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Happy Thanksgiving!

This season, we would like to thank all the mobility managers who are helping people arrange their trips and participate in community life around Massachusetts.

This November issue of MassMobility covers news about community transportation, human service transportation coordination, and mobility management in Massachusetts. Read on to learn about how a taxi pilot for the MBTA's RIDE service seeks to improve service while reducing costs, how collaboration between transit authorities is facilitating access to college for students with disabilities, and more.

This newsletter is compiled by the MassMobility team, an initiative of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services in partnership with MassDOT.
THE RIDE launches taxi pilot to improve service and reduce costs
On November 9, Rick Morin, treasurer of the Bay State Council for the Blind, took a taxi from his home in Waltham to an MBTA bus stop - the first ride in a six-month MBTA pilot program for customers of THE RIDE. The pilot offers RIDE customers more flexibility and cheaper fares if they take a taxi instead of using THE RIDE, while also reducing costs for the MBTA and offering a new source of ridership to participating taxi companies.
Earlier this year, the MBTA reached out to all subscription customers of THE RIDE by mail and offered them the chance to enroll. All 124 customers who signed up were enrolled in the pilot and received a program-specific debit card that they can use with participating taxi companies.
Participants are allowed up to 10 taxi trips each week through the pilot program. For each trip, the participant pays $2 - a discount compared to the $3 fare they would pay on THE RIDE - and the MBTA pays an additional $13. If the taxi ride costs more than $15, the rider is responsible for making up the difference.  In addition to the cheaper fare, the pilot also offers increased flexibility, as participants do not have to reserve their trip 24 hours in advance as they do on THE RIDE.
The MBTA is exploring ways to sustain and expand the program beyond the six month pilot.
Transit authorities partner to get students with disabilities to college

Based at Cape Cod Community College, Project Forward is a nationally recognized program offering vocational training in a range of fields to students with significant learning difficulties. Last year, two students in Wareham were accepted, but had no transportation to get to the program - and one of the students needed to ride in a wheelchair-accessible vehicle.
The students' families contacted us at the Greater Attleboro Taunton Regional Transit Authority (GATRA), the transit authority serving Wareham. We determined that the students were eligible for dial-a-ride, but to get to their classes, students would need to cross into the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority (CCRTA)'s service area. So, we worked with CCRTA to create a transfer spot.
The students ride GATRA from Wareham across the Bourne Bridge and then transfer to a CCRTA dial-a-ride vehicle. By working together, CCRTA and GATRA enabled these students to attend the program and access learning opportunities.
Travel trainers collaborate to develop recommended performance measures
At MassDOT's request, the Massachusetts Travel Instruction Network collaborated to develop a set of recommended performance measures for travel instruction programs in Massachusetts to track and report on. 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. The network is open to travel trainers and anyone looking to develop a travel instruction program in Massachusetts.
The network met in person in July to hear presentations on how programs are currently measuring their performance and to discuss the benefits and disadvantages of different approaches. Members who were particularly interested in the topic formed a subgroup to develop a set of recommended measures and delivered these to MassDOT in October.
To receive a copy of the recommended performance measures or learn more about the network, please contact us.
SERCCOT gathers stakeholders around employment and education transportation

Identifying service gaps and barriers is a first and integral step in building and sustaining a usable and cohesive transportation system. Members of the South East Regional Coordinating Council on Transportation (SERCCOT) are working hard to do just that, as well as to create and facilitate out-of-the-box solutions to local transportation issues. SERCCOT is comprised of regional transit authorities and planning agencies, community and social service agencies and advocates representing elders, education, labor and independent living, as well as private transportation providers.
On November 13, SERCCOT hosted a forum to identify service gaps and barriers for one of the greatest transportation needs - getting residents to work or school. The forum, entitled "Ways to Work and School," was held at the UMass Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Fall River. Over 50 attendees participated, the majority being front line staff working directly with clients and residents in their areas. Massachusetts State Senator Michael Rodrigues opened the forum by welcoming the participants to Fall River and stating unequivocally that "the legislature spends a lot of time talking about transportation because transportation is integral to everything we do."
The purpose of the forum was to have attendees work through a set of real-life scenarios of people trying to get to work and school in order to come up with potential solutions. Using the World Cafe model, attendees worked in small groups to discuss current and potential transportation options to address the barriers presented in each scenario. No idea was too big or small, and suggestions ranged from finding carpools through MassRIDES, finding services through Ride Match, developing public-private partnerships between transit authorities and employers and among neighboring employers, improving infrastructure and safety for low-income workers who bike to work when transit is not available, and facilitating car ownership for individuals who are able to drive but cannot afford a car.
The ideas and solutions identified at the forum will become projects and initiatives moving forward so SERCCOT can foster relationships, bridge gaps, and help to strengthen our transportation network, especially for those with the greatest need.
Transit authorities get in the holiday spirit
In early November, MetroWest Regional Transit Authority (MWRTA) continued its tradition of offering free fare to any rider on the fixed route bus in exchange for the donation of a non-perishable food item. MWRTA collected the canned goods and donated them to the local United Way. This year, MWRTA also collected non-perishable food items from riders on its demand-response service as part of the Food for Families initiative. Demand-response riders who donated received a drawstring bag. The Pioneer Valley Transit Authority also conducted a food drive in November.
To support local economic development, the Franklin Regional Transit Authority and the Greater Attleboro Taunton Regional Transit Authority offered shoppers - and all riders - free fares on "Black Friday," the Friday after Thanksgiving.
Seniors partner with Mass in Motion to promote walking in Fall River
Last year, the Fall River Mass in Motion initiative received a grant from the Massachusetts Association of Councils on Aging to hire WalkBoston to train local seniors to conduct walk audits. Mass in Motion recruited twenty "senior champions" who attended workshops to learn how to assess walking conditions near the city's senior centers.
The senior champions expressed an interest in not only identifying opportunities to improve walking in the city, but also in promoting safe and pleasant walking routes already in existence. In response, Mass in Motion took the senior champions on a trolley tour of walking paths and worked with the seniors to develop a series of maps highlighting the paths and listing bus routes that seniors can use to access them. The resulting Senior Walking Spotlight maps were first printed in late 2014. Since then, senior champions have helped distribute them to neighborhood associations, health facilities, and other popular destinations.
Recognizing that seniors walk not only recreationally but also as part of grocery shopping and other errands, Mass in Motion next worked with the senior champions to develop maps of walkable markets for three low-income neighborhoods. The Healthy Neighborhood Market maps were printed last month to help local seniors realize they have grocery shopping options in their own neighborhoods.
For more information, please visit or contact Eric Andrade, Health Promotion Coordinator at SSTAR.
Forums highlight community shuttles, healthy transportation, and employment transportation
On October 21, the Neponset Valley Regional Coordinating Council hosted a panel on community shuttles. Rich McCarthy, Planning Director of the Town of Dedham, presented on his efforts updating the town's shuttle service. He contracted with TransAction Associates and worked with them to devise a new route, which is currently being piloted. Scott Zadakis, Executive Director at CrossTown Connect, presented on the fixed route service that Acton is developing to complement the demand-response service already available in town. Attendees discussed potential funding sources and approaches for building community support.
Bicycle, pedestrian, and transit advocates and professionals gathered on November 4 at the annual Moving Together conference. This year's conference highlighted the role that transportation plays in creating healthy communities. At the conference, Secretary Pollack announced the release of MassDOT's guidance for separated bike lane planning and design, as well as a Complete Streets Funding Program.
Transportation for America, Transportation for Massachusetts, MassCommute, and the 495/MetroWest Partnership organized a forum on best practices in employment transportation on November 19. Speakers included a property owner and a municipal official discussing how they partnered to launch the REV shuttle in Lexington, presentations from employers including Google and E Ink, and a presentation from Lyft on the role their service can play in overcoming first and last mile gaps in a transportation network.
Community transportation in the news
A new report from the National Council on Disability discusses the potential for autonomous vehicles to improve mobility for people with disabilities, if the products and policies are designed to promote accessibility.

A report from the National Center for Transit Research discusses national data that would help determine level of service for demand-response transportation.

Although affluent, urban cyclists who choose to bike receive the most attention, many low-income people bike when they don't have other options for commuting.

Refugees ride the bus: travel instruction helps refugees learn to navigate their new life - in Worcester and Detroit.

National Walking Summit includes presentations on Massachusetts and accessibility

October 28-30 marked the second National Walking Summit, a conference dedicated to bringing together all stakeholders involved in fostering walkable environments that promote health, environmental sustainability, safety, and economic viability.

Massachusetts was represented among the presentations with a session on statewide partnerships for increasing pedestrian safety. Other presentations like "Creating Age-Friendly, Walkable Communities Isn't as Simple as One Foot in Front of the Other" and "Walking is for Everyone: Ensuring Access for All" highlighted the important role older adults and people with disabilities play in creating walkable communities. The latter session included an additional outing to audit the pedestrian environment around the conference for accessibility. Participants were able to learn first-hand the challenges faced by the disability community in being pedestrians.

The conference keynote was delivered by the U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, who highlighted the immense health benefits walking has for people of all ages and gave a call to action imploring participants to motivate their friends and family to walk more for their own health and the health of their communities. 
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