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In This Issue
Northern Berkshire organizations unite to address transportation barriers due to hospital closure
MassDOT awards Community Transit Grants
RCCs form in Southeast, North Shore, & Minuteman
RIDE contract renewed
RCC participants gather for statewide meeting
Local travel trainers attend national conference
MBTA pilots late-night service
Transportation Camp comes to Cambridge
Bay State Bike Week
From the desk of the Statewide Mobility Manager
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This April 2014 issue of the MassMobility newsletter contains news of interest to anyone who is interested in community transportation, human service transportation coordination, or mobility management in Massachusetts.


MassMobility 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 grant to develop a Mobility Management Information Network across Massachusetts.

Northern Berkshire organizations unite to address transportation barriers due to hospital closure

On March 26, Northern Berkshire County received word that the North Adams Regional Hospital and its affiliated services would be closing down in two days. This closure meant the loss of the region's largest employer and only hospital. The next closest hospital was located over 20 miles away in Pittsfield, leaving people without transportation in the lurch.


Community organizations mobilized quickly to help patients get to their appointments in Pittsfield. Councils on Aging in Adams, North Adams, and Williamstown sketched out a partnership where each would send a van to Pittsfield once a week for seniors of any of the three towns to ride. They then called BerkshireRides for help developing and implementing this service. At the same time, Adams Community Bank approached BerkshireRides, offering to help fund transportation for area residents to healthcare services in Pittsfield. BerkshireRides reached out to the Elder Services of Berkshire County and the Berkshire Community Action Council (BCAC), both of which were also interested in joining the partnership.


BCAC was already transporting passengers daily from Pittsfield to North Adams, and its van was empty on the return trip from North Adams to Pittsfield. BCAC agreed to fill these empty seats with passengers from North Adams who need medical services in Pittsfield. In the afternoon, BCAC will take these riders back to North Adams on its way to pick up its passengers and bring them home to Pittsfield. The group decided on three stops for the BCAC van, and the three Councils on Aging agreed to do local demand-response feeder trips to get riders to those stops in the morning and back home in the afternoon.


BerkshireRides will screen riders and offer mobility management services to help riders understand and use any other options they may have. For example, some riders may be able to use the Berkshire Regional Transit Authority fixed route bus. Others may need help updating their PT-1 form to qualify for MassHealth transportation to the new location.


The group is starting with a six-month pilot. Service launches on Monday, April 28. To reserve a space on the BCAC shuttle, call BerkshireRides at (413) 664-0300, with at least two business days advance notice.

MassDOT awards Community Transit Grants

On April 2, MassDOT announced awards for the annual Community Transit Grant Program, which funds vehicles and operating expenses for transportation for seniors and people with disabilities across Massachusetts. More information is available on the Community Transit Grant Program website, including a list of this year's awards. Congratulations to all organizations whose projects were selected for funding.

Regional Coordinating Councils form in Southeast, North Shore, and Minuteman regions

On March 21, the Greater Attleboro Taunton Regional Transit Authority (GATRA) held a breakfast kickoff to inform stakeholders about the formation of a Regional Coordinating Council, as well as the Comprehensive Regional Transit Plan that Regional Transit Authorities are currently doing. GATRA presented on the findings of an unmet needs survey that they did in partnership with the Brockton Area Transit Authority and Southeastern Regional Transit Authority, and they also presented on an analysis of trip requests entered into GATRA's online trip planner Ride Match. Attendees represented a diverse range of stakeholders, including town planners, veteran-serving organizations, employers, and human service agencies, and participants engaged in a lively discussion about the region's needs and opportunities. The first official RCC meeting is scheduled for April 30. Meeting materials from the March 21 meeting are available on GATRA's website.


The North Shore RCC launched on March 25 with a meeting at North Shore Elder Services in Danvers. Stakeholders heard from Mark Whitmore of the North Shore Career Center about the history of coordination on the North Shore, which has had a strong coordination team since 2009. Attendees also discussed and added to the results of preliminary focus groups, which identified a large number of transportation challenges in the region, and then participated in a group activity to help identify which of those challenges to prioritize. 


The first meeting of the Minuteman RCC, located in the Greater Acton and Concord region, took place on April 15. After a presentation and discussion of the Executive Order 530 recommendations and goals, the group identified some challenges unique to their region, including the fact that their area touches up to four different transit authorities (the Lowell, MetroWest, and Montachusett Regional Transit Authorities, as well as the MBTA). Attendees then brainstormed a list of transportation modes currently prevalent in the region as well as modes that could be used, such as bikeshares, pedi-cabs, and even canoes! The group also discussed the need for fluid boundaries for their RCC, as they are at the confluence of many different regions and transportation routes. Other topics of discussion were the data that already exists in the MAGIC transportation study done by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council in 2011, and the need to invite elected officials into the process to educate them about the importance of transportation.

RIDE contract renewed

While news media attention has focused on the MBTA commuter rail contract, MBTA's RIDE contracts were also recently up for bid. THE RIDE program provides door-to-door ADA paratransit service in 60 cities and towns in and around Boston and is available to eligible people who cannot use the fixed route system (bus, train, or trolley) due to a disability.


Eleven different bids were received from five different bidders. After close scrutiny of the submitted proposals, the MBTA awarded RIDE contracts to the three incumbent bidders: Greater Lynn Senior Services for the North service area, Veterans Transportation for the West service area, and National Express (formerly Joint Venture) for the South service area. All three companies provide transport within the core area, which will be expanded to include Brookline, Cambridge, and Somerville, as well as Boston. Officials expect this expansion of the core to greatly reduce transfers. Additionally, Wilmington - once part of the West service area - is now in the North service area for easier access without transfers to Lahey Clinic. The new RIDE service contracts go into effect July 1, 2014 and run through June 30, 2019 with possible two-year extensions.

RCC participants and others gather in Natick for statewide transportation coordination meeting

On April 17, nearly 70 members of Regional Coordinating Councils (RCCs), Statewide Coordinating Council on Community Transportation members, and others involved in community transportation and coordination efforts gathered at the Natick Council on Aging for a day of presentations, workshops, and networking. A representative from each RCC shared updates on the group's progress to date.


Heather Wheeler, Executive Director of the Community Transportation Association of Idaho (CTAI), gave a keynote presentation on Idaho's innovative approach to community transportation coordination and mobility management. For example, the state is divided into six districts, each of which has a mobility manager who helps develop regional partnerships among stakeholders and works with local players to implement solutions to local challenges. In addition, CTAI runs the Elected Officials on the Move program to introduce leaders to transportation options in their communities, which helps build support for these services.


In the afternoon, attendees split into three groups and heard a presentation on READYBUS and commingling seniors and people with disabilities together with employment transportation customers, Ride Match and how GATRA is analyzing the data from trip searches to identify unmet needs, and a brainstorming session on strategies for publicity and marketing. The group reconvened at the end of the day for a presentation from Stacy Hart at the New England ADA Center on accessibility and including people with disabilities in our transportation work.


If you would like more information on these sessions, please contact us. In addition to the scheduled presentations, attendees networked with each other, met new peers, and caught up with colleagues from other regions throughout the day.

Local travel trainers attend national conference in Pittsburgh

Travel trainers and mobility managers from Ways2Go, the MBTA, and GATRA attended the Consortium for the Educational Advancement of Travel Instruction (CEATI) conference in Pittsburgh April 4 and 5 along with travel trainers and Orientation and Mobility Specialists from across the country. Travel instruction is the professional activity of teaching individuals with disabilities, seniors, and others how to use public transportation independently to access their environment and community.


CEATI supports and promotes professional development opportunities for travel trainers. The conference included presentations on incorporating knowledge about how the brain works into travel training pedagogy, travel training for consumers who are deaf or hard of hearing, safe street crossing, and more. The conference ended with a session on the future of travel instruction. "It was a very rich conference with a lot of practical information for travel trainers" remarked Larry Haile, System-Wide Accessibility Coordinator for the MBTA.

MBTA pilots late-night service

On March 28, subways and 15 bus routes ran into the wee hours as the first day of a year-long pilot of late-night service on Friday and Saturday nights. Over 18,000 riders took advantage of the extended service on the first weekend, as reported in the Boston Globe. To help pay for the pilot, the MBTA is recruiting corporate sponsors, and one organization also launched a crowdsourcing campaign to raise money from individuals through donations.

TransportationCamp comes to Cambridge

On April 5, transportation professionals, students, and others interested in transportation came together at MIT for the first TransportationCamp "unconference" held in the Boston area. In an unconference, attendees create the agenda and facilitate the workshops, many of which are interactive and oriented towards group discussion or brainstorming. Workshops covered a range of topics including equity, cost, bicycle and pedestrian solutions, automatic vehicle locators, and how transit agencies can use web-based feedback. Reed Cochran of SCM Transportation and Bill Schwartz of the Collaborative co-facilitated a lively discussion on the "silver tsunami": the aging Baby Boomers and the challenges in providing demand-response transportation to seniors who prefer to age in place.

Bay State Bike Week approaches

Bay State Bike Week is coming up from May 10 to 18, with events planned around the state. This research brief from the National Center on Senior Transportation reminds us that bicycling can be a good transportation option for seniors, as well as for younger people.


Learn about additional upcoming events from our calendar.

From the desk of the Statewide Mobility Manager 

Aniko Laszlo, Statewide Mobility Manager at MassDOT, blogs monthly on topics related to community transportation in Massachusetts. Check out her current posting and archives to learn about ongoing efforts around the state.

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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

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.

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