Stakeholder Committees: Convening a stakeholder committee is a strategy that is widely used for supplying transit agencies and governmental entities with feedback about proposed projects and changes to service. Some are used from the planning through the implementation stages of specific projects; some are permanent fixtures.


Coordination: It’s the Law
- explains SAFETEA-LU’s public participation legal requirements.

Public Involvement in Transportation Decisionmaking - a course offered by the National Transit Institute (NTI) that discusses public participation and federal requirements.

How to Engage Low-Literacy and Limited-English-Proficiency Populations - excellent resource for including people who either are unable to read well or are not fluent English speakers. Low literacy is generally a marker for low income populations. The report offers a multitude of methods for reaching people who do not read well, including places to go, people to use, and ways to conduct a meeting.

The Do's and Don'ts of Working with Local Communities: Tips for Successful Community-Based Public Meetings - provides a checklist for effectively leading a public meeting.

A Guide to Transportation Planning for Citizens
- explains in simple language the planning processes contemplated in federal mandates and how to become involved.

TCRP SYNTHESIS 85: Effective Use of Citizen Advisory Committees for Transit Planning and Operations
- a must-read about public involvement via stakeholder committees. Provides a veritable cookbook for residents, political leaders, government personnel, and non-profit staff of all stripes. Descriptions of a range of purposes for the committees, procedures, membership, sizes, and types of projects and project phases for which the committees were utilized.

Including People with Disabilities In Coordinated Transportation Plans
- gives a simple explanation of coordinated planning, benefits of coordination, and improving coordinated planning through the involvement of people with disabilities. This Easter Seals Project ACTION brief includes resources for facilitating the process of coordination.


For information about reaching people in rural areas or places where many people are not connected to the Internet, contact Kelly Shawn (shawn@ctaa.org, 202-299-6596).

Remember that including people with disabilities means outreach that is accessible to those populations. Contact Ken Thompson (kthompson@easterseals.com, 800-659-6428) for more information about including people with disabilities.

Convening public meetings and stakeholder groups to discuss issues that will require supporting technology has been a key component of the Mobility Services for All Americans (MSAA) project. For more information, contact Yehuda Gross (yehuda.gross@dot.gov, 202-366-1988).

Contact Sheryl Gross-Glaser (grossglaser@ctaa.org, 202-386-1669) at the National Resource Center for Human Service Transportation Coordination for more information.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

You All Work Very Hard

I don't even know where to begin with news,events, and resources because the TA Provider Network is such a busy crew that I am starting to feel like keeping up is about as possible as being on the candy assembly line with Lucy and Ethel. They keep on going because you of the importance of their work and the need to provide assistance to states, communities, regions, human services agencies, and transit and transportation providers, among others.

I therefore sincerely apologize for the long blog post. These are are all indicative and good examples of the work technical assistance staff produce and how they can assist clients with the resources of TA peers.

[Part of the already-realized multi-modal Denver Union Station project. Exciting at day's end to see all of the commuters and ongoing construction. Thank you to MTAP for the tour.]

New Dialogue and Mobility Management

National Center on Senior Transportation
Online dialogue - Nov. 28 to Dec. 16, 2011 - Intended for individuals and organizations from the aging network and transportation industry. "The dialogue will give the aging network, older adults, advocates, volunteers, policy makers, public and private transportation providers, federal, state, and local transportation agencies, human services agencies, and municipal planning organizations the chance to submit, comment on, and rate ideas related to planning for senior-friendly transportation services." NCST is a technical assistance center administered by Easter Seals Inc., in partnership with the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging.

NCST also has grant money available for mobility management. It is soliciting proposals for senior transportation projects that demonstrate innovative and effective solutions to enhance the mobility of older adults. Funding may be used to create comprehensive mobility management systems, increase mobility in urban and rural areas, and improve public transit access for older persons. The grants will be $50,000 or less. The NCST anticipates making a total of eight awards. These are the categories:
1. Peer-Mobility Management and Employment
2. Mobility Management in Rural/Frontier Areas
3. Mobility Management Integration within Current Practices
4. Mobility Management Applied to the Family of Senior Transportation Options

All proposals must be submitted by December 23, 2011.

[Chicago's Union Station.]

RTAP Events and New Resource

National Rural Transit Assistance Program

Webinar - Resource Library Overview and Tools - Dec. 5, 2011. The webinar will provide overview of the latest National RTAP web app, the Resource Library. Through National RTAP in the Cloud, this web app can be installed on any transit agency's website and may be used to upload, share and manage resources. You will also learn how you can install the Resource Library web app on your website and use it to upload, share and manage resources. Features of the web app will help you manage, track and report on resources using an easy-to-use web interface.

Conference - Creating Partnerships for Rural Transit Solutions - March 18-21, 2012, Scottsdale, Ariz. The conference will provide technical assistance with RTAP products on four tracks: Tribal, Transit Management, Transit Operations, and RTAP/5311 Program Management.

RTAP releases a new brief, Livable Communities: Tips for Designing Transit Services and Infrastructure that Promote Livability, which explains in simple terms what livability is and what the relationship to and benefits for rural transit are. The brief links to technical assistance resources and federal government information.

What Are the Procurement Rules?

Federal Transit Administration [www.fta.dot.gov]
The FTA has a new page on its site, Third Party Procurement FAQs, which answers questions about a few dozen topics about what procurement rules apply and when. Plus, the sleek look of the FTA site is worth a visit if you have not gone there in a while.
[Galesburg, Ill. train station platform.]

State Coordinating Council Profiles

National Conference of State Legislatures
NCSL has added to its State Human Service Transportation Coordinating Councils: State Profiles. These are in-depth examinations, approximately five to 10 pages, of how the state coordinating councils were created, their goals and evolution, how their objectives are being addressed across the state, and funding details. So far, NCSL's library includes five states.

NCSL also releases a livability brief. Though titled Recent State Livability Initiatives in Minnesota: An Analysis, the brief very much explains the integrated components that comprise livability and the type of projects that fall under its umbrella.


Easter Seals Project ACTION
ESPA releases a brief about technology to assist people who are visually impaired. Improving Transit Facility Accessibility by Employing Wayfinding Technology discusses tactile maps, detectable warnings, talking signs, smartphone apps and other assistive technology that enables a visually impaired person to navigate streets and transit on his or her own.

Information & Referral Training

National Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities

Online training - Basic Training for Aging I&R/A Professionals - This training will give an overview of the broad array of health, social, and long-term services and supports for seniors and individuals with disabilities; tools and strategies to provide culturally appropriate services; and the fundamental phases of the I&R/A process with a focus on learning how to support the decision making of seniors, individuals with disabilities, and their caregivers.

[Photo taken in California from the Coast Starlight train. I was mesmerized by the landscape.]

Local Story

The transit authority in Wichita, KS, is serving a reduced ridership following a 50-cent fare increase. The authority, in response, is soliciting feedback via an
interactive website to learn more about the public’s needs. The virtual town hall seeks community input about public services. The site provides a convenient way for residents to share ideas, offer opinions and make recommendations on a broad variety of Transit subjects including routes, services and possible expansion plans.

The fare increase was due to a budget shortfall.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans and Other Resources on the NRC Website

Happy Veterans Day and 11-11-11!

Today, the Veterans Transportation and Community Living Initiative officially begins and the National Resource Center (NRC) releases a new report, Transportation for America's Veterans and Their Families. The report showcases the NRC's - particularly, its ambassadors' - successes in assisting veterans by improving transportation through effective partnerships and coordination. Some of these stories involve transporting veterans to VA medical centers and others involve travel to the same places we all need to go to. The report demonstrates what coordination and committed partnerships can achieve to improve transit and transportation services.

For more resources relating to veterans and serving their transportation needs, please visit the NRC Veterans Transportation Bookshelf. Like all of the NRC bookshelves, there is comprehensive information about the topic.

[Snoopy and Woodstock at the Minneapolis airport.]

Friday, October 14, 2011

Upcoming Events & Training; Local Perspectives on Livability

Federal Transit Administration
FTA has upcoming listening sessions and webinars about civil rights and environmental justice. The listening sessions will discuss the proposed circulars about those topics.

National Transit Institute
Strollers, Carts, and Other Large Items on Buses and Trains (TCRP Synthesis 88) - webinar - Nov. 17, 2011. This webinar will highlight practices implemented by transit agencies to manage the capacity on vehicles carrying customers with large items, including wheelchairs; Segways; scooters and other mobility aids; strollers; bicycles; luggage, and miscellaneous items, such as skis and dog carriers. A review of the various types of transit vehicles and modifications agencies have made to their vehicles to accommodate large items will be discussed.
Managing Community Mobility - various dates to March 2012.
Comprehensive ADA Paratransit Eligibility - various dates to March 2012.

Community Transportation Association of America
CTAA Train-the-trainer for driver training, safety and security, and transportation solutions coordinator work. Visit CTAA's training page for more information.

Easter Seals Project ACTION
Accessible Transportation Coalitions Initiative - currently accepting applications. ESPA will select 10 communities through a competitive application process to participate. ATCI is a systems change model designed to improve accessible transportation options for people with disabilities. Selected communities will receive on-site facilitation and targeted technical assistance during a two-day event to learn the ATCI model and develop an accessible transportation plan. ESPA will continue to provide targeted technical assistance over the subsequent year while communities implement this plan.
[Portland light rail station with biker waiting for the train.]

Misconceptions about Livability

A new report from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) looks at perceived barriers to livability projects in rural, tribal and other types of areas. The Regional Livability Workshops report summarizes five workshops held across the country and suggests strategies
"to raise awareness of transportation linkages to livability, and to provide resources to practitioners and the public to more effectively consider livability issues within the Federal transportation planning process."
While most communities do have a set of goals or vision statements, workshop participants noted that the most effective visions are those that emerge from a collaborative visioning, planning or scenario development process. Participants noted quite often, these efforts include a strong outreach process that brings together both multidisciplinary interests as well as public and private constituencies. These processes can spur lasting relationships and coalitions that ultimately help create local keepers of the vision. It was also noted when a strong vision is present, project prioritization and project delivery methods can demonstrate clear policy choices between various alternatives. This direct link helps foster identification and implementation of transportation investments in support of community goals.

Community goals reflect the unique character, values, and priorities of a given place. Participants discussed the need to better align regional, State or Federal goals in transportation and mobility with local community goals. One strategy includes documenting existing goals at each level (Federal, State, regional and local) or across differing agencies and identifying where commonalities or conflicts exist. This can help to understand the tradeoffs or policy issues that need to be considered to more effectively align transportation priorities with local livability goals.

Livability TA

Environmental Protection Agency
EPA’s fall 2011 Request for Letters of Interest (PDF: http://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/pdf/buildingblocks_2011_rfli.pdf) for direct assistance from the agency is now open. EPA will be accepting letters of interest for the next round of Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities from September 28 to October 28, 2011. Subsequent application periods will depend on budget constraints and will be announced on the Smart Growth page.

Local Stories

Twitter brings interesting stories to me and succinctly exposes my brain to useful and inexpensive tools for transit and other mobility options. This article from the Tennessean, More Cyclists, Walkers Counted in Middle TN, demonstrates that a cheap, volunteer tool can provide a snapshot of how people travel at what locations. Since a pedestrian-friendly street network is essential to transit, a one-day audit in a Tennessee community supplied useful information about where people are willing to walk and bike. Although biking is not an option for many handicapped individuals and is not a preference for many others, the bicycling rate is an indicator of how safe the street network feels to non-auto users.

Th Broome County, New York area (Binghamton area) is creating a one-call transportation center. This week, CTAA hosted a Transportation Solutions training, which was covered in the local news. The Broome-Tioga Mobility Management Project (BTMMP) call center will be housed at the local United Way. The BTMMP partnership was created to help meet the need for increased transportation services in both Broome and Tioga Counties. BTMMP will help those in need to arrange and coordinate transportation using all available resources. The BTMMP partners have been planning the project since December 2010.
BTMMP is a multi-agency partnership funded in part by the Community Foundation for South Central New York; the AmeriCorps National Service Program; Tioga Transport, Inc.; and with in-kind contributions from BTMMP partner organizations.

Food for thought: One thing I noticed in reading a local article about transportation options desired in a rural community was that the meeting to air the community's wish list was taking place on a weekday morning during traditional work hours. Well-organized advocates and staff of government organizations were expected. No mention was made of remote access or feedback or why a time that would exclude most working people would be chosen.
[Portland light rail on a Saturday morning.]

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

State DOT Survey Responses - Effectiveness of Federally Mandated Coordination Planning

National Cooperative Highway Research Program Research Results Digest 354, A Review of Human Services Transportation Plans and Grant Programs is worth a careful read. While I am summarizing parts of the report here that apply nationally, there are in-depth portions about particular states that are illuminating. This report is part of the series of ongoing research that is performed for AASHTO's Standing Committee on Public Transportation. The NRC Director, Chris Zeilinger, serves as a liaison to the panels that oversee all the work that is conducted under NCHRP Project 20-65.

State DOTs were surveyed to state the effectiveness of the coordinated planning effort (1) in meeting "FTA goals of enhancing transportation access, minimizing duplication of services, and facilitating the most appropriate and cost- effective transportation possible with available resources; and (2) "ascertain[ing] the cost of developing and maintaining these Coordination Plans (in terms of time and money) to ensure that resources are being used wisely and effectively, resulting in the better, more cost-effective and coordinated programs that the plans are expected to foster."

Opinions from 21 states

Twenty-one states responded to the survey. Afterward detailed telephone discussions in six geographically and demographically representative states were conducted with staff from state DOTs, planning organizations, transit agencies, human service transportation providers and non-governmental organizations.

Benefits reported from the requirement to draft coordination plans with stakeholder input were "enhancing transportation access for target populations, increasing commitment/participation in the plan development at both the state and local levels, improving coordination, and creating a general understanding of eligible JARC and NF grants." Disadvantages of the current funding streams and their administrative requirements included burdens on existing staff, while not having the resources to hire additional staff. Another problem reported was the uncertainty of future funding, which inhibited taking advantage of available funding for fear that services could not be sustained.

Specific improvements suggested

Prominent among the suggestions for improving transportation funding to meet coordination goals was "the consolidation of the Section 5316 JARC and Section 5317 NF grant programs with other federal grant programs such as Section 5310, 5311, and 5307."
With consolidation, the respondents indicated that the individual grant program goals could still be reflected in program and planning requirements, including dedicating percentages of funding to each program goal. Section 5310, Transportation for Elderly Individuals and Individuals with Disabilities, was the most frequently mentioned program for consolidating the JARC and NF grants, and several respondents indicated that these grant programs could also be consolidated with Section 5311, the Rural and Small Urban Areas grant program. By consolidating the JARC and NF grants with Section 5310 and/or 5311, the respondents felt that the states could manage the program more efficiently, while still developing a Coordination Plan (as required for Section 5310) and serving similar target populations.
The report authors pointed to concern expressed in an AARP report that the needs of target populations would be neglected were funding streams to be consolidated. That report is Policy Options to Improve Specialized Transportation.

Especially interesting is the discussion of the benefits reported about coordinated planning and its limits given the realities of current funding, lack of local control, and the difficulty in meeting the local match requirement. "[M]any of the states noted either that they believe human services transportation did not necessarily improve because of the plan, or it was difficult to tell if it had." There was broad spectrum of sources for local matching funds. Some states supplied the funds, while others did not or did so only in rural areas.

Money and performance metrics

Those involved in the telephone discussions expressed a desire for sustained funding and concrete guidance about performance measures beyond traditional transit rubrics.

[M]any respondents believe the use of standard performance measures fails to sufficiently measure the human services aspect of the projects and often favors urban areas over rural because often rural areas have higher transportation costs due to longer distances, dispersed customers and destinations, and little other infrastructure to support human services customers, which may make rural transportation appear ineffective or inefficient.

One suggestion made would be to tie grants to coordination and performance.
[R]espondents believe that by using performance measures and data, and linking federal funds to the results of this process, coordinated planning could make better use of quantitative information and link plans to results more closely. They believe that stakeholders making use of a performance-driven coordinated planning process would get even more out of the process of developing and working to implement the Coordination Plan.

Has the coordinated planning requirement delivered results?

The qualitative answer - in terms of improved and more efficient service to riders and potential riders - is generally no, or perhaps, not yet. Respondents indicated that the plans have achieved average to little success in meeting FTA's goals of minimizing the duplication of transportation services (81 percent) and facilitating the most cost-effective transportation possible with available resources (76 percent). However, states reported average to moderate success in "enhancing" transportation options for target populations.

Respondents felt the funding level and restrictive federal requirements for the JARC and NF grant programs often make it difficult to attract participants to the process. To increase participation of Section 5310 participants, one state offered an incentive for the participating agencies’ applications for vehicle grants.

Commitment and funding

It could be that in many places, the coordination process is ongoing and leading to improved efficiency and service. The respondents indicated that "the level of commitment/participation in the development of the Coordination Plans has been relatively strong at both the state and local levels. Over 70 percent of the survey respondents indicated that the level of commitment/participation at the state and local levels was average or better." Some states reported that the coordination process did add parties who had not been at the table before.

A pervasive issue the report discussed was funding, its sustainability and adequacy.
Many respondents indicated that the Coordination Plans have a “shelf life” of 4 years for non-attainment areas and 5 years for attainment areas, and they do not anticipate that the costs will be in excess of $250,000 (at least for the state). Additionally, while some states paid for the cost of initial Coordination Plan development, no state responded that the state would pay for the maintenance of the plans.

Later on in the report, responses about funding adequacy and obstacles showed widespread belief that "there is not enough money in these programs (particularly JARC) because the need is significantly larger than the funds. As a result, they report that the funds frequently are used for existing/on-going services (preservation) rather than new projects." There was also a perceived lack of clarity about the "beyond ADA" requirement for New Freedom grants.

Many of the plans were developed by consultants or existing staff, and a very few by mobility managers. There was no discussion about the effectiveness of the process, the plans or the resulting service in terms of what party prepared the plans.

Projects chosen

The JARC and New Freedom projects chosen were, from most to least, Mobility Management, Operating Funds, Capital Purchases, ADA Service, Flex Route Bus Service Travel Training, Expanded Service, Dial-a-Ride Demand Response, Feeder Service and Volunteer Transportation, with the last five each garnering one state response.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Emergency Planning - Collection of Resources & Events

Maybe it was the week of the earthquake and the hurricane that jolted the thought of emergency preparedness to come to the attention center of my brain. We have had a spring and summer with quite a bit of emergency planning, actual disasters and the recoveries that follow. In some cases, the weather events were less than expected and in others, much worse. Here are some resources and events for transportation-related emergency planning issues.


Preparedness Considerations for Aging Americans - recorded webinar - This webinar provides information about specific preparedness steps for Aging Americans. Speakers will include representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and leaders at the forefront of Aging American Preparedness. Advanced registration for this webinar is not required.

This and other emergency planning webinars are archived at http://www.citizencorps.gov/news/webcasts.shtm.

National Association of County and City Health Officials
NACCHO has a Learning Community on Emergency Planning and Preparedness for People with Disabilities. NACCHO’s Health and Disability Project is supported by the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


How to be FEMA Ready When Disaster Hits
(Rebroadcast) - audio/web broadcast - Oct. 11, 2011 - Pointing out that within the last five years, every state has had at least one disaster declaration, APWA presents this program to help identify what should be ready before disaster strikes and what can be expected when dealing with FEMA after the disaster. Participants will learn how to justify the value of a good asset management system that gives quantifiable information to help identify the cost of bringing assets back into use and how to estimate the length of time and resources involved in the recovery process.

National Evacuation Conference
- Feb. 7-9, 2012, New Orleans - Conference brings together the fields of transportation and emergency management to discuss evacuation planning to accommodate the needs of all people before, during and after a major disaster. The objective is to foster an interdisciplinary exchange of ideas surrounding a broad range of evacuation issues, particularly mass evacuations.

Public Works Peer Activity

American Public Works Association
APWA is developing an emergency management peer network. It requests that members share their expertise about the different facets of emergency preparedness, response, mitigation, planning, and recovery. The "database will operate as an in-house listserv for APWA members who need advice or information on emergency management matters."
Coast Starlight train - Calif.
[View from a California train ride.]

Blasts from the Past

Here are some emergency preparedness resources featured before.

Community Transportation Association of America

National Resource Center
The NRC keeps an Emergency Preparedness and Response bookshelf with reports about transportation issues in disaster planning.

CTAA has an Emergency Evacuation page on its site with checklists, toolboxes and other resources that focus on populations, locations, and different types of professionals.

National RTAP - the Rural Transit Assistance Program
RTAP has a free training module, Emergency Procedures for Rural Transit Drivers. The training includes a Learner’s Guide, a Self-paced eLearning Course Disc, an Instructor’s Guide, and a disc with videos and a trainer’s PowerPoint presentation. It can be used in a classroom setting or by a single student, and is appropriate for both new and experienced transit drivers. The training offers information on preparedness for hazards and threats that may be encountered as a transit operator. This training module also offers targeted training on the Seven Steps of Crisis Management.

For more information, please contact Pam Russell DiGiovanni at 888-589-6821 or pdigiovanni@nationalrtap.org.

For those even more involved in emergency planning is FEMA's lessons learned website. For those updates, there is a lessons learned newsletter available at the site.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Webinars and Events

Performing For Individual, Organizational and Collective Impact - webinar - Sept. 14, 2011 at 2 p.m. Eastern time. The Partnership for Mobility Management and CTAA jointly present this webinar to explore the fundamentals of performance measurement. The webinar will cover results-based accountability to support quality of life, and mobility management measures that gauge success of programs and outcomes for customers. 

Creative Solutions to Reduced Funding for Public and Human Services Transportation - webinar - Sept. 20, 2011 at 2 p.m. Eastern time. Webinar speakers are representatives of communities that have taken different approaches to solving or alleviating the problem of cutbacks as well as a panel representing national organizations.  

Digital Transportation Exchange (DTE) - Stakeholder meeting in-person or via webcast or phone - Sept. 16, 2011 at 9 a.m. Eastern time. DTE is being created by DOT as an online platform for transportation solutions. The stakeholder meeting is taking place during the platform's formation to give DOT feedback from stakeholder groups and subject matter experts. Respond by tomorrow, September 2, by email to open@dot.gov and indicate how you intend to participate. Thank you to Easter Seals Project ACTION for this news. 

[Angel's Flight railway in downtown Los Angeles.]

Office of Civil Rights Workshop - Sept. 22-23, 2011, Berkeley, CA. FTA Staff will be available to review DBE Goals and Title VI & Limited English Proficiency (LEP) Programs. There will also be trainings covering Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program requirements, Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) regulations, Title VI Requirements for FTA recipients, and Limited English Proficiency (LEP) rules. (This workshop will be hosted in conjunction with the California Association of Coordinated Transportation (CalACT) Autumn Conference. It is not required to attend the CalACT Autumn Conference in order to attend the FTA Office of Civil Rights workshop.)  

NTI has upcoming webinars and classes around the country on many topics, including the National Transit Database, reporting to the rural transit database, mobility management, funding for transit maintenance, and small systems waivers

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

DOT Developments: Veterans and Bike/Ped Improvements

Department of Transportation
DOT Secretary Ray LaHood promoted the Veterans Transportation and Community Living initiative in his blog, the Fastlane. Meant to improve transportation access to community life, employment, services, and care, the funding will be primarily for development and improvement of one-call/one click services. The deadline for applications is Sept. 16, 2011.

Information about the initiative is also available from staff at the National Resource Center for Human Service Transportation Coordination.

Bike/Ped Policy Statement

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) issued a policy statement on the eligibility of pedestrian and bicycle improvements for funding under federal transit law - up to a radius of one-half mile for pedestrian improvements and "all bicycle improvements located within three miles of a public transportation stop or station." The FTA declares a "de facto physical and functional relationship to public transportation." Funding for bicycle or pedestrian improvements at greater distances to public transportation may also be eligible for FTA funding if it is demonstrated that "the improvement is within the distance that people will travel by foot or by bicycle to use a particular stop or station." And that's just the FTA's introduction to the statement.

[Snoopy and Woodstock at Minneapolis airport.]

The funding streams that may be used for these improvements include:
Section 5307 Urbanized Area Formula Program;
Section 5309 New Starts and Small Starts Major Capital Investment Programs;
Section 5309 Fixed Guideway Modernization Program;
Section 5309 Bus and Bus Facilities Discretionary Program;
Section 5310 Elderly Individuals and Individuals with Disabilities Formula Program;
Section 5311 Non-Urbanized Area Formula Program;
Section 5311 Public Transportation on Indian Reservations;
Section 5316 Job Access and Reverse Commute Formula Program (JARC);
Section 5317 New Freedom Program; and,
Section 5320 Paul S. Sarbanes Alternative Transportation in Parks and Public Lands.

Other statutory requirements to obtain bike/ped funding specify that the funds be used to "enhance economic development or incorporate private investment; to enhance the effectiveness of public transportation project and relate physically or functionally to that project, or to establish new or enhanced coordination between public transportation and other transportation; and to provide a fair share of revenue for public transportation."

Pedestrian projects may receive up to 90 percent federal share and bicycle ones 95 percent. In terms of bike-sharing programs, bike storage facilities can be funded, but not bicycles.

Free Copyediting

Reading through the document also produced an entertaining moment. The FTA thanked the two commenters who "noted that the word 'complimentary' should be spelled 'complementary.'" And the copyediting was complimentary.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Rural and Other Sustainability News - Grants & Webinars

There is assistance for rural communities interested in submitting applications for Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grants and Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants.

Planning Grants

PolicyLink announces its updated guide for local governments, metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), nonprofits, foundations, and educational institutions. The 2011 Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant Guide: How to Incorporate Equity into your Grant Application provides information on how regions can incorporate social equity, which the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has made a significant priority of Sustainable Communities. Please be aware that the guide is not specifically designed for rural communities.

The Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program is a great opportunity for rural communities to leverage federal funds for local transportation projects. To help communities apply these very competitive grants, the American Public Transportation Association, the National Association of Development Organizations, the National League of Cities, PolicyLink, Reconnecting America, Rural Assembly, Smart Growth America, and Transportation for America have joined together to encourage rural communities to submit superior applications for this funding.

The TIGER grants are called a "great opportunity for rural communities to leverage federal funds for local transportation projects." A webinar, TIGER Grants and Rural America, on Wednesday, August 3, 2011 at 2:00 PM EDT, will provide basic tips for outreach and education about the TIGER program, including an overview of TIGER, discussion of innovative rural transportation projects, and examples from two successful rural projects from earlier TIGER grant cycles.

[Abe Lincoln and helper at Metro Center station handing out ticket discounts for Nationals baseball games.]

Funding Available

Below is an announcement from the Interagency Partnership for Sustainable Communities. All announcements are posted online at http://www.sustainablecommunities.gov. Funding is from the partner agencies, the Departments of Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

DOT Federal Transit Administration Livability Grants
Up to $175 million in funding will be provided to increase and improve transportation options for communities. The Bus and Bus Facilities Program will fund up to $150 million to purchase or replace buses and to build bus-related facilities. Remaining funding will be provided through the Alternatives Analysis Program to help communities evaluate and select the best transit options to meet their transportation needs. Timeframe: application period now open, deadline is July 29.

DOT’s TIGER program will give funding to capital construction and planning projects in surface transportation around the country. Grants will be awarded on a competitive basis for projects that will have a significant impact on infrastructure investment. Estimated timeframe: NOFA available fall, Interim Notice of Funding Availability available online now. Funding levels: $526 million for transportation projects with $140 million set aside for projects in rural areas.

HUD Communities Regional Planning Grants
HUD’s Regional Planning grants, in coordination with EPA and DOT, will provide funding of up to $68 million to improve regional planning efforts that integrate housing and transportation decisions, and increase state, regional, and local capacity to incorporate livability, sustainability, and social equity values into land use plans and zoning. Timeframe: Advanced NOFA available now, final NOFA available in July.

HUD Community Challenge Planning Grants
Up to $28 million will be available to assist communities in amending or replacing local master plans and coding system, with the goal of promoting sustainability at the local or neighborhood level. These grants also support the development of affordable housing through the development and adoption of inclusionary zoning ordinances and other activities such as acquisition of land for affordable housing projects. Timeframe: NOFA available in July.

EPA Brownfields Multipurpose Grants
For FY2012, the Brownfields Office will pilot a "multipurpose" grant opportunity. The grant would give a recipient flexibility in conducting assessment and cleanup activities at a specific site owned by the applicant, and would eliminate the delay that may occur when moving from assessment to cleanup when funding hasn’t been secured. Timeframe: RFP available mid-summer.

EPA Brownfields Area-Wide Planning Grants
EPA, in collaboration with HUD and DOT, will provide planning assistance to communities, many in underserved and economically disadvantaged areas, to develop area-wide plans for the reuse of brownfields properties. Timeframe: RFP available mid-summer.

EPA Brownfields Environmental Workforce Job Training Grants
EPA will provide grants to non-profit organizations to recruit, train and employ predominately low-income and minority, unemployed and under-employed residents from solid and hazardous waste-impacted communities. Timeframe: RFP available mid-summer.

EPA Brownfield Assessment Revolving Loan Fund and Cleanup (ARC) Grants
Through the ARC, brownfields assessment, RLF and brownfields cleanup grants, EPA will address sites contaminated by petroleum and hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants (including hazardous substances co-mingled with petroleum). Timeframe: RFP available late summer.

EPA Smart Growth Implementation Assistance (SGIA)
EPA, in collaboration with HUD and DOT, will provide technical assistance to communities to focus on cross-departmental coordination of policies, cities undergoing economic transition, infrastructure financing, historic preservation and downtown revitalization, and climate change adaptation. Estimated timeframe: RFP available early fall.

EPA Building Blocks II

The Sustainable Communities Building Blocks Program seeks to provide quick, targeted technical assistance to communities using a variety of tools that have demonstrated results and widespread application. This technical assistance will help selected local and/or tribal governments to implement development approaches that protect the
environment, improve public health, create jobs, expand economic opportunity, and improve overall quality of life. Estimated timeframe: RFP available late fall.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Transportation Technical Assistance Resources: Seniors

Community Transportation Association of America
CTAA has a senior mobility page with resources about issues that are important to, elders.
* Volunteer driver programs as an in-kind match;
* Maintaining quality transportation in economically difficult times;
* The cost of living at home and using transit versus relocating to an assisted living facility; and
* How long-term care and independent living residents can benefit from community transportation services.

The last resource has information about technical assistance that CTAA and the National Center on Senior Transportation provide. NCST is a technical assistance center administered by Easter Seals Inc., in partnership with the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging.

National Center on Senior Transportation
Many of the resources that NCST is currently featuring have been covered recently here and in the Express Stop. These include reports and events concerning taxis, Indian country, and, noted above, the resource about transportation aspects of the decision about whether to relocate in old age.

NCST has also posted links to:
* Maturing of America Survey by N4A;
* Aging in Place report by Transportation for America; and;
* Toolkit for One-Call/One-Click Transportation Services and related resources produced by CTAA.

Aug. 3 NCST webinar: Ride or Relocate? Transportation and Housing Options for Senior Adults - Speakers will address results from a study in North Dakota that quantified the cost of living at home and riding transit versus relocating to an assisted living facility and will provide strategies for reaching out to older adults living at home.

Community Transportation Association of America
CTAA's Joblinks program has an older worker page with issue briefs that describe the needs of older workers and suggested solutions.

[My aunt walked up the subway steps by this mosaic in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, during her years commuting, which continued until she was 87.]

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Local Opportunities for Transit and Alternative Transportation

The American Public Health Association has a Transportation and Health Toolkit, which will help those interested and involved with transportation alternatives to explain and advocate for the public health benefits of transit and other community transportation, as well as zero-emission modes. The toolkit offers fact sheets linking public health to transportation choices in a community, outreach materials to the press, advice for dealing with local leaders, and archived webinar and factual material about public health consequences of the local transportation network.

Six Chosen Cities

Investing in Community Change reports that the Administration has selected six pilot cities for a new initiative. The Administration explains that it is encouraging local partnerships and empowerment.

Strong Cities, Strong Communities is a new interagency pilot initiative that aims to strengthen neighborhoods, towns, cities and regions around the country by strengthening the capacity of local governments to develop and execute their economic vision and strategies. Strong Cities, Strong Communities bolsters local governments by providing necessary technical assistance and access to federal agency expertise, and creating new public and private sector partnerships.

The six city pilot locations are:

Chester, PA - the Community Solutions Team will help Mayor Butler diversify the local economy, support small business development and revitalize the downtown.
Cleveland, OH - Strong Cities, Strong Communities will support Mayor Jackson in his efforts to coordinate workforce and economic development and to maximize the economic potential of the Cleveland Port.
Detroit, MI - the Community Solutions Team will partner with Mayor Bing and Governor Snyder to increase coordination and alignment on workforce and economic development issues, and to leverage U.S. DOT's investments in High Speed Rail and the Woodward Avenue light rail project to spur economic revitalization in the downtown corridor.
Fresno, CA - Mayor Swearengin and the Community Solutions Team will work to capitalize on the coming high-speed rail station to improve the downtown area, and will also build on a successful neighborhood development program.
Memphis, TN - Strong Cities, Strong Communities will partner with Mayor Wharton and his team to pursue his vision to strengthen the education system and attract new industries.
New Orleans, LA - Mayor Landrieu and the Communities Solutions Team will work to integrate existing federal resources to improve the delivery of health services, manage public safety and rebuild public infrastructure.

Potential for Transit and Mobility

The highlighted text shows just a few places where there is potential for transit and other mobility components to larger development and revitalization projects.

And here is more from Ray LaHood, the Secretary of Transportation, about how the pilot programs will be conducted.

Earlier this week, Deputy Secretary [of Transportation] John Porcari traveled to Memphis to announce that as part of this new initiative, the Obama Administration will send five full-time federal staff people to Memphis. Their job will be to listen to local leaders, learn what they need from the federal government, and help them secure that assistance or expertise. And the Obama Administration will also work with private partners to create a fellowship program that will connect new graduates looking for jobs with city governments looking for well-trained professionals.

This seems like the kind of technical assistance that many in our network are involved in, with perhaps an opportunity for networking with those new graduates to teach them about the link between a quality transportation network and a thriving town, small city, big city, and a metropolitan area.
[Central Park South with buses during morning rush hour.]

Within Our Network

One example of transportation technical assistance is Joblinks' list of case studies on its homepage. The list, with brief descriptions, gives visitors a good idea of the range of employment transportation programs, with links to detailed information.

Examples of planning in non-auto transportation are featured on NADO's Ruraltransportation.org among the Excellence Award Winners. The 2011 winners include planning for a Safe Routes to School program, sidewalks, bicycling, a volunteer driver initiative, and transit development.

Within our network, there are new events, initiatives, and even great website redevelopment. Feel free to send an email to Sheryl Gross-Glaser (grossglaser@ctaa.org) with information about your technical assistance center's great work.
[Morning taxi exodus from Central Park.]

Postscript: I promise to take transit pictures outside of New York during my travels this summer. I should have taken a photograph of one of the express buses I rode on while in the city, but I was in a rush to and from Queens.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Performance Measures

What do we measure and why?

What are our goals and are we meeting them? Are we trying to provide access to jobs or encouraging healthy lifestyles or reducing congestion or reducing carbon emissions - or all or some of the above? Are we interested in transit efficiency and measuring costs compared with revenue? Are we assessing safety of workers and riders?

Measuring Transportation Investments: The Road to Results examines whether states are measuring performance and what they are measuring. The report from the Pew Center on the States and the Rockefeller Foundation does not analyze the performance metrics, but describes what metrics are being utilized across different modes, primarily looking at auto-centric travel.

An interesting section discusses the Transportation Investment Generating
Economic Recovery program, or TIGER grants.

One typical TIGER grant awarded $22 million toward a new station in downtown Normal, Illinois, a city along the Chicago-St. Louis Amtrak Line, which will serve Amtrak, city and long-distance buses and taxis. State officials say the
project shows a potent multiplier effect in terms of economic development.
“Since that project was announced, up to $200 million has been invested in the downtown area by businesses coming into town,” says Joe Shacter, director of public and intermodal transportation at the Illinois Department of Transportation. “This included new hotels constructed right next to the intermodal facility.”

Standardized Performance Measures

If success can be replicated, if success can even be determined, then we have to compare apples with apples and and better yet, one type of Macintosh with another type. TCRP Report 141, A Methodology for Performance Measurement and Peer Comparison in the Public Transportation Industry complements "TCRP Report 88: A Guidebook for Developing a Transit Performance-Measurement System, which describes how to implement and use performance measurement on an ongoing basis at a transit agency."

TCRP Report 141 talks about "selecting performance measures appropriate to a particular performance question but [the report] does not prescribe a particular set of measures. This approach requires some thoughtfulness on the part of transit agencies in selecting measures, but also provides much-needed flexibility that allows the methodology to be applied to a wide variety of transit modes, transit agency sizes, and performance questions." The report discusses benchmarking, which is a comparison of peers, in this case transit agencies that are similar. "Participants agree upon common measures and data definitions—this provides standardization, focuses data collection on areas of interest to the group, and gives participants more confidence in the quality of the data and the results."

The report supplied six case studies of peer benchmarking for different types and sizes of public transit. Two of the case studies were (1) costs and revenue comparisons performed for Pennsylvania systems; and (2) funding source ramifications for Knoxville, Tenn.

Performance Measurement in Action

CalTrans, the California Department of Transportation, posts its performance indicators and measurements. Performance Measures For The Quarter Ending March 31, 2011 shows CalTrans' goals and realities. The document reports numbers for safety, rail ridership, single occupancy vehicle commuter trips, and much more. The frank statement of goals that arrows on charts provide when compared with the direction of actual results is illuminating and valuable data for transit agencies as well as taxpayers, voters, politicians and those who report to them.

TCRP Report 88, published in 2003, is a must read. There is a veritable department store of performance categories and measures as well as case studies.

There is tons more to read about performance measures. I am left with these thoughts: Choose how you define success, examine how success was reached in similar contexts and adapt lessons learned in keeping with the local culture and resources. And, of course, measure those results - because what gets measured is what gets resources and attention.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tribal Transit Resource

National Rural Transit Assistance Program and the National Center on Senior Transportation

RTAP and NCST have come out with a wonderful resource that goes beyond what its title aims to deliver. Crossing Great Divides: A Guide to Elder Mobility Resources and Solutions in Indian Country includes information and resources about federal and other funding sources and different types of transportation services beyond those exclusively serving older adults and tribes. Examples are given of tribal transportation services and transit. There is also information about aging programs and older driver safety, which is important for anyone who serves older adults.

The publication is also an example of cooperation among technical assistance centers. It was a joint effort of RTAP and NCST. NCST is a technical assistance center administered by Easter Seals Inc., in partnership with the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging. Included in the acknowledgments are staff from the Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA) and the Taxi, Limousine, and Paratransit Association (TLPA), as well as staff at the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), the NCST American Indian Elder Mobility Advisory Group and National RTAP’s Review Board.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Department of Transportation
Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced 22 high-speed rail projects and inter-city station improvements. The largest investment will be made along the Northeast Corridor, but there are substantial projects in the Midwest and on the West Coast. DOT published a press release with amounts listed by project.

Taxi Possibilities for Senior Citizens

National Center on Senior Transportation
NCST issued Taxis for Senior Transportation, a 16-page publication discussing the opportunities for improving taxi service for those over 65 years old. Topics covered include attitudes of drivers and older people about each other, different models for subsidized service and the taxi advantage of flexible operations. For example, in some places, family, friends or non-profits can purchase a ticket book that enables a person to particular service. A rural program is described as allowing for flexible booking of a ride along a particular route - akin to a deviated route, but operated by a taxi company. Accessible cabs are discussed in detail.
Several factors hamper efforts to improve accessible taxi services. Accessible taxis are more expensive to purchase and operate when compared to sedans, and it may take additional time to serve a customer using a wheelchair. Higher vehicle costs and lower productivity may serve as a disincentive to drivers whose incomes are based on passenger fares.
NCST is a technical assistance center administered by Easter Seals Inc., in partnership with the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging. Hal Morgan of the Taxi, Limousine, and Paratransit Association contributed to the publication.

ITS Webinar

Department of Transportation
DOT is hosting Public Transit Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Implementations – Lessons Learned, a webinar to be held on June 2, 2011, about the institutional coordination, procurement, implementation, and operation of Transit ITS for fixed route and paratransit systems. There will also be discussion of suggested methods to avoid lengthy technology deployments.

Local Story

Mountain Line Transit in Missoula, MT., added free Wi-Fi to its service. On the inaugural day, riders checked emails and facebook on the bus.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

New Tools, Instruction from Our TA Partners

Mobility Management Conference - June 6-7, 2011 in Indianapolis. This conference will have plenary sessions devoted to a variety of types of partnerships and partnering objectives, including financial stability, sustainable communities and mobility for transportation-challenged populations. Breakout sessions will address specific topics, such as one-call/one-click services, statewide perspectives, and employment transportation, among others.

National Transit Institute

NTI recently sent out word of two online classes that look interesting: Attracting Senior Drivers to Public Transportation and Managing Increasing Ridership Demand, which is based on a study of South American transit systems. Please note that even though these are online instructions, there are limited attendance slots and these classes fill up.

National RTAP

RTAP releases Procurement Pro, an online procurement project management tool. There is an introductory video that is very user friendly, which, in my case, means simple and clear. There is also an explanatory webinar and a print document, which, like the video, goes step by step and explains the way Procurement Pro works. Procurement Pro requires that the user, presumably a rural transportation provider or transit agency, establish an account.

According to the site, the application is intended to provide:
the steps needed to determine the Federal clauses and certifications that must be included in procurement documents for a Federally funded project. In return you will receive a document that includes all required Federal clauses and certifications and other supporting documentation, such as checklists and templates, to help you manage the procurement process.

RTAP will be hosting a Website Builder webinar to provide education about its new Cloud web application. The webinar is scheduled for Thursday, April 28, 2011. It will cover using the application to build a transit system presence on the Internet that will be easy to manage. The Website Builder application enables transit systems to post routes, schedules and fare information. The application is a new, free, online tool. More information about Website Builder is available at http://www.nationalrtap.org/WebApps/WebsiteBuilder.aspx.

Friday, April 8, 2011

One-Call Toolikit Debuts, Local Stories and More

The Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA) debuts the One-Call - One-Click Toolkit, which gives communities a map, as it were, of the steps to take in starting a one-call or one-click service for transportation that will either add on to an existing service, such as a 211 or Aging and Disability Resource Center, or will be an entirely new community resource. Topics such as functions to consider, the importance of partnerships and leadership, and what successful approaches already exist are explored in guided chapters, fact sheets, case studies and advice from experts.

The Disability Law Handbook, updated for 2011, is released. There is a chapter about transportation that discusses the obligations of transit and other providers as well as an explanation about paratransit. The handbook is written for the lay person.

Public Participation

SeeClickFix is launching a new Facebook application that will make public participation easier and, I suspect, more effective. Facebook users will be able to report on community issues, from pothole problems to transit initiatives, through their Facebook accounts. True, not everyone is totally wired and not everyone uses Facebook, but the expansion of apps, smart phones and Internet tools are heading toward becoming universal. These tools, generally developed for urban environments, are potentially more useful in rural areas without good transit and other means to attend public participation meetings long distances from where people live and work - especially for people who do not get out of their homes easily. SeeClickFix, reportedly mindful of its place as a convener and enabler of recent Mideast revolutionary activity, views this new application as an opportunity to increase community involvement. More details about the new application and how it is being used are available in a post from the CityFix blog.

[Editor's Note: This post was revised due to the incorrect identification of the launching company as Facebook instead of SeeClickFix. The fact that I could not get through Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is readily apparent. Readers kindly pointed out my error. Thank you. I hope I have gotten this right.]

Local Stories of Tough Times for Transit

Trumbull County, Ohio, offers a case study in how a community is handling the fiscal demands of running a transit system and human services transportation. The linked article discusses funding sources and county control to save local dollars. Trumball County is in Northeastern Ohio.

Minnesota's Senate voted to cut funding for transit, particularly passenger rail between the Twin Cities and Duluth, but resisted a bid to eliminate funding entirely for the state's passenger rail office. In a statement that speaks for the benefits of coordination and partnerships, Duluth Senator Roger Reinert urged his counterparts, "Let's keep the coordination of these transit places in place so we're not back to this position of just taking them piecemeal as they come. But we're doing one plan that's good for Minnesota."


National Transit Institute

NTi has upcoming classes in metropolitan planning, statewide planning, transit-oriented development, ADA eligibility, and attracting senior drivers to public transportation. More information is available at http://www.ntionline.com/Courses.asp.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Accounting as an Element of Coordination

Sharing the Costs of Human Services Transportation
, a TCRP toolkit and report, goes into the nitty-gritty details of accounting for transportation costs with the simple theme that assessing cost is an important step toward talking concretely about partnerships, coordination, price of service, and making decisions about transportation.

Among the topics covered in the toolkit are:
* Performance measurement options and reasons to measure performance.
* Types of transportation and costs associated with them. For example, administration of eligibility is part of the cost of paratransit service.
* Coordination of accounting practices among programs and services to determine cost of transportation and facilitate coordination of service.
* Price versus cost.
* Employing cost information to make decisions about transportation providers, price of service and assessing benefits of coordination.

The report, Volume II, discusses the history, and whys and wherefores of unaligned accounting for transportation across different types of programs.

Another major problem is that human service programs that treat transportation as a supportive rather than a primary service often combine transportation costs with the accounts of other services, precluding transportation costs from being reported as a discrete cost category within the agency. Such approaches make it impossible for any organization to directly identify total transportation costs. Any potential solution must recognize transportation as a discrete program or functional activity.
The report not only recommends simple accounting practices, but specifically discusses the tools to make them possible, even supplying a:
simple spreadsheet software provided as a companion to this report in CRP-CD-86, “Cost Sharing Model for TCRP Report 144,” can convert the results of the reporting methodology into contract rates (prices) that can be used by both transportation providers and purchasers to have confidence in the fairness of transportation charges.
The software is available at

State Coordination Page

Check out the Massachusetts Human Service Transportation Coordination webpage. It includes resources from the National Resource Center (NRC) as well as information about various state models that exist.