Friday, February 24, 2012

Doing Errands While in Transit

The need to do errands on the way to or the way home from work is a major hassle of taking transit. These are a couple of recent examples of transit bringing the errands to the station; perhaps, one day, coming to a bus stop or subway station near you.

Farm stands at bus stops? Markets at transit stations? How about virtual grocery shopping, with just pictures of supermarket products? Virtual shopping at stations is happening in Korea and, perhaps, coming to places around the United States if we all learn a lesson from Philadelphia's transit agency.

Next Bus: 10 Minutes; Milk and Bread Available

Read Commuters and virtual storefronts - a match made in heaven? from the Sydney Morning Herald, via the TransitWire. Phillie transit riders will soon be able to use a smartphone app to shop from a virtual wall of grocery items. Reminds me of being a little girl and having a milk machine in the basement of our apartment house and seltzer and soda delivered weekly (yes, we had a seltzer man). As a New York native, any delivery or convenience pick up resonates; I am sure across the demographic and density spectrums, convenience is appreciated (though few have experienced seltzer delivery).

This is a nice solution for cities and suburbs, anywhere where delivery services work well. But can something like online ordering or shops at the bus station work in rural areas? Can supermarkets deliver pre-ordered items to bus stops? The answer is "it depends," which means odds of success probably increase with flexibility to try an idea that is developed with local conditions, culture and partners.

And Pick Up the Kids

Two of the biggest logistical concerns for working parents are transportation and child care. One transit agency is doing both. To attract good employees who can work the nontraditional hours that transit and other industries demand, Prairie Transit in Spearfish, S.D., "opened its own state-licensed child care facility right in its new transit center." The article, Community care: Day care centers draw workers to towns, appeared in the Rapid City Journal.

Barb Cline, the executive director of the Prairie Hills Transit system and a CTAA Board member, explained the symbiotic needs of employers and parents.

"One of the things we found in our hiring process is that when potential candidates were given the hours they needed to work, they said, ‘I'm sorry we can't work before 6, or I'm sorry we can't work after 5, I'm sorry we don't have child care on weekends,'" Cline said.

Cline knew that she wasn't the only employer with that problem. As a United Way agency, she had visited with others who agreed there was a need for more, quality day care providers in the community.

So the system, which operates a public bus system as well as a dial-a-ride service for people of all ages, decided to take the problem under its wing.

Now transit riders can arrive at the transit center and get the kids. Perhaps groceries will be next.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Project ACTION Offers Practical Answers for People with Disabilities

Easter Seals Project ACTION
The new Accessible Transportation for Students—New Online Community will help students, their families, educators, human service providers, and transit professionals to learn from each other. Participants can use this forum to share stories and strategies related to providing accessible and inclusive transportation for students who are in school as well as those transitioning to post-school settings. Participants may discuss how transportation education content is integrated into class curriculum, instruction and academic standards; and upload or post links to helpful resources, projects or organizations.

ESPA's newsletter has a new feature, Ask Project ACTION, which poses a practical query from a person with a mobility disability. This month's question and answer are about who is responsible for snow removal at bus stops. For the person writing in, this is an important issue because he or she is afraid that ice and snow at the stop will interfere with walking with a cane (though rubber tips have no traction on ice) and cause a fall.

Local Stories - Coordination

In Campbell County , WY., coordination is moving forward. The Basin Radio Network reports that a team of organizations are working together on a coordination plan, one of the first steps of which is to educate and seek support from local political leaders. The article, Group works to coordinate public transportation, lists the organizations involved and goes into detail about the near-term plan. Staff from the team of organizations attended the recent Colorado/Wyoming Institute for Coordination held in November 2011.

Like many communities, Yuma County, AZ., is experiencing reductions in transit service. For people with disabilities, these cuts are significant because there are limited or no transportation alternatives available. Dial-A-Ride alternative arranged, an article on the YumaSun website, tells the story of a woman who retired early due to a disability and what dial-a-ride cutbacks, ADA transportation rules, and non-profit efforts have meant for her.

NYC Engages Riders - And They Have Opinions

Miracles do happen and one is going on in my hometown of New York (that's the city). The New York Times reports that subway announcements may be suggested by the public. The comments, with suggested announcements, are the best part. Warning: Some of the comments to the New York Times article have a biting, NYC humor. Other comments suggesting announcements are charming, such as requests for facts about construction of famous buildings, sports scores, and fanciful destinations (platform 9 3/4 was one; anyone heading to Hogwarts?). My favorite announcements when I lived in New York were on the D train, when it was still the Brighton Line. When the train left the city, a conductor every evening would declare that we were entering the bee-bopping borough of Brooklyn. How right he was.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Mobility Management Webinars Very Soon

Partnership for Mobility Management
Performance Measures for Mobility Managers - Feb. 9 webinar. This webinar will discuss performance measures as they relate specifically to mobility management. It will cover the state of performance measurement of mobility management programs and where there is room for improvement. Speakers include one of our regional ambassadors and authors of Performance Measures for Public Transit Mobility Management, a national survey of the current use and types of performance measures for mobility management. The Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) study offers recommendations that will support mobility management programs in telling their stories and providing evidence of their value.

Easter Seals Project ACTION
Connecting CILs and Mobility Managers for Accessible Transportation - Feb. 29. The webinar will explore ESPA's work to strengthen the link between the disability community, specifically independent living centers, and mobility management programs.