Monday, January 30, 2012

Accessibility - Tools, Classes to Make it Happen

Easter Seals Project ACTION

Fundamentals of Travel Training Administration - Online course - Feb. 20. The course will cover launching, operating and maintaining a travel training program, including details such as job descriptions; hiring, training and supervising travel trainers; developing budgets; and understanding travel training services offered throughout the country.

Department of Transportation

Not infrequently, I get calls from people seeking information about long-distance travel options for people with disabilities. Here is a new website and toll-free helpline resource. Transportation Services Administration Cares: Travelers with Disabilities and Medical Conditions was launched in December by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to provide information and assistance to passengers with disabilities and medical conditions and their families before they fly. TSA Cares is available toll free at 1-855-787-2227, which operates Monday through Friday 9 a.m. - 9 p.m. Eastern Time, excluding federal holidays.

National Transit Communications Accessibility Survey

Funded by the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family National Center for Accessible Media at WGBH, the Oregon State University Survey Research Center, and the National Center for Accessible Transportation (housed at Oregon State University), this survey will collect data about the technologies, policies and practices relating to transit-related communications. "Our goal for this study is to identify opportunities for universal and accessible design considerations in the chain of communication from inside a transit agency all the way to travelers."

Friday, January 27, 2012

Coordination: Regional, at National Parks, for Seniors, and Courses

National Conference of State Legislatures
NCSL issues its quarterly Coordination Newsletter. News of taxi involvement in accessibility for people with disabilities and low-income populations. The newsletter mentions a few statewide reports, two of which studied mobility needs of older adults. The Michigan report announces a startling statistic. "By far the most common help given by caregivers was related to transportation, with more than 90% of respondents statewide reporting to have provided this type of care."

NCSL also issued Regional Human Service Transportation Coordinating Councils: Synthesis, Case Studies and Directory. The directory lists regional coordinating councils across the country and contact information for each. The synthesis defines these councils as:
... multidisciplinary, in that they coordinate among diverse transportation and human services providers; regional, in that they coordinate across multiple cities, counties or other local jurisdictions; and ongoing, in that they engage in active, ongoing coordination, not just coordination planning or other intermittent activities.

The synthesis also explains the requirements in federal legislation for coordinated transportation planning. The complementary relationship of state and regional coordinating councils is discussed. Different state and regional structures are explored. The case studies are quite interesting. They look at different states, their legal frameworks, how regional councils were created and what they are doing. The publication does not cover the performance results of regional coordinating councils that have existed for several years and whether services to communities are improved and people are enjoying greater mobility.

More acronyms to add:
regional coordinating council - RCC
local coordinating council - LCC
statewide coordinating council - SCC (not to be confused with the SEC, which refers either to football or to regulation of publicly-traded companies).

Getting to and around National Parks

Paul S. Sarbanes Transit in Parks
TA center in the news: Secretary LaHood's Fastlane blog praised the Paul S. Sarbanes Transit in Parks program (TRIPTAC). The program brings mobility options to park visitors and helps "green" the park experience and environment.
Federal lands in 24 states and the District of Columbia will use funds to enhance transportation choices for a cleaner, greener visitor experience. Projects range from redesigning and widening the Nauset Bicycle Trail at Cape Cod National Seashore in Massachusetts to purchasing new buses to transport visitors between Sausalito and the Muir Woods National Monument in California.

Funding for Supplemental Transportation Programs for Seniors

Beverly Foundation

The Beverly Foundation, which fosters senior transportation programs, is accepting applications for awards to 18 senior transportation services program of grants of $10,000 each. Previous applicants (including past STAR Award winners) are eligible.

The eligibility criteria for a 2012 STAR Award include delivery of transportation services to senior passengers; knowledge of the organization's transportation service data (e.g. miles driven, number of drivers, number of vehicles, cost per ride, number of senior passengers, etc.); and ability to describe good practices employed in delivering transportation services to senior passengers. "Senior transportation programs that mobilize (or plan to mobilize) volunteer drivers will be looked upon favorably."

The application deadline is February 1st.
The Beverly Foundation’s mission is to foster new ideas and options to enhance mobility and transportation for older adults. The Foundation’s STAR Search program has gathered information on more than 1,400 services that provide transportation to older adults in communities across America.
Upcoming Courses

National Transit Institute

NTI has many courses listed on its website. Here are a few that are currently available.
Managing Community Mobility - a few classes coming to the South.
Comprehensive ADA Paratransit Eligibility
Paratransit Management and Operations

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

TA Opportunities for Rural & Tribal Communities

Community Transportation Association of America
CTAA is currently seeking applicants for its 2012 Rural and Tribal Transportation Technical Assistance Program. Through the rural and tribal programs, CTAA offers free hands-on technical assistance to rural communities and tribal organizations. The assistance can help start new transit programs, expand or enhance existing services, or develop facilities.

Projects will stimulate economic development and small business growth. The results of the Maine project, described below, were featured in a New York Times opinion piece, Thinking Outside the Bus.

Typical Project Gets Attention

The following are some typical projects.

Brunswick, Maine-Technical assistance project developed plan for implementation of new transit service in Brunswick, serving local residents and students of Bowdoin College. The Brunswick Explorer service will interface with extension of Amtrak's Downeaster trains to Portland and Boston. The transit service will also serve the multiuse redevelopment of the former Brunswick Naval Air Station site.

According to the New York Times (the primary news source for my extended family):
In the world of public transit, the Brunswick Explorer is a radical idea. Its genesis came from a coalition of local social service agencies — organizations that work with the elderly, mentally ill, disabled, homeless, as well as with college students and local hospitals. They approached Coastal Transit, a nonprofit regional transit provider to be a part of their coalition. Coastal Transit’s executive director, Lee Karker, had worked on two other rural bus systems that fell apart. Both were designed to fill objectives other than helping riders; one was supposed to clear congestion out of a tourist town, and the other just drove from one end of town to the other without much regard for where riders wanted to go. Karker describes the process of setting up the Explorer as “more organic.” “Before when we looked at bus routes we got input on traffic patterns, not input from the users,” he said. “Now we’re trying to be more entrepreneurial.” Working as part of the coalition, rather than as transit engineers, changed their worldview. “We have a tendency to make a transit system look the way we think it should look rather than what the community needs and what they want,” Karker said.
[Klamath Falls, Ore., where Amtrak meets local transit.]

Sitka, Alaska- CTAA provided service planning assistance that led to establishment of public transit services operated by the Sitka Tribe of Alaska. Assistance also helped identify facility needs for transit operations and vehicle maintenance.

Rhinelander, Wisconsin- Project enabled community to establish mobility management program to provide coordinated public transit service in three counties.

Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, North Carolina- Technical assistance helped Cherokee Transit enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of its services, including a park shuttle serving the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Assistance also helped Cherokee develop plan for new transit facility.


The Programs provide planning assistance only, from CTAA staff and consultants. Although CTAA cannot provide operating or capital funding through the Programs, potential funding sources for implementation will be identified.

Rural projects must be located in communities of less than 50,000 population, and outside designated urbanized areas. Applicants must be for-profit or not-for-profit entities; potential governmental applicants should contact CTAA for further guidance.

Tribal applicants should be federally-recognized tribal entities.

Deadline Approaching

Applications are for long-term projects and are due at CTAA by February 7, 2012. Long-term projects will be selected competitively. CTAA also provides short-term technical assistance; applications can be submitted at any time. For more information contact Charles Rutkowski at 202.299.6593, e-mail at, or visit the website of the Rural and Tribal Transportation Technical Assistance Program.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Access for Low-Wage Workers and People with Disabilities; Local Mobility Management Stories

ADA National Network
The ADA National Network distributes an ADA checklist for public facilities - including transit and transportation facilities, with the exception of airports, and social service locations, such as daycare centers and offices. The checklist visually and with minimal text shows the standards, including parking, entrances, hallways, sloped surfaces, handrails, seating and much more.

Department of Labor
DOL releases a Training and Employment Notice (TEN) No. 21-11, Strategies to Meet One-Stop Career Centers' Business and Job-Seeker Customer Needs for Employment-Related Transportation Services. In case you do not know what a TEN is (I do not), in seven-pages this document explains what workforce professionals can do to find out about transportation needs for employees in the community and what partnerships can accomplish to improve transportation options. The TEN has a how-to approach and links to 25 profiles compiled by the Joblinks program at Community Transportation Association of America.

[Galesburg, Ill. Amtrak station at dusk.]

Local Stories

With federal and state funding, Hopelink in the Seattle area is starting a "Ride Around the Sound program and information kiosks serving veterans and medical facilities, as well as the existing Mobility Management program." Hopelink has travel training; it is working on a one-click transportation website and smartphone apps; and it is part of coordination efforts at the county and regional levels. Programs focus on self-sufficiency, which will save tax dollars. The article, Hopelink secures funding for new and existing transportation programs, appeared on the Bothell and Kenmore Reporters website.

The Broome-Tioga Mobility Management Project, which operates in the area of Binghamton, New York, will be using a mobility management approach to assisting riders with upcoming service cuts at Broome County Transit. "The county is eliminating some late-night runs and instituting longer waits at some bus stops as part of the service changes." The one-call service is staffing two mobility management associates to give riders advice and information about car-sharing and carpooling options. The one-call service is located at the United Way of Broome County. Program aims to help transit riders appeared on