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

Read on for a recap of the 2016 Massachusetts Community Transportation Coordination Conference, which set a new record with 183 attendees. This issue also features a new agreement between two transit authorities that will increase efficiency for demand-response trips in the CrossTown Connect area, healthcare organizations partnering with a transit authority to offer training on 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.
Community transportation conference draws record-setting attendance of 183
For the third year in a row, the Massachusetts Community Transportation Coordination Conference experienced record-setting growth. This year's conference drew 183 people representing transportation providers, human service agencies, planning agencies, advocacy organizations, and self-advocates from all regions of Massachusetts. Attendees gathered in Worcester on May 3 for a day highlighting innovative community transportation models, best practices in transportation coordination, and networking opportunities for people involved in improving the mobility of seniors, people with disabilities, and lower-income individuals.
Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito provided a morning keynote emphasizing the Baker-Polito administration's dedication to transportation. She highlighted the Community Compact program as an opportunity for municipalities to set their own goals and partner with the Administration to achieve those goals. Cities and towns can choose to focus on a number of key issues including transportation.
The conference also highlighted work that healthcare organizations are doing to address transportation barriers that affect patient care. Jeff Harness, Director of Community Health and Government Relations at Cooley Dickinson Health Care, along with Rebecca Bialecki, Vice President of Community Health and Chief Change Agent at Heywood Hospital, and Xavier Arinez, Chief Operating Officer at the Family Health Center of Worcester, shared their perspectives on how their organizations came to identify transportation as a concern and described the innovative approaches they are taking to improve access to medical transportation.
Mary Basilone, Mobility Manager at the Greater Attleboro Taunton Regional Transit Authority, closed out the day with a presentation on the expansion of Ride Match into additional regions and ultimately statewide. Ride Match is an online, searchable database of transportation services.
Attendees had the opportunity to explore additional topics during morning and afternoon breakout sessions. In the morning, MassMobility staff offered an introduction to volunteer driver programs, and a panel discussed their experiences starting community shuttle services in Acton, Dedham, and Westborough.  A workshop on employment transportation for lower-income individuals included presentations on integrating transportation into the job search, helping individuals save to purchase a car, and commingling employment transportation passengers with seniors and people with disabilities. An introductory session on travel instruction included a trip outside to the parking lot for a demo on an out-of-service Worcester Regional Transit Authority bus. In the afternoon, representatives of three Transportation Management Associations (TMAs) discussed how to create a TMA, staff from the National Rural Transit Assistance Program presented on their recently-published marketing toolkit, and representatives of Lyft and Uber discussed the extent to which their services do and do not serve seniors, people with disabilities, and lower-income individuals.
If you attended and have not already filled out an evaluation survey, please do so. Notes from all sessions and all presentations will be posted on the conference webpage later this month.
CrossTown Connect and transit authorities sign MOU allowing vehicles to cross town boundaries
In late April, the Montachusett Regional Transit Authority (MART) and Lowell Regional Transit Authority (LRTA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with CrossTown Connect that will allow Council on Aging (COA) vehicles in Acton, Boxborough, Littleton and Maynard to pick up each other's riders. The result will be increased efficiency, leading to increased availability of service for seniors and people with disabilities in the area.
CrossTown Connect is a municipally-led Transportation Management Association that brings public and private partners together to improve transportation for commuters, seniors, people with disabilities, youth, and the general public. For many years, CrossTown Connect has recognized that travel patterns in the region cross town lines. For example, a COA van carrying riders from Boxborough to Emerson Hospital would drive through Acton, but was limited to carrying riders who were town residents and thus could not pick up any riders in Acton. Acton had to send its own COA van to Emerson Hospital, even if space was available on the Boxborough van for all the Acton riders. Adding to the complication, Acton is in LRTA's service area, while Boxborough is a member of MART. CrossTown Connect saw the opportunity to increase efficiency and began to work on cross-town transportation.
Thanks to this new MOU, it will soon be possible for the Boxborough COA van to pick up passengers in Acton or any of the other towns. As a result, CrossTown Connect will be able to create smarter routes that use the vehicles more efficiently, reducing the number of redundant trips by picking up riders in multiple towns along the route to a similar destination. Combining rides on one vehicle will free up other vehicles to serve seniors and people with disabilities in other parts of the region.
This coordination victory is thanks to hard work by the members and staff of CrossTown Connect. Last year, the towns involved in CrossTown Connect joined the Baker-Polito Administration's Community Compact program. Through this program, they were able to access technical assistance from MassDOT to create the MOU between LRTA and MART. MassDOT's Statewide Mobility Manager Aniko Laszlo praised CrossTown Connect for their leadership on this key coordination issue and called for other regions to build on their achievement: "This is undoubtedly a historic agreement...this model, if replicated, will create a more robust network of transportation services across the Commonwealth."
Bedford residents vote to pilot expanded transportation service
In April, Bedford's residents voted in Town Meeting to pilot an expansion of their town transportation service, Bedford Local Transit . Starting in September, Bedford will add a second vehicle to its fleet and launch a demand-response service from noon to 6 PM Monday through Friday. The town is hoping to see increasing ridership and to attract new riders - including seniors, people with disabilities, school-age youth, and the general public.
Current dispatch hours are limited, but the town plans to expand these to make reserving a trip easier. Bedford is also looking into opportunities for residents to request trips online. Town officials are currently developing an RFP to contract with a company to operate the service. Voters approved funding for the pilot, but officials are also applying for grants.
Originally, the town was interested in a fixed-route loop around town, but realized they did not have enough data to plan a route. Instead, they decided to pilot a demand-response service and collect data on trip requests and ridership. They will analyze the data and tweak the program design as appropriate.
In 2014, Bedford used the National Citizen Survey to identify local priorities and found transportation to be a major concern for residents. Transportation also emerged as a key issue in a Healthy Bedford study, and further surveys identified afternoon and early evening as a time when residents would like additional transportation options.
Bedford's Economic Development Coordinator Alyssa Sandoval served as project manager for development of the pilot. Together with Selectman Margot Fleischman, she built a strong coalition of supporters, including the Council on Aging, Healthy Bedford, Youth and Family Services, the Board of Health, Transportation Advisory Committee, Chamber of Commerce, Middlesex Community College, Middlesex3 Coalition, and State Representative Kenneth Gordon.
In developing the pilot, Sandoval cited CrossTown Connect as an influential model. She also spoke with coordinators of local transportation services in nearby towns such as Lexington and Burlington and researched transportation models from other areas and other states.
Healthcare workers gather in Gardner to learn about transportation
Almost 50 staff from healthcare providers and other social service agencies gathered on May 11 to hear presentations on transportation options from MassMobility and a detailed presentation on the Montachusett Regional Transit Authority (MART)'s transportation services. This training was held at the Mt. Wachusett Community College in Gardner and hosted by Heywood Hospital and the Leominster HealthAlliance.
The forum grew out of efforts from the two hospitals and the North Central Regional Coordinating Council to increase awareness of the transportation resources that exist in the region and provide a forum for discussion of the transportation barriers faced by consumers. Transportation was one of the top barriers to healthcare cited by the respondents to hospitals' Community Health Assessments.  When patients miss appointments, healthcare providers lose money, and patients miss vital medical treatment.  The hope is that by educating hospital and provider staff about transportation resources, they will be better able to respond to patient needs when scheduling appointments and recommending treatments.
Community College helps promote transit in Franklin County 
Greenfield Community College President Bob Pura celebrated Earth Month in April by riding the local Franklin Regional Transit Authority (FRTA) bus . Spearheaded by FRTA Assistant Administrator Michael Perrault and FRTA Transit Advisory Committee member Carol Letson, this event marked the launch of a "Ride the Bus" campaign that will include a series of events - approximately one per month - to raise awareness of local transit options that can provide alternatives to driving. The campaign seeks to increase ridership and support for transit in the area and is the brainchild of the marketing subcommittee of FRTA's  Transit Advisory Committee .
MArtap seeks your input
The Massachusetts Rural Transit Assistance Program (MArtap) is seeking input into what its program priorities should be for the coming year. Transportation providers in rural and small urban settings, as well as any other beneficiaries of MArtap programs, are invited to fill out this short survey.
For current offerings, check out MArtap's website and training calendar.
New federal technical assistance center launches website
The website of the National Aging and Disability Transportation Center (NADTC) is now live. Check it out for documents, tools, training opportunities, and grant announcements related to transportation for seniors and people with disabilities

Funded by the Federal Transit Administration, NADTC is a joint initiative of Easter Seals and the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging.
Healthcare funding opportunity due May 31
The Federal Transit Authority's Rides to Wellness initiative is making $5.3 million available nationwide for innovative healthcare transportation efforts. Applications are due May 31. If you have any questions, our National Center for Mobility Management liaison Judy Shanley is available to help.

If you're interested in healthcare transportation, check out this upcoming healthcare transportation workshop that the National Center for Mobility Management is offering in Ithaca, New York in June.
Calling all models!
If you've always wanted to be a model, now is your chance! The National Center for Mobility Management is seeking photos of mobility managers in the field to use in their publications. Contact Amy Conrick with your photos, and let her know what title and photo credit to use.
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