Monday, January 24, 2011

Disability Community - Resources for Making Transit a Better Fit

Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (ETA)
ETA has created the Disability and Employment Community of Practice. A search of the website produces many of the disability and employment-transportation resources from the TA network. The site is focusing on resources for employers and access and accommodations. The group is looking for members with professional interests in this field.

Easter Seals Project ACTION (ESPA)
ESPA has two upcoming teleconferences. Deviated Fixed Route and Demand Response Service: Creating Solutions in Rural and Small Urban Communities will take place on February 16. The teleconference will focus on the importance of a strong connection between transit and disability groups.

Planning for the Accessibility of Livable and Sustainable Communities, to be held on March 9, will feature representatives from the Department of Transportation discussing the encouragement of community connections to housing, employment and economic development through accessible transportation. A representative from Peoria, Ill. will discuss the city’s plans to redevelop a downtown area using the principles of livability and the role that accessibility plays in the development of those plans.

ESPA continues its Introduction to Travel Training course, a free training initiative that aims to increase the skills, knowledge and abilities of travel training professionals. This intensive, three-day course includes both classroom and field instruction in an environment where travel trainers can directly apply and practice new skills on the street. The next course will be held March 15-17 in Los Angeles, Calif.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Performance Measures

Performance-based Planning and Performance Measures, a peer exchange report of the Transportation Planning Capacity Building Program discusses the purpose and effective use of performance measures. Though transit and human-services transportation were not specifically discussed, this report has general advice for crafting and implementing performance measures.

A performance measure is defined as:
[A]n indicator that objectively evaluates how well something is performing, using quantitative or sometimes qualitative data. Measures can describe performance at one point in time; track progress over time; or identify gaps between desired and actual performance.
These include measures of output - what staff are doing, outcomes - the results of what has been done, indirect outcomes and process. Targets are quantitative accomplishments, in terms of measuring performance, usually with a deadline.

Lessons Learned

* Limit the number of performance measures.
System level performance measurement should be limited to the fewest number of measures that can adequately describe system performance at a level that policy makers find useful. If an agency is using too many measures planning can quickly become too complex, making it difficult for policy makers to focus on, track, and understand performance.
* Articulate goals before determining performance measures. Do not use a performance measure just because data is available.
* Performance measures should reflect broad goals and customer concerns.
Ideally a given performance measure is an accurate indicator of the performance being measured, but often a second best measure needs to be used until better data become available.
* Assign responsibility for measuring performance to one person, even if measures "require partnerships within and outside the organization. If responsibilities are spread out results may be sporadic, making it difficult to integrate measures into an agency’s business practices."
* Conduct an annual review of performance measurements and not merely targets for performance.
* Monitor for unintended consequences of performance measurements.
* Build advocacy and support for performance measures at all levels of an organization.

[Fish-shaped bike rack in Long Beach, Calif.]

The report warns that threats to effective use of performance measure are cultural resistance within an organization and political priorities within or external to an organization.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Out in the Field - Stories of Our Ambassadors

One of my resolutions this year is to take the time once a month to look at each of the ambassador blogs and write about some of the highlights. Last year, I improved to the rate of reading the blogs about once every two months, so this small change will not be burdensome and I expect to feel that much closer to the people and organizations that our ambassadors serve each day.

Highlights for January

Dave Cyra - Region IX Ambassador blog
This month Dave writes about a California partnership for procurement of equipment. These details will be useful for transit managers and procurement staff.

Roland Mross - Region V Ambassador blog
Roland finds a coordination success story 40 miles east of Columbus, OH, in Licking County. The partnership includes human services, transit and emergency management. Roland says:

They are guided by the principle that if nothing is attempted, nothing is gained. During my visit, the key components of what we have stressed for successful coordination were clearly evident. Initiative, leadership, trust, sharing, and a clear focus on serving the citizens.

JoAnn Hutchinson - Region IV Ambassador blog
JoAnn reminds us of the wealth of resources available at the websites of the National Resource Center and United We Ride. These two sites offer information on everything from mobility management to technical assistance to transportation for vulnerable individuals.

Explaining Transportation Service Realities

NRC Director Chis Zeilinger is sharing his insights in a monthly message. These are well worth reading, and I am not saying that because I am an NRC staff member. Chris has decades of experience in DC and in the field. From up close and through the lens of legislation and regulation, Chris sees the realities of coordination and partnerships and how to start and nurture productive conversations.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Funding News

Funding for Transportation-Challenged

To assist the transition of intercity buses to ADA-accessible transportation, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is providing "$20 million to help meet the 2012 federal deadline for making coaches accessible to riders using wheelchairs and other mobility devices. The money comes from the Federal Transit Administration’s Over-the-Road Bus Program." The program funds bus line accommodations for people with disabilities, such as lifts and other accessibility components for new vehicles and retrofitting of older vehicles. A list of grantees is available at

The FTA also announced that "[t]ribal Transit funds will provide grants to tribes for 59 separate projects, including transit equipment purchases and facility construction and improvements. Participants under this program include federally-recognized tribes and Alaska Native villages." Information about specific projects is available at

Other December FTA funding announcements are available at the news release page of its website. Other funds granted will go toward transit in the parks, planning to analyze local transit options, and major urban transit projects.

HUD Rural Funding Opportunity

The National Association of Regional Councils (NARC) has posted information about a rural funding opportunity from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. $25,750,000 will be available for grants made through the Rural Innovation Fund (RIF) for "new and innovative solutions to poor housing conditions and concentrated poverty in rural and tribal areas," especially proposals that incorporate an entrepreneurial approach. Grants of up to $300,000 will be awarded for single-purpose projects, up to $2 million for comprehensive projects and up to $800,000 for tribal economic development and entrepreneurship projects.