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.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Emergency and Aging Care Webinars; Local Profiles

The National Association of Regional Councils NARC) will be hosting a webinar about emergency preparedness lessons learned from Japan's multi-dimensional disasters that occurred one on top of each other. Sudden Emergency: An Insight into Japan's State of Emergency will be held tomorrow, March 23, at 3 p.m. ET.

The Administration on Aging (AoA) is hosting a webinar, Care Transitions in Action: From Hospital to Home in Two Communities, which will explore in depth care transitions partnerships between hospitals and area agencies on aging in two communities. Transportation issues are not specifically mentioned. The webinar will be held on March 30 at 2 p.m. ET.

Around the Country

The Dublin-area Alameda County Transportation Commission will hold a community workshop this week to discuss a 25-year transportation plan. From
Key issues to be addressed in the planning process include planning for a multi‐modal system that equitably moves people and goods efficiently and cost effectively throughout the county; planning for the full range of travel needs and the diversity of users of transportation systems; integrating new legislation that requires greater coordination between transportation and land‐use planning and a focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The Community Planning Association of Southwest Idaho (COMPASS)posts a Mobility Management Toolkit with a cornucopia of resources for promoting community transportation and zero-emission modes (translation: biking and walking), and carpooling.
Templates for many of the items/ideas listed in the background information,
including model lease agreements and a model ordinance. These can be
downloaded and personalized for your use, or can simply serve as initial ideas
for creating your own materials. Feel free to cut and paste; mix and match;
add, delete, and change these materials to suit your needs.
Visit COMPASS on facebook for a terrific example of engaging the community about transportation planning and usage, and community design.

Reaching Out to Seniors

AARP New York is hosting a series of webinars for Westchester residents. Westchester is generally affluent, suburban and primarily auto-dependent, though it has transit as well as Metro-North train service into the city. The county is trying to become more senior friendly. The webinars cover how to get around without a car and walking safely. This mode for sharing information was selected as an "innovative way to enable seniors to remain active in their communities as well as a valuable resource for adult children caring for aging parents."

Mobility Management Profiles

The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) has posted mobility management profiles, including a case study of COAST, the transportation program of the Council on Aging & Human Services (CoA&HS), a nonprofit social service agency located in rural eastern Washington near the Washington-Idaho border. [When using the link, scroll down to the profiles section.] COAST serves the general public as well as transportation-challenged populations, over a large, multi-county, area.

I despise long quotes, but this one is packed with a wonderful illustration of mobility management and partnerships in action.
COAST’s customer orientation is reflected in its comprehensive client list. Its mobility management services extend to members of the general public, seniors, school children, commuters, persons with physical, mental, and developmental disabilities, low income persons, Medicaid recipients, veterans, and many others. COAST has agreements with a wide range of agencies and service providers, including public transit operators, private for profit providers, area agencies on aging, schools, sheltered workshops, hospitals, Head Start programs, and many others. COAST brokers or provides services at night or during weekends when such services are not offered by other public transportation providers or to destinations not otherwise served. They manage vehicle sharing among various agencies, and they train drivers and maintain vehicles for many agencies. In order to establish this network, COAST has been reaching out to the community. When new facilities open up, whether it is a group home, a small non-profit social service agency, or other agency, COAST approaches them and informs what COAST can do to meet their transportation needs.

A Chicago-area county is studying coordination options to make transportation easier for clients of human services agencies as well as those accessing medical care. An article in the Highland Park News reveals that the challenge the county confronts is a common one: "[T]ownship and other paratransit services only serve residents in specific geographic areas and there is little service available for residents who need to get from one part of the county to another." Thanks to Jane Hardin for sharing the article.

Monday, March 7, 2011


February's ambassador blogs hold a treasure trove of information about developments across the country. Here are some highlights; visit the NRC website for these informative monthly updates.

Beverly Ward - Region I Ambassador blog
Bev brings news of New Hampshire's regional efforts to create transportation options and to expand and improve opportunities for public involvement in transportation planning.

Barb Singleton - Region X Ambassador blog
Barb writes about statewide coordination in Alaska, specifically the Coordinated Transportation Task Force, its responsibilities and consensus on recommendations for state-level coordination.

James McLary - Region II Ambassador blog
James shares his knowledge about Medicaid and its related transportation program, the difficulty of coordinating that transportation with other transportation services, and an example that demonstrates that coordination is possible.

Margi Ness - Region VII Ambassador blog
Margi announces a Nebraska coordination success story and how federal officials are noticing local livability and coordination efforts. At the other end of the spectrum, Margi discusses the start of a senior transportation coordination effort in Shawnee County.


National Transit Institute (NTI)
NTI has upcoming classes on rural transportation technology. Please note that NTI classes fill up. Courses on mobility management and ADA paratransit eligibility are full well in advance.

Association for Travel Instruction (ATI)
ATI's annual conference - Aug, 12-14, 2011 in Philadelphia. ATI is calling for presentation proposals, including such topics as marketing travel instruction programs, travel training at community colleges, ADA paratransit certification, travel instruction for senior citizens, discussing travel instruction with parents, caretakers, educators, and job coaches, developing and maintaining program partnerships, and funding.