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This February 2016 issue of MassMobility covers news about community transportation, human service transportation coordination, and mobility management in Massachusetts.

Read on to learn about how Regional Transit Authorities are partnering to expand the online searchable trip database Ride Match into a statewide tool, one region at a time. This month's issue also features stories on innovative approaches being piloted to bring RMV services to COAs, use carshare to expand mobility options for lower-income residents of Boston, offer free rides to paratransit users in Everett, and more. We also thank Paula George as she transitions to part-time work.

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.
Save the date! Conference May 3
Mark your calendars for the 2016 Massachusetts Community Transportation Coordination Conference, scheduled for Tuesday, May 3. Keep an eye out for an invitation with details. If you are not sure if you are already on our conference mailing list, sign up here In the meantime, you can check out materials from last year's conference.
Community Transit Grant Program 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.
Applicants may wish to consider submitting letters of support from partnering agencies to strengthen the coordination section of the application.
BRTA and GATRA partner to help Berkshire County residents and visitors find rides
Thanks to a partnership between the Berkshire Regional Transit Authority (BRTA) and the Greater Attleboro Taunton Regional Transit Authority (GATRA), individuals can now use Ride Match - an online, searchable trip database developed by GATRA - to search for rides in Berkshire County. Users enter their town of origin, their destination, and any accommodations or supports they need, and the database returns a list of public and private transportation providers serving that route, along with contact information for each service.
BRTA staff received training from GATRA last fall and have been entering data on public transit routes and private transportation providers into the database, starting with the transportation services listed in Berkshire County's Ride Guide. Originally created by community partners in 2008, the Ride Guide was updated by the Berkshire County Regional Coordinating Council last year and is maintained by the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission. BRTA staff checked the information before adding it to Ride Match and passed along any service changes to the planning commission to add to the Ride Guide.
"We are very excited to make Ride Match available in Berkshire County," says BRTA Administrator Bob Malnati. "Ride Match is a terrific tool that will help residents and visitors connect with our fixed route and paratransit services, as well as the Council on Aging vans and other community transportation services in Berkshire County."
Previously, Ride Match primarily contained information about transportation options in Southeastern Massachusetts. The addition of Berkshire County is part of a statewide Ride Match expansion funded by MassDOT. Throughout 2016, GATRA will be collaborating with a number of transit authorities to add public and private transportation services from their regions into the database, in order to help individuals find the rides they need to access their medical appointments, jobs, social engagements, and other community activities across the Commonwealth.

Over 800 Hilltown residents complete transportation needs assessment
The Hilltown Regional Coordinating Council (RCC) is wrapping up data collection for its needs assessment survey this month. So far they have received over 800 responses. The RCC has been working on solving transportation barriers in the region since 2014, and received funding for their efforts from the Tufts Health Plan Foundation in 2015. Since then, the group has been gathering information and building momentum around implementing new transportation services in the Hilltown region, which covers the rural western half of Hampden and Hampshire Counties.

Stakeholders in the group include the local Councils on Aging (COAs), Highland Valley Elder Services, Stavros, Hilltown Community Development Corporation (CDC), Hilltown Community Health Center, and Cooley Dickinson Health Care. Each organization reached out to their staff and consumers to encourage them to complete the survey. The largest response came through the efforts of the COAs, each of which compiled a list of all seniors in their town. Using these lists, staff at the Hilltown CDC mailed a copy of the survey to each senior in the region. The RCC also sent the survey out with Meals on Wheels. The response rate has been impressive across the entire region.
Preliminary results of the survey show that the majority of residents in the Hilltowns drive themselves, but there is a lot of interest in the possibility of a new transportation option, as the Hilltown population ages in place. The next step for the RCC is to hold focus groups to learn more about residents' personal experiences with transportation barriers in the region.
The Hilltown group will be seeking another round of funding this year as they complete their planning process and move toward implementation of new transportation services. 
Boston pilots carshare as a way to increase mobility and equity
The City of Boston is six months into a pilot project expanding carsharing across the city with the goals of improving mobility options, increasing geographic equity of transportation resources, reducing emissions, and decreasing vehicle ownership. The pilot made 80 spots in municipal lots and on city streets available to carsharing companies. Zipcar and Enterprise Carshare both submitted applications and were each awarded 40 spots.
Spots are located in areas selected by the City. Using data from the Registry of Motor Vehicles, city staff identified neighborhoods with high car ownership but low usage. They also targeted areas with transit and bikeshare but little carshare, areas not well served by transit, and commercial districts in neighborhoods previously underserved by carshare.
The pilot is run through the Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics (MONUM), a six-year-old initiative focused on piloting new approaches to improve city services for constituents. Data and technology play an important role in all of MONUM's projects. During the course of the 18-month carshare pilot, MONUM is collecting data on the utilization of the vehicles - such as what percentage of time a vehicle is in use, amount of idle time between trips, day and time of trips, length of trips in miles, and number of users per vehicle per month. Participating carshare companies must also report their membership by zip code and list the outreach activities they undertake to promote carsharing. Based on the results, MONUM will decide whether to make revisions or expand the pilot.

In terms of equity, the new spots are concentrated in some of Boston's lower-income neighborhoods that were previously underserved by carshare, such as Dorchester and Roxbury. In addition, MONUM is currently exploring further approaches to increasing access to carsharing for lower-income residents for possible future pilot programs.
RMV partners with COAs
Councils on Aging (COAs) have the option to offer a new service, thanks to the Baker-Polito administration and MassDOT. Through the new "RMV Near Me" initiative, the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) is partnering with COAs to enable seniors to conduct certain RMV online transactions - such as renewing a driver's license or registration or changing an address - at the COA. The program is the latest in a series of initiatives designed to improve customer service at the RMV by offering alternative service solutions. With the option to conduct some RMV business at COAs, seniors can avoid traveling to RMV branch offices, and RMV branch locations will likely have shorter lines.

By law, seniors who are age 75 or older must renew their licenses in person at an RMV branch. However, seniors over 75 can pre-stage their application online at the COA to reduce their wait time at the RMV branch.
The program is open to all COAs. So far, over 50 have signed up, and efforts are underway to expand the initiative to additional COAs. Michele Ellicks, Community Outreach Coordinator for the RMV, has been traveling to participating COAs to train staff. COAs can decide whether to make the service available only to seniors or to the general public
The COA in Sharon signed up as soon as the opportunity became available: "We're always looking to expand the services we can offer to seniors and the community," explains Office Manager Nancy Weiner. "We've all waited in line at the RMV, and some seniors aren't as computer-savvy and so don't use the online services on their own." They found a trustworthy volunteer, and Michele Ellicks came to Sharon to train her and four COA staff. The volunteer is available every Wednesday for an hour and a half for people who walk in and want help conducting RMV transactions. Anyone who cannot come on Wednesdays can make an appointment for another day with one of the staff. To date, the COA has helped four people.
To find out if your local COA offers RMV Near Me, contact your COA. COAs interested in participating should contact Michele Ellicks for more information.
Thank you to Paula George
In December, Paula George retired from her position as Deputy Administrator and Human Service Transportation Coordinator at the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority (CCRTA). She continues on at CCRTA part-time to work on travel instruction and other special projects.
Paula began her transportation career as a part-time school bus driver to supplement her income. Over 26 years, she moved up at her company, from driving full-time to training and recruiting drivers and serving as a supervisor and manager.
When she moved to the Cape, she looked for work closer to home. In 1999, she found a job coordinating CCRTA's Access to Jobs program to help people find the transportation they needed to transition successfully from welfare to employment. As the state began to phase out that program, the Human Service Transportation Office was first forming, and Paula worked with CCRTA's grants manager to apply to become a broker. She took on the management of CCRTA's role in the brokerage program and found the mission to be a good fit: "The programs do important work for consumers, and without the transportation, the consumers wouldn't get the services they need."
At CCRTA, Paula has also played an important role in building strong relationships with Councils on Aging and other agency partners in the region, helping connect the RTA with the community. Paula enjoys working with CCRTA's staff and the transportation providers to go above and beyond to meet consumers' needs. Recalling an occasion when a family was so touched that they sent her flowers, she says, "It was no big thing to us, but meant so much to that family."
Please join us in thanking Paula for all the work she has done to help consumers and strengthen the community transportation network in Massachusetts.
State legislators celebrate launch of Cross-Acton Transit
On January 29, stakeholders gathered for the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Cross-Acton Transit (CAT), a new fixed-route bus service that provides transportation around the town of Acton. The service is operated by CrossTown Connect, the local Transportation Management Association that serves the towns of Acton, Boxborough, Concord, Littleton, Maynard, Stow, and Westford.
Speakers included Senator Jamie Eldridge, who praised local transit advocate Franny Osman's "relentless spirit" for getting the ball rolling on increasing transportation in the community. State Representatives Jennifer Benson and Cory Atkins praised the town of Acton for "getting things done" and being a leader in transportation. The Massachusetts House of Representatives issued a citation to Doug Halley, Acton's former Health Director and current Transportation Coordinator, and Acton Selectman Franny Osman in honor of their efforts to bring more transportation options to Acton.
Acton has been increasing the transportation services it offers to residents since implementing a rail shuttle in 2010, and has won multiple grants and awards since then for its innovative suburban transportation system. The fixed-route service is their newest offering, and if it is popular they will consider expanding it. If you are interested in riding the CAT, you can find the schedule online, along with a live shuttle tracker so you can see where the vehicle is in real time.
New pilot offers free rides in Everett
MassDOT has funded Door2Door by SCM and Mystic Valley Elder Services (MVES) to expand their RIDE relief pilot to Everett. Previously operating only in Malden and Medford, the pilot offers RIDE-eligible consumers who enroll through MVES up to six free round trips (or 12 one-way trips) per month.
Individuals who are RIDE customers call MVES to enroll. Once they are registered, they call Door2Door directly to arrange their trips. The program expanded to Everett in December, and riders have already begun using the service.
 "Our goal is to make a less costly alternative available to folks who need it," explains Door2Door Executive Director John Keegan. "This pilot will allow us - in partnership with MassDOT and Mystic Valley - to see where the demand is."  
MassDOT launches intercity ticketing app
MassDOT has launched BusPlus, a multi-carrier intercity bus mobile application, which is the first of its kind in the nation. The BusPlus app lets you purchase and use intercity and commuter bus tickets instantly on your smartphone. Currently, users of the app can purchase tickets for MAX and 128 Business Council's REV Bus. In the coming months, MassDOT will work on developing and launching an accompanying website, as well as adding more operators and bus routes to the app.

Here's how it works:
  1. Plan a trip by selecting an origin, destination, and schedule
  2. Choose the type of ticket and quantity
  3. Create an account and link your credit/debit card to complete checkout
  4. Activate your ticket and show it to the bus driver
You can download the app from Google Play  or the App Store .
MBTA releases travel instruction RFP
On February 12, the MBTA posted an RFP for an organization to provide travel instruction services. Questions are due by March 1, and bids are due March 15.
New MArtap website lists training opportunities and other resources
The Massachusetts Rural Transit Assistance Program (MArtap) has launched its new website . As in the past, the new website includes the MArtap Driver Training Calendar, as well as online forms to register for a training session or request to host one. New features include online scholarship and mini-grant application forms.

Upcoming MArtap training opportunities include Passenger Assistance Training, Defensive Driving, and Accessible Lift Use and Passenger Securement. Sessions are held at different locations around Massachusetts and are currently scheduled for Auburn, East Bridgewater, Fitchburg, Greenfield, Milton, and Pembroke. Find the schedule and sign up on the training calendar webpage.
MassOptions offers information and referral services
The Executive Office of Health and Human Services encourages any senior or person with a disability looking for services to call the new MassOptions hotline for information and referral services. Between 8 AM and 8 PM seven days a week, callers can contact 1 (844) 422-6277 toll-free for information on transportation and other services related to living independently in the community. Trained specialists will listen to callers' needs and then refer them to Aging Disability and Resource Consortium partners or state health and human service agencies, as appropriate. Caregivers and family members are also welcome to call the hotline.
Coming up in February and March
The Community Transit Grant Program is open through February 22.

Applications for the Inclusive Planning Impact Grant from the National Center for Mobility Management are due March 18.

The Federal Transit Administration is offering a series of webinars on the Americans with Disabilities Act.

MassDOT is offering a series of workshops on Complete Streets. Attendance at a workshop is required for municipalities to be eligible for funding and technical assistance through MassDOT's new Complete Streets program.

Check out our calendar for additional upcoming events and opportunities.
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