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In This Issue
Volunteer driver programs help residents participate in community life
Accelerated path to CDL for veterans
Find a travel instruction program near you
Stakeholders gather in Southeast & Metrowest
Transportation advocate rides community transportation
Regional coordination teams highlighted
New resources from winter 2013
Follow us on Twitter
Upcoming events
We want to know your stories
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Join Our Mailing List


We are pleased to release this April 2013 issue of the MassMobility newsletter. MassMobility contains news of interest to anyone who is interested in community transportation, human service transportation coordination, or mobility management in Massachusetts.


This newsletter is compiled by the Human Service Transportation (HST) Office of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS), as part of our federally funded two-year grant to develop a Mobility Management Information Network across Massachusetts. 

Volunteer driver programs help residents participate in community life 

Across the Commonwealth, volunteer driver programs are providing opportunities for people to participate in their communities and access life-sustaining services. The EOHHS Human Service Transportation Office is pleased to release a new information brief on volunteer driver programs. This brief is the second in our Massachusetts Community Transportation Series and discusses the basic elements of successful volunteer driver programs as well as best practices around insurance and volunteer screening. Organizations that are thinking about starting a new program or looking at ways to streamline and improve their existing volunteer driver program will find it a useful resource.


Volunteer driver programs can have a huge impact on riders' lives. For example, Joe is a vibrant young man who lives in central Massachusetts. He is an avid sports fan and loves to be actively engaged in his community. He is also a person with an intellectual disability. When he and his family were notified that paratransit service would no longer be available due to route changes on the local bus line, they had nowhere to turn until they found out about the volunteer driver program at the Millbury Council on Aging. Since then, Joe has had transportation to medical appointments, employment, and internships. He is also enrolled in a training program at the local community college. When he finishes the program, he will be ready to work in an office setting - all of which is made possible by the transportation he gets through the volunteer driver program. His mother reports that the drivers have gotten to know Joe personally and are "sensitive, respectful, and easy-going - Millbury is a lifeline for us."


Volunteer driver programs are indeed a lifeline for people who have no other form of transportation available to them. As well as helping people get to work and school, volunteer driver programs help reduce isolation for elderly individuals. Mrs. T., 83, from a Boston Metro North community, had been the primary caregiver for her husband. When he entered a nursing home in a nearby community, there was no way to get there via public transportation though it was only six miles away.  Through the TRIP Metro North program, Mrs. T. was able to get rides from a friend and reimburse her for the mileage so she could visit Mr. T. While her husband has since passed away, Mrs. T. continues to use TRIP Metro North for personal errands and other shopping. Since her children work full time, she said she would be "lost without TRIP." She called TRIP a "wonderful service that really is a lifesaver." For information about volunteer driver programs in Massachusetts, or to locate one near you, visit our volunteer driver webpage.
Massachusetts accelerates path to CDL licensing for veterans 

In March, Lieutenant Governor Murray and the Registry of Motor Vehicles announced that qualified Massachusetts veterans and service members with two or more years of experience operating military vehicles are now exempt from the road test portion of the Commercial Driver's License (CDL) application process. This policy is part of the VALOR Act, which was passed by the Massachusetts Legislature and signed by Governor Patrick last year. Learn more about the VALOR Act or benefits for transportation providers and other employers that hire veterans.

Find a travel instruction program near you  

Travel instruction can help seniors, people with disabilities, and all residents learn to use public transit to navigate their communities independently - but only if you know where to find travel instruction programs. The HST Office's travel instruction page now includes links to an interactive map of travel instruction programs across the state, as well as an accessible list of the offerings. Individuals and families who are looking for help learning how to ride public transit systems can use these resources to find contact information for travel instruction programs in their communities. In addition, travel trainers and organizations considering offering travel instruction can use the map to connect with peer programs.


If you know of a program that is not already listed on the map, please  let us know so that we can add it. In addition, Easter Seals Project ACTION is partnering with the HST Office on a survey of school systems across Massachusetts to determine which districts offer travel instruction. Please share this survey with any educators or transition specialists you know in Massachusetts.

Community transportation stakeholders gather in Southeastern Mass and Metrowest regions

In March, community transportation stakeholders in the Metrowest area and the Fall River/New Bedford area convened to identify shared needs and opportunities for collaboration. The Metrowest transportation coordination team invited a range of new members to the team, including representatives from many different sectors - senior services, workforce development, mental health, and disability. They met on March 21 and are exploring ideas for new projects, including travel instruction, advocacy with their local transit agency, and senior transportation solutions. On March 28, representatives of community organizations around Southeastern Massachusetts gathered to rekindle a discussion about vehicle sharing and cooperation around fuel purchasing and vehicle maintenance.


When community organizations come together, they can share strategies and pool their resources to enable more of their consumers to get the trips they need in a cost-effective way. If you would like more information about convening stakeholders in your region, please contact us.

Transportation advocate takes a ride on community transportation   

MassMobility would like to thank Transportation Advocate Franny Osman for contributing this guest article. If you would like to write about a community transportation service in your area or about your experiences as a mobility manger, please contact us.


The beauty of the The Montachusett Regional Transit Authority (MART) Boston shuttle is that east Central Mass. riders can be dropped right at the door of whatever Veteran's Administration (VA) or metropolitan Boston medical facility - or Alewife station - they choose. Last week, I rode the shuttle from Littleton Station to the Jamaica Plain VA hospital and back, to familiarize myself with the service. On the mid-day run, I observed four passengers being picked up at the two Veterans Administration (VA) hospitals, in Bedford and Jamaica Plain, to head back toward Fitchburg. When we pulled in to the Jamaica Plain VA hospital, a passenger asked for a bathroom break. The driver was patient and amiable. "If you gotta go, you gotta go," he said. The driver said other common stops include Lahey Clinic in Burlington, the VA clinic on Causeway St. in the North End, Mass. General Hospital, Mass. Eye and Ear Infirmary, Boston Medical, Tufts New England, and Children's Hospital.


The Boston shuttle has guaranteed stops at the Fitchburg Intermodal Transit Center, Leominster Senior Center, Devens campus of Mount Wachusett Community College, and 2/495 Littleton Station. All stops farther east, and return rides, are by request. The regular fare is $12 one-way, comparable to the cost of a parallel trip by train and subway; rates are lower for elderly and disabled customers ($10, and less for Personal Care Attendants) and monthly pass holders, and free for veterans. The 16-seat van (equipped for four wheelchairs) leaves the Fitchburg Intermodal Transportation Center Monday through Friday for a round trip to Boston at 7:30 am, 12:00 noon, and 3 pm.


MART administrator Mohammed Khan said that there are about five regular daily riders on the Boston shuttle. Khan commented on the administrative challenge of the shuttle running through multiple Regional Transit Authority service areas - both Montachusett and Lowell - as well as the MBTA. Yet these expanded services are key to providing improved mobility. The more we Massachusetts residents know about the (often under-used) services that are already in place, the fuller the vehicles and the fuller our lives. I see people focusing on the most crucial trips - to medical appointments, job interviews, and work - and not even attempting to follow their dreams of more social, cultural, and civic activities because the job of figuring out transportation takes all day. Existing technology and coordination, interagency cooperation, and legislation that helps break down barriers are the tools we will use to improve everyone's options.

Regional coordination teams highlighted

The Winter 2013 edition of Easter Seals Project ACTION's Update discusses the Work Without Limits transportation coordination teams as a national best practice. Teams have been meeting since Work Without Limits and CTAA offered a coordination institute in 2009. In addition to regular team meetings, representatives of all active teams convene twice a year to share updates and brainstorm strategies together. The next biannual meeting is coming up on April 26. For more information or for help starting a team in your region, please contact us.

New resources from winter 2013  

New handbook discusses emergency preparedness for paratransit 

Transportation providers may be interested in The Transportation Cooperative Research Program's Paratransit Emergency Preparedness and Operations Handbook, published in February 2013. The handbook makes recommendations for ADA paratransit and public demand-response services in urban, suburban, rural, and tribal areas and includes a capability self-assessment tool that providers can use.


Affordability of transportation

Published in February by Todd Litman of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, Transportation Affordability: Evaluation and Improvement Strategies discusses strategies for incorporating affordability into transportation planning.


Where was that again? 

If you saw something once on the HST website but do not remember exactly where, we now have a Site Map to help you locate information efficiently.

Follow us on Twitter 

Are you on Twitter? If so, follow us @MassMobility for links to community transportation resources relevant to organizations and agencies here in Massachusetts. If you aren't on Twitter, you can still see our posts online at


What social media are you using? Let us know where you like to find information and where you like to share information.

Upcoming events and funding opportunities

HST has launched a calendar of mobility management events and funding opportunities for Massachusetts.

We want to know your stories

If you have suggestions for news items or topics to cover in future newsletters, please contact us. Comments, questions, and feedback are also welcome.

Please share this newsletter

Please forward this newsletter widely to others who are interested in mobility management, community transportation, or related topics and encourage them to subscribe to receive future newsletters and publications. 

You can also read archive editions of all MassMobility newsletters.