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Happy New Year!

This January issue of MassMobility covers news about community transportation, human service transportation coordination, and mobility management in Massachusetts. Read on to learn about available funding, how frontline travel trainers had a say in drafting state guidance, healthcare organizations from Berkshire County to Boston that are showing an interest in transportation, and more.

This newsletter is compiled by the MassMobility team, a joint initiative of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services and MassDOT. Above, we have added the MassDOT Rail & Transit logo to the newsletter to emphasize the joint nature of the mobility management work between EOHHS and MassDOT and the close working relationship between MassMobility and our colleagues at MassDOT Rail & Transit.

Do you have a resolution related to transportation coordination or mobility management for 2016? Please share it with us or tweet us @MassMobility.
Funding opportunities
Have an idea for how to improve mobility and access for seniors or people with disabilities? A number of grant opportunities are currently accepting applications:
MassDOT's Community Transit Grant Program provides federal and state funding for vehicles, mobility management, and operations. Applications are now open, due February 22.
If you're in a rural or small urban area, Helping Hand mini-grants of up to $1000 are available from MArtap. Applications are due February 2.
A new federal grant opportunity is available for projects seeking to incorporate active participation from seniors and people with disabilities in transportation planning. Applications are due March 18. Learn more on a webinar January 27.
Check out our calendar for key deadlines and our funding webpage for more ideas about how to fund your transportation projects.
MassDOT adopts recommendations from travel trainers
In January, MassDOT published Suggested Performance Measures for Travel Instruction Program Grantees, a list of metrics and performance measures that travel instruction programs can use to track their outcomes.
Last year, MassDOT approached MassMobility about the need for performance measures in travel instruction and asked MassMobility to discuss this topic with the Massachusetts Travel Instruction Network (MATIN). MATIN is an informal network open to staff from transit agencies, human service agencies, and schools that offer travel training or are setting up a program. In July 2015, the network discussed performance measures in an in-person meeting and formed a subcommittee to develop the recommendations. The subcommittee worked with MassMobility to develop a document with recommendations for MassDOT. MassDOT's recommended performance measures for grantees are based closely on the travel trainers' recommendations.
For more information about MATIN, please contact us.
Nantucket explores year-round service
The Nantucket Regional Transit Authority (NRTA) currently offers bus service May through October, but is exploring options for expanding fixed-route service year-round. NRTA received a planning grant from MassDOT and hired a consultant to help assess demand for winter service and develop recommended routes.

Public engagement began in early January with a survey to assess riders' interest in and need for year-round service. The survey was posted on NRTA's website. The NRTA Administrator also handed out surveys in person at the high school and grocery store, and local churches partnered to help reach the island's Latino community. By mid-January, NRTA had received over 1000 responses, comprising nearly 10 percent of the island's population.

NRTA, the Project Advisory Team, and consultants also held open-house style public input sessions at the Boys & Girls Club where riders and residents were able to share their ideas directly and participate in interactive mapping activities.

Over the next month, the consultants will analyze the survey results, develop service scenarios, and research funding opportunities. They will present their recommendations to the community in early March. "Wanting year-round service is the biggest feedback I always get," explains NRTA Administrator Paula Leary.  "There has been amazing community support for this, which is really exciting."
Hospital distributes transportation information in Southern Berkshire County
Fairview Hospital of Great Barrington funded the printing of 500 Transportation Guides listing transportation options in the Berkshires. The guides are available in doctors' offices, as well as in Town Halls and Councils on Aging around Southern Berkshire County. For the printing, the hospital used funds from an emergency preparedness grant from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
Originally compiled in 2008, the Transportation Guide was updated last year by members of the Berkshire County Regional Coordinating Council (RCC). The Berkshire Regional Planning Commission updates it on an ongoing basis as services change, and RCC members share the task of printing and distributing copies around Berkshire County.
RCC member and Egremont Council on Aging Director Bruce Bernstein discussed the matter with his board, and two board members agreed to help. As a result, Fairview Hospital underwrote the printing of 500 guides, and the local District Attorney's office offered to fund 500 more when the first printing runs out.
Boston health centers pursue health equity through transportation
With funding from the Boston Alliance for Community Health, the Southern Jamaica Plain and Codman Square Health Centers embarked on a racial justice initiative to address transportation barriers to health equity. To do so, they partnered with the Center for Community Health Education Research and Service, Inc. and with organizations already working on transit equity in Boston: On the Move and Alternatives for Community and Environment.
The health centers had been hearing about transportation issues from patients for a long time. In order to address racial and ethnic health disparities, the group decided to focus on a transit mode that is highly used by low-income people of color in Boston: the bus. They developed a survey and enlisted 11 health centers to collect responses from patients on how they get to medical appointments and any transportation barriers they experience. Over 1000 patients submitted responses.
Just under half of respondents reported relying on the bus to get to their appointments; two thirds take either the bus or the train. Nearly half reported missing an appointment in the last year due to transportation issues. Many respondents shared personal stories of challenges they have encountered. An analysis by race and ethnicity revealed that Black patients are 1.25 times more likely than white patients - and Latino patients 1.3 times more likely - to miss or be late to an appointment due to transit reasons.
These findings affirmed the health centers' sense that public transportation in Boston plays an important role in patients' health outcomes. The group conducted a roundtable to share the survey results and discuss how health centers can support efforts to improve transit. They identified actions that could have an impact without requiring large investments of time from health center staff, such as providing letters of support to transit equity campaigns run by other organizations and submitting feedback to the MBTA on proposed route changes that would affect bus stops near the health centers.
Reflecting on the effort, Southern Jamaica Plain Health Center Manager Cecilia Flores recommends that healthcare organizations interested in addressing transportation barriers "listen to patients and get in touch with the organizations that already have a deep understanding of transportation issues so that you align your efforts and don't contradict. Then find small actions you can take that don't require a lot of people power but can help effect institutional change."
Public process for transportation plan listens to new voices 

Through three cycles of public engagement, Go Boston 2030 has made every effort to reach people who aren't normally involved in transportation planning. The citywide mobility plan has so far collected questions about how people want to get around in the future, gathered input on the vision and goals of the plan, and solicited project and policy ideas.

By using mobile pop-ups (a truck in winter and a bike trailer in the fall), the planners met people on the street in neighborhoods across the city. While talking to people on the sidewalk, they were able to collect input from people who said they had never contributed to a transportation planning process. These new participants included children, immigrants, and homeless people.

One homeless man found it hard to believe that he could contribute an idea without an address. He then shared ideas about improving bus service and street lighting.

A Visioning Lab held downtown also invited passersby to contribute feedback on what safe, accessible, and reliable transportation looked like. Dancers on the street attracted foot traffic while the brightly colored materials and bold images encouraged people to write on the walls and vote on ideas they liked most.
Transit pre-tax benefit increases
Thanks to a new law passed by Congress and signed by President Obama, commuters who ride transit or participate in vanpools to get to work can now qualify for the same pre-tax benefit as commuters who drive. Previously, drivers could receive $250 per month in pre-tax benefits, while transit riders could only receive $130. The law is retroactive to 2015 and ensures parity going forward. In 2016, drivers and transit riders will both qualify for $255 per month pre-tax.
New report highlights safety of older drivers
A new report highlights the themes and findings that emerged from the 2015 Older Driver Safety Summit held in Boston.
New national technical assistance center launches
The Federal Transit Administration has funded Easter Seals and the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging to run a new national technical assistance center: the National Aging and Disability Transportation Center. Learn more or subscribe to the Center's newsletter.
Coming up in January and February
The MBTA hosts public hearings on proposed changes to fares and commuter rail schedules.
The Community Transit Grant Program is open through February 22. MArtap Helping Hands applications are due February 2.
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