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In This Issue
Welcome
Pittsfield hosts first forum for volunteer driver programs
Regional coordinating councils enhance mobility
MBTA staff present at national travel instruction conference
Boston MPO hosts community transportation panel
Job posting for travel trainer
Clean Air Challenge
White Cane Awareness Month
MassMobility website news
Coming up in October
Statewide meeting becomes annual
From the desk of the Statewide Mobility Manager
Follow us on Twitter
We want to know your stories
Quick Links
Join Our Mailing List


Happy autumn!

 

This September 2014 issue of the MassMobility newsletter contains news about community transportation, human service transportation coordination, and 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 MassMobility initiative.

 

This month, we share updates on volunteer driver programs, regional coordination efforts, travel instruction, and more. Read below for a job posting from WRTA and guest articles from MassRIDES and MCB.

Pittsfield hosts first forum for volunteer driver programs

Stakeholders from all over Berkshire County gathered in Pittsfield on September 18 for the first MassMobility forum on volunteer driver programs. The Adams Council on Aging and Elder Services of Berkshire County cosponsored the forum. Volunteer driver programs are an important part of the transportation landscape, particularly in rural areas with little or no public transit. In areas with a lot of transit, they help fill gaps for people who need door-to-door transportation.

 

At the forum, MassMobility staff presented information on different approaches to structuring a volunteer driver program. Participants shared information about the programs they are running as well as experiences with recruiting, screening, and training volunteers. Lynn Penna of Elder Services of Berkshire County discussed her organization's successful use of billboards to recruit new volunteers.

 

MassMobility staff also presented information about risk, liability, and insurance options. The group discussed the wisdom of purchasing volunteer-specific insurance, whether to have a protocol for reporting incidents that may happen while volunteering, and risk management strategies such as requiring proof of insurance from volunteers.

 

The forum brought together both practitioners and people interested in learning more about volunteer driver programs. Additional forums will be held in different regions around the Commonwealth. If you are interested in hosting or attending a volunteer driver forum, please contact theadora.fisher@state.ma.us. For more information about volunteer driver programs, please visit our webpage on volunteer driver programs.

Regional Coordinating Councils work to enhance mobility

Regional Coordinating Councils (RCCs) have formed in most parts of Massachusetts as an opportunity to work on improving mobility options for seniors, people with disabilities, low-income commuters, veterans, and others who lack access to transportation. Councils are locally-led and determine their own priorities.

 

Council activities in the late summer and early fall include:

  • The Greater Franklin County RCC disseminated a survey to compile information about transportation services available in the region. Please share this survey with any organizations that offer transportation in the Franklin County area.
  • The Berkshire County RCC is updating their Ride Guide, which lists transportation services in the region, and discussed the most useful format for the guide to make it easy for riders and the organizations that serve them to use.
  • The Central Massachusetts RCC discussed the use of technology in transportation and whether services like Uber or Bridj could help increase mobility for people with disabilities, seniors, and low-income commuters.
  • The South East RCC worked on planning a forum on medical transportation. They are inviting representatives of area medical facilities and healthcare practitioners to convene with transportation providers and human service agency staff to discuss needs and opportunities for coordination.
  • The Pioneer Valley RCC heard presentations on rebuilding I-91 from MassDOT and on service expansions from Mary MacInnes, PVTA Administrator. They also reviewed results of their needs assessment survey.
  • The North Central RCC compiled existing surveys that discuss transportation needs - such as health assessments and studies of the needs of area seniors - and began to analyze them.
  • The Southcoast RCC held its second meeting and welcomed many new stakeholders, who brainstormed creative strategies for increasing awareness of existing transportation options, such as the Boston Hospital shuttle and expanded SRTA bus services.

Contact us to get involved in your local RCC. You can read more about what RCCs are up to on our RCC accomplishments webpage, or get contact information from MassDOT's RCC webpage.

MBTA staff present on professional collaboration at national travel instruction conference

Larry Haile, System-Wide Accessibility Coordinator at the MBTA, presented on August 19 at the Association of Travel Instruction's annual conference in Portland, Oregon. Haile co-presented with Marshall Burns, Mobility Coordinator at the Corpus Christie Regional Transit Authority, on a presentation titled "Travel Trainers + COMS = High Quality Travel Instruction." The presenters each have personal as well as professional ties to the topic, as Haile is visually impaired and Burns is blind.

 

COMS are Certified Orientation & Mobility Specialists. They teach individuals with low vision or blindness a wide range of skills related to how to travel safely, including how to know where you are, walk without tripping or falling, safely cross streets, and use transit. Travel trainers provide individuals with various disabilities - as well as older adults - instruction on travel skills directly related to using public transit. COMS may work long term with an individual, while travel trainers work with an individual on a temporary basis.

 

The presentation highlighted the value that collaboration between COMS and travel trainers has for the COMS, the travel trainer, and the consumer. COMS and travel trainers can collaborate to ensure that consumers receive appropriate referrals, and can also teach each other skills and knowledge.

 

The Massachusetts Travel Instruction Network will explore collaboration with COMS as the topic for their next meeting. The network is open to anyone who provides travel training in Massachusetts or who is working on starting a travel training program. To learn more, please contact us.

Boston MPO hosts community transportation panel

The Regional Transportation Advisory Council (RTAC) to the Boston MPO meets monthly and regularly hosts speakers to present on topics related to transportation. For the September meeting, RTAC invited five panelists to present on issues in community transportation. Each panelist presented on one piece of the community transportation network and opportunities for that sector to expand mobility.

  • Public transit - Heather M. Hume, Manager of Paratransit Programs with the MBTA and MassDOT, discussed some new projects that the T is implementing to augment their paratransit services, including piloting a taxi subsidy program and partnering with nonprofits to provide limited free rides to low-income consumers. 
  • Mobility management - Theadora Fisher, Mobility Outreach Coordinator at MassMobility, discussed how coordination of transportation efforts can expand mobility and invited attendees to get involved through Regional Coordinating Councils and other opportunities.
  • Senior transport - Sue Temper, Assistant Secretary for the Executive Office of Elder Affairs, discussed the transportation that Councils on Aging are providing in communities across Massachusetts and called for better collaboration among senior transportation providers. 
  • Employers and TMAs - Monica Tibbitts-Nutt, Executive Director of the 128 Business Council, described how Transportation Management Associations (TMAs) work. The 128 Business Council addresses congestion on Route 128 by partnering with businesses and communities to provide transportation alternatives to driving alone.
  • Municipalities - Mike Gowing, Selectman from Acton, discussed the town of Acton's work identifying transportation as a health issue. Acton implemented a rail shuttle to get people to and from the commuter rail station and has expanded their transportation efforts into a regional, municipally-led TMA called CrossTown Connect.

Thanks to the Boston MPO for highlighting these important issues. If you would like to get involved in community transportation efforts in your area, check out our information on coordination efforts or contact us.

WRTA seeks travel trainer

WRTA has posted a job opportunity for a travel trainer. Download the job description and application directions at www.therta.com/about/careers.

Shift your mode this week with the Massachusetts Clean Air Challenge

MassMobility thanks Becca Cyr of MassRIDES for submitting this guest article. If you would like to submit an article or suggest a topic, we welcome your ideas.

 

Massachusetts travelers strive to improve air quality by choosing more sustainable transportation options during the Massachusetts Clean Air Challenge (formerly Car-Free Week). This year, Massachusetts challenges you to explore your commuting options and "Shift Your Mode" from September 22-26. By trying greener modes including carpooling, vanpooling, bicycling, walking, and riding transit, participants are part of a collective effort to reduce the number of cars on the road, which reduces harmful emissions and improves the air in Massachusetts.

 

Participating in the Clean Air Challenge is free and easy! Shift your mode and try traveling by foot, bicycle, carpool, vanpool, or transit as many trips as you can during September 22-26. To track your trips, register in NuRide, the Commonwealth's ridematching and commuter rewards program and use this system to track your green trips.

 

During the Clean Air Challenge, participants can win prizes for contributing to cleaner air. Track your trips in NuRide, and you will be eligible for daily and grand prizes. Each day during the Clean Air Challenge, we will also post our "Mode of the Day" on Facebook and Twitter. Participants will have 24 hours to post a picture of themselves traveling by that mode for a chance to win $25 and a commuting prize pack. Winners will be announced on Facebook and Twitter using hashtag  #CleanAir.

 

Continue to use NuRide all year long to track your green trips, and continue to earn rewards. Visit us online at www.commute.com to learn more!

Massachusetts prepares to celebrate White Cane Awareness Month

MassMobility thanks Meg Robertson, Director of the Orientation & Mobility Department at the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind, for submitting this guest article. If you would like to submit an article or have an idea for a topic, please contact us.

 

October is White Cane Awareness Month. The white cane is a symbol of independence for individuals with blindness.  The white cane allows a legally blind individual to travel independently. 

 

All states and many other counties have White Cane laws, which allow pedestrians who are legally blind the right of way at street crossings. Massachusetts White Cane Law states that all motorists must come to a complete stop when they see a pedestrian who uses a dog guide or white cane at a street crossing. White Cane Awareness Month seeks to promote better understanding of what a white cane means and how pedestrians and motorists can assist cane users and dog guide users at street crossings.

 

The Massachusetts Commission for the Blind (MCB) invites white cane and guide dog users and their family, friends, Orientation & Mobility Specialists, vision professionals, and others to join us in Boston at the State House, Great Hall of Flags, from 10 to noon on October 8 for a celebration of White Cane Awareness Month.

 

For more information on White Cane Awareness Month or for white cane training, contact the Orientation & Mobility Department at the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind at (800) 392-6450(V/TTY) x7581.

MassMobility website features resources and profiles

Visit www.mass.gov/hst for information on community transportation strategies, tools, and best practices. We have recently reorganized our website to make resources easier to find, updated many of our webpages, and added more examples and profiles of successful programs that are helping increase mobility in Massachusetts.

 

For example, visit our new "find a ride" page for information about transportation services and options, learn about opportunities for consumers and riders to get involved in transportation planning efforts, read about how transportation providers and employers are participating in community transportation efforts, or check out our site map to find information on specific topics.

 

Want information on something we don't have on our website, or have a recommendation for a program to feature? Contact us with your suggestions.

Coming up in October

From October 8 to 10, Council on Aging staff are gathering on the Cape for the annual Massachusetts Association of Councils on Aging (MCOA) Conference. MassMobility is presenting two workshops on transportation. In the morning, we will discuss Regional Coordinating Councils (RCCs) and opportunities for COAs to coordinate transportation, along with Erica Girgenti, Director of the Adams COA and Co-Chair of the Berkshire County RCC. In the afternoon, we will present on senior transportation and alternatives to driving, in conjunction with Michele Ellicks of the Registry of Motor Vehicles. Hope to see you there!

 

From October 21 to 23, the Kennedy Center will provide a workshop for travel trainers. Thanks to MassDOT for providing this great opportunity. This workshop is full, but another is being planned for December. Contact us to learn more.

 

On October 24, the Statewide Coordinating Council on Community Transportation will hold its quarterly meeting.


For details and more upcoming events, 
check out our calendar.

Statewide meeting changes to annual schedule 

Since 2009, people involved in community transportation coordination in Massachusetts have convened twice a year to network with peers around the state, discuss key issues, and hear presentations on successful strategies. We are switching to an annual schedule, so we will not be hosting a statewide meeting this fall. Stay tuned for a spring date!

From the desk of the Statewide Mobility Manager 

Aniko Laszlo, Statewide Mobility Manager at MassDOT, writes a blog on community transportation in Massachusetts. Check out Aniko's current posting and archives to learn about ongoing efforts around the state.

Follow us on Twitter 

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 twitter.com/MassMobility.

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

We'd love it if you would forward this newsletter 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.