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This September issue of MassMobility highlights the activities undertaken by Regional Coordinating Councils over the summer. Councils have been busy planning public events, hosting presentations on mobility services, and exploring opportunities to implement best practices - all toward the goal of improving mobility and access in their regions.

In addition, read on to learn how college students in Worcester are encouraging their peers to ride transit, as well as other news about community transportation, human service transportation coordination, and mobility management in Massachusetts.

This newsletter is compiled by the MassMobility team, an initiative of the 
Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services in partnership with MassDOT.
Regional Coordinating Councils take steps to improve mobility and access
Regional Coordinating Councils (RCCs) bring human service agency staff, transportation providers, advocates, and consumers together to collaborate on gaps in regional transportation networks. Each RCC is locally-led and reflects regional priorities.

Throughout the summer, RCCs around the Massachusetts were busy organizing events, educating themselves about local services, and exploring new opportunities to improve mobility:

Organizing Events
  • The Berkshire County RCC organized the Berkshire County Clean Air Challenge, in conjunction with MassDOT's statewide Clean Air Challenge September 20 through 27. Events included free fares on senior transportation in South County, a biking event in North County, and a gentle hike. The RCC launched the challenge at Pittsfield's monthly Third Thursday celebration on September 17, collecting pledges from passers-by for how they planned to participate in the Clean Air Challenge. The Berkshire Regional Transit Authority partnered with the RCC and sent their Charlie Card Information Bus and staff to give out Charlie Cards and bus schedules. Berkshire Interfaith Organizing also organized Ride the Bus Day on September 22, for which local elected officials pledged to ride transit and share their experiences on social media.
  • The North Central RCC organized local stakeholders to participate in a workshop on travel training September 16 through 18. The Kennedy Center provided the training, with funding from MassDOT. Attendees represented transit authorities, human service agencies, and educators.
  • The North Shore RCC hosted a forum on September 23 with opening remarks from Astrid Glynn, Rail and Transit Administrator at MassDOT. Each RCC subcommittee presented on the work they have done over the past year in four areas: employment transportation in Saugus, integrating falls prevention into mobility management, older driver discernment and safety, and creating a resource to help people find transportation options.
Learning about Local Services and Initiatives
Exploring New Models and Opportunities
  • The Hilltowns RCC heard a presentation on the READYBUS employment transportation service that is an offshoot of a transportation service for seniors and people with disabilities.
  • The Boston North RCC discussed the results of their needs assessment survey and decided to compile an inventory of local transportation services. They also identified healthcare, opioid crisis, and community college transportation issues as areas of potential future interest.
  • The Minuteman RCC met to explore options for increasing accessible taxi or livery service in the region.
  • The South East RCC on Transportation convened stakeholders in Wareham to discuss opportunities for local coordination.
Visit our webpage on RCC projects and accomplishments to learn more, or contact us to connect with your local RCC.
College students encourage peers to ride the bus in Worcester
Two Clark University seniors spent the summer identifying opportunities to increase students' use of public transit in Worcester. Alaina Yonkers  and Jarrett Taxman started with a goal of helping students at Clark connect with students from Worcester's other colleges and decided that easier, cheaper transportation options would facilitate access to the other campuses. Three Worcester Regional Transit Authority (WRTA) bus routes serve Clark's campus, yet few students use the service, opting instead to take a cab or find a friend with a car. Yonkers explained that during her first few years at Clark, she would pay $7 for a cab each time she needed to get to Union Station - even though the bus goes directly there for only $1.50.
Yonkers and Taxman received Liberal Education and Effective Practice fellowships and used the stipend to live in Worcester over the summer. At first, they thought they would work with the WRTA to create a new bus route serving the colleges, but soon learned that WRTA was about to launch the Line 10 to do just that. So instead, Yonkers and Taxman focused on how to increase student usage of existing WRTA bus routes.
They created a brochure called "Bursting the Clark Bubble" that explains how to ride the bus, lists restaurants, malls, and other destinations that are accessible by bus, and assures students that the buses are clean and safe. They also created the Worcester College Connection facebook group for students at any Worcester college, with posts about how to ride WRTA buses between colleges and to museums and festivals.
Yonkers and Taxman also met with members of the Clark administration to discuss how to institutionalize transit into university life. As a result, freshman orientation now includes some information on the WRTA system, and Yonkers and Taxman are hoping to plan some transit field trips for this school year.
"Making it easier to get off campus will be better for college culture," said Taxman. "The system is clean, air-conditioned, and convenient, and the buses are really nice."
"Feeling comfortable with transit is an incentive to stay in Worcester after college, and it makes the four years of college more enjoyable," added Yonkers. 
CrossTown Connect towns sign Community Compact
On September 3, Acton, Boxborough, Littleton, Maynard, and Westford signed a Community Compact agreement with Lieutenant Governor Karen Polito. The towns committed to implement a transportation best practice by continuing to partner on the CrossTown Connect regional Transportation Management Association (TMA). This TMA works on expanding transportation opportunities that promote economic development.

The Community Compact is an initiative of Governor Baker to encourage cities and towns across the Commonwealth to adopt promising practices in different aspects of municipal and regional government. Focus areas include education, regionalization, financial management, energy and environment, and transportation and citizens safety. The Governor has pledged to solidify local aid processes, make technical assistance available, and generally support municipalities that sign Compacts.

Although a community compact can include more than one best practice, each city or town may only sign one community compact at this time.
NuRide adds ASL to language list thanks to Boston North RCC

In May, MassRIDES staff presented on NuRide at the Boston North RCC meeting. NuRide is an online database that allows users to search for carpool companions. In their profile, users can list languages they speak. During the meeting, one RCC member suggested that NuRide should add American Sign Language (ASL) as an option. MassRIDES staff brought this recommendation back to NuRide, which implemented it in August.

Boston MPO invites municipalities to request help with first or last mile
The Boston MPO invites cities and towns in their service area to submit an application for planning support on first or last mile transportation issues. Applications are due October 16.
Congratulations to Heather Hume
Congratulations to Heather Hume of the MBTA for being named to Mass Transit's 40 under 40 for 2015. Hume has supported community transportation and mobility management in many roles, including serving as Project Coordinator for the Executive Order 530 report and Manager of Paratransit Programs for the MBTA.
Surgeon General links walkable communities to health
On September 9, the Surgeon General launched a call to action for Americans to walk more, and for all stakeholders to promote walking - including through community design.
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