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This October issue of MassMobility highlights recent developments in how planners, community organizations, senior service agencies, and other stakeholders are working to improve mobility around Massachusetts.

Read on to learn about incorporating bus access into road construction projects, helping individuals save for a reliable car, and preparing caregivers to support seniors who are retiring from driving, 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.
Central Mass planners incorporate bus access into roadway redesign
When the not quite three quarters of a mile stretch where Routes 12 and 20 overlap in Auburn came up for redesign last year, the transit staff at the Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission (CMRPC) saw an opportunity. The busy road had no safe place for a bus to pull over, so although two Worcester Regional Transit Authority (WRTA) bus routes already drove along the stretch, riders did not have easy access to the many restaurants and stores located there.
The company doing the redesign, VHB, has an office next door to CMRPC in Worcester. CMRPC staff walked next door and made the case that adding space for the bus to pull over would align with MassDOT's complete streets principles, ensure that more pedestrians used the sidewalks that VHB was already planning to add, and increase access to the area for everyone - especially people with disabilities. VHB was open to the idea and worked with CMRPC to plan bus pullouts as part of the redesign.
WRTA buses will begin using the pullouts when the construction is complete in November 2015. Furthermore, VHB staff from all offices now consult with CMRPC anytime they work on a road where a WRTA bus runs. "Before this, we never worked directly with a design/engineering firm," explains Jonathan Church, Transportation Project Manager at CMRPC, "but this has been a very effective collaboration that has increased access to this area and these stores for everyone. It's a model that all Regional Planning Agencies can incorporate as part of complete streets."
CDC helps individuals save toward a reliable car
In Ware, lack of transportation options restricts residents' access to jobs and education - contributing to a cycle of poverty. To address this, the Quaboag Valley Community Development Corporation (QVCDC) has launched a pilot program to help individuals save up to buy a reliable car.
QVCDC's mission is to increase regional economic development by supporting small business development and improving individuals' economic self-sufficiency. Recognizing that small investments can have a huge impact on constituents, QVCDC decided to pilot a matched savings program to help people who live, work, or own a small business in Ware save towards assets. QVCDC fundraised from local donors and then partnered with the Midas Collaborative and the Monson Savings Bank on a program based on the Individual Development Accounts model.
In April, they launched the Harrison and Diane Quirk Financial Fitness Club and enrolled participants who agreed to save toward a vehicle or other eligible asset. By making regular deposits and attending monthly financial education classes, participants qualify for matching funds that double the impact of their savings. Midas also provides participants with individual coaching from certified financial coaches. When barriers arise, QVCDC staff members help participants address them. The group has also bonded, supporting each other - and helping hold each other accountable to their personal goals.
Of the program's four active participants, two are saving up for cars: one for a first vehicle, and the other to replace an unreliable car. QVCDC recommends that participants look at efficient cars that will keep gas costs low. Other participants are saving for first month, last month, and security deposit to rent an apartment and for a small business investment such as technology or equipment. Participants have already seen their credit scores rise and are on track to meet their savings goals when the one-year pilot ends in March 2016.
Maps in the mail promote mode shift in Franklin County
As part of a mode shift effort to encourage residents of Franklin County to drive less and walk, bike, and take transit more, the Franklin Regional Council of Governments (FRCOG) designed maps featuring sidewalks, bike paths and bikeways, and bus routes in three higher-density parts of the county. The maps identify key destinations such as schools, parks, and medical offices that residents can get to by walking, biking, or taking the bus, and also include tips, safety information, and additional resources for getting around without a car. FRCOG worked closely with the Franklin Regional Transit Authority to ensure that the information was accurate.

To distribute the maps, FRCOG partnered with a local direct mail company, identified the postal routes that best overlapped with the amenities featured on the maps, and mailed the maps directly to households near the walking, biking, and transit routes. A map of the Greenfield and Turners Falls region went out earlier this summer, while maps of Orange and Shelburne Falls went out last month.
Agencies support caregivers in "having the conversation" about older adults and driving safety

With aging baby boomers and the increasing proportion of women driving, the number of older adults on the road continues to rise. Although skills and ability - not age - determine our capacity to drive, older adults tend to outlive their ability to drive due to age-related declines such as arthritis or reduced vision, hearing, or cognitive abilities. Men can expect to outlive driving by six years, and women by about ten. In our society, driving is viewed as a right of passage and a key to independence, and thus discussing retirement from driving with an older adult can be difficult.

On September 19, Central Massachusetts Agency on Aging, Elder Services of Worcester, and the Worcester Senior Center sponsored a free seminar for caregivers on just this topic. Five speakers discussed resources available to help caregivers with this conversation:
  • Liz Miner from Fairlawn Rehabilitation Hospital discussed the driving assessment that is offered by the hospital. The assessment is done by a licensed occupational therapist who specializes in driving safety. Individuals receive their results at the end of the assessment and learn if they are still safe to drive, need some improvements, or should no longer be on the road.
  • Tim Cooney from Central Massachusetts Safety Council and Driving School described the on-road driving assessment that the Council offers for individuals.
  • Ed O'Connor from AARP discussed AARP's Driving Safety Course and how individuals can self-assess their driving ability.
  • Anna Kosterski from the Worcester Regional Transit Authority (WRTA)'s Paratransit Brokerage Service discussed how transit services - including the WRTA fixed route bus system and ADA paratransit services - can be an alternative to driving.
  • Diane Tonelli, a CarFit volunteer, described CarFit, a great resource for individuals who are still driving and want to be sure they are properly "fitting" their vehicle. This includes a check of mirror placement, seat belt placement, and the distance between the driver and the steering wheel.
Caregivers left the seminar with an increased knowledge of the supports and programs available to them to facilitate the conversation to retire driving, as well as alternative transportation options in the region.
Councils on Aging discuss coordination
MassMobility partnered with MassDOT's Community Transit Grant Program staff on October 9 on a half-day workshop at the annual Massachusetts Association of Councils on Aging Conference. MassDOT presented on the Community Transit Grant Program, emphasizing that coordination across town lines can make an application more competitive - important in an environment where funding has remained level while the number of applications has risen.

MassMobility staff then presented on strategies for implementing coordination, sharing examples from across Massachusetts. Pamela Campbell, Director of the Littleton Council on Aging (COA), presented on her experience participating in joint dispatch through CrossTown Connect, and MassMobility staff highlighted other examples of COAs partnering with other municipal departments, local nonprofits, and Regional Transit Authorities. Attendees then broke into small groups representing Western, Central, North Shore, and Southeastern regions to brainstorm how to bring coordination to their areas.

For more information on coordination strategies, or for help implementing coordination in your region, please contact us.
MWRTA hospital shuttle expands service
In September, the MetroWest Regional Transit Authority (MWRTA) expanded its Boston Hospital Shuttle schedule from two days to three per week. Riders can now use the shuttle to get to medical appointments on Wednesdays, as well as on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

In addition, the shuttle now picks riders up at their homes. Previously, the shuttle picked riders up only at the MWRTA Hub and the Natick VFW. MWRTA hopes the change will be more convenient for riders, ultimately leading to increased ridership.
CrossTown Connect wins international award

On September 30, the communities of CrossTown Connect (Acton, Boxborough, Littleton, Maynard and Westford) received the Community Partnership Award in the population category of 10,000 to 49,999 from the International City/County Management Association at their annual convention in Seattle. The Community Partnership Awards recognize programs or processes that demonstrate innovation, excellence, and success in multi-participant involvement between or among a local government and other governmental entities, private sector businesses, individuals, or nonprofit agencies to improve the quality of life for residents or to provide more efficient and effective services. CrossTown Connect received the award in recognition of the group's success in launching a public/private Transportation Management Association and addressing the transportation needs for commuters, reverse commuters, seniors, people with disabilities, and the general public.
New reports and resources
Several local, regional, and federal organizations have recently published reports related to community transportation.

What are you reading? Let us know, and we'll publish it next month!

The Go Boston 2030 effort released a draft report with data on the current state of transportation in Boston and public input from a citywide visioning process.

An October 8 event featured two new reports on Transportation Management Associations (TMAs), one from MAPC and another from MassCommute. Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll offered opening remarks, and a panel discussed the role that TMAs are playing in reducing congestion in Lexington and Cambridge.

The National Rural Transit Assistance Program released a marketing toolkit.
Coming up in November
Volunteer driver programs can nominate themselves for a STAR Award through November 1. Prizes include cash or a Prius.

MassDOT's annual Moving Together conference on biking, walking, and public transit is coming up on November 4. This year's theme is "Healthy Transportation, Healthy Communities."

MassDOT hosts Capital Conversations at locations around Massachusetts and by email through November 5. Share your ideas about what MassDOT and the MBTA should prioritize over the next five years.

For more upcoming events, visit our calendar.
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