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This February 2018 issue of MassMobility highlights an exciting national grant awarded to the Pioneer Valley region, new service in North Reading and extended service in Nantucket, and more news about community transportation, human service transportation coordination, and mobility management in Massachusetts.

In addition, we encourage you to register for this year's conference, which for the first time will be merged with MassDOT's Innovation and Mobility Exchange and will feature topics related to improving mobility for seniors, people with disabilities, and lower-income individuals on April 11. Scholarships to cover the registration fee are available, but the deadline to apply is fast approaching - details below.

This newsletter is compiled by MassMobility, an initiative of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services, with support from MassDOT.
Conference scholarship applications due March 6
On April 11, join human service agency staff, transportation providers, advocates, and planners for a day of learning about community transportation and networking with peers from all regions of Massachusetts. Sessions will include workshops on rural transportation, advocacy, funding, marketing, and engaging healthcare organizations, with a plenary session on autonomous vehicles (aka "driverless cars") and their implications for mobility of seniors, people with disabilities, and low-income commuters.
This year's conference promises to be the biggest yet, merged for the first time with MassDOT's Innovation and Mobility Exchange. Register at If the registration fee is a deterrent, apply for a Community Mobility Scholarship. Scholarship applications are due March 6 at 5 PM - so do not delay!
The Innovation and Mobility Exchange is a two-day conference, scheduled for April 10 and 11 at the DCU Center in Worcester. Attendees are welcome to attend both days, though all community transportation sessions are scheduled for the second day, April 11. Each day runs from 7:30 AM to 4:30 PM, with breakout sessions starting at 9 AM and ending at 4:30 PM. We hope you can join us!
Pioneer Valley wins competitive national grant for health care transportation design
The Pioneer Valley Transit Authority (PVTA) received one of only seven grants awarded nationally as part of the 2018 Health Care Design Access Challenge, a funding opportunity offered by the National Center for Mobility Management (NCMM). PVTA will work in partnership with Baystate Health, Health New England, Stavros Center for Independent Living, Greater Springfield Senior Services, New North Citizens' Council, and the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, along with Amherst College Professor Moumita Dasgupta.
The award provides funding and technical assistance for the partners to use the Design Thinking for Community Transportation process to thoroughly explore a health care transportation challenge and develop a pitch for a solution. The Pioneer Valley team plans to look at medical access for low-income residents, given a 25 percent rate of missed appointments at one member health care provider, consumer difficulties accessing transportation home from the doctor if the appointment runs late, and the high cost of paratransit rides. The team plans to focus their exploration on transportation within Accountable Care Organizations and ultimately hopes to find a cost-effective approach to improve the customer experience while also improving health outcomes.
Pioneer Valley team members are not new to the Design Thinking concept. Dasgupta participated in a previous Design Thinking grant from NCMM in Worcester, and PVTA Senior Transit Operations Analyst Price Armstrong participated in a two-day Design Thinking workshop that MassDOT sponsored in September. To learn more about Design Thinking and how it relates to community transportation, register for NCMM's free webinar series on Creating Innovative Transportation Solutions.

Nantucket announces year-round bus service
MassMobility thanks Paula Leary, Administrator of the Nantucket Regional Transit Authority, for submitting this guest article. If you would like to submit an article or have an idea for a topic,  please contact us.

Nantucket has a rich transportation history: whaling ships, steam-powered ferries, and the Nantucket Railroad in the 1800's, and airplanes beginning during the First World War. Fast forward to 1995, and the Nantucket Regional Transit Authority  (NRTA) began providing the island's first public bus service.
Today, NRTA continues to provide reliable transportation for island residents, visitors, and workers. Rebranded in 2010 as The WAVE, the bus service has undergone a number of changes and improvements throughout its 22 years of operation. Perhaps the most significant change is planned for 2018. Historically, The WAVE has been a seasonal service, operating from May to mid-October, but a study completed in 2016 by the AECOM consulting group looked at the feasibility of extending the bus service year-round. After much review and consideration, the NRTA Advisory Board and Board of Selectmen voted last September to approve transitioning the service from seasonal to year-round. Plans are now underway to make that happen starting late April 2018.
WAVE ridership has increased 11 percent since the rebranding in 2010. NRTA Chair Dawn Hill Holdgate is optimistic that expanding the availability of bus service throughout the year will be a very positive benefit for the island: "2018 will be another historic year for transportation on Nantucket. We are looking forward to making sure that getting around the island will soon be much easier for year-round residents and workers," she says.
Ring and Ride launches in North Reading 
In October 2017, Ring and Ride  launched in North Reading. The service provides transportation to medical appointments for residents of the town aged 60 and older, as well as disabled veterans of any age.
While every surrounding town has paratransit service provided by either the Merrimack Valley Regional Transit Authority (MVRTA) or MBTA's THE RIDE , North Reading has not had fixed route transit since the 1970s, and relied on Council on Aging (COA) vans and a small volunteer driver program to provide medical transportation for older adults. Recognizing the importance of filling this transportation gap, North Reading selectmen, the town planner, the community planning commission, and COA Director worked together to identify how to best cover this unmet need. Community Compact and town meeting funds were used to hire a consultant to conduct a study of the town's transportation needs. The resulting report highlighted options that could be used to serve the town's large population of older adults needing transportation to medical appointments.
In May 2017, using a new law that allows a town to join multiple transit authorities, the North Reading Board of Selectmen voted to join the MVRTA, which allowed for establishment of the "Ring and Ride" door-to-door service. MVRTA handles dispatch, and the service operates at no cost to the user for in-town trips and on a tiered fee for transportation to medical appointments in other communities. Reservations must be made at least 24 hours in advance, and rides are available on weekdays from 6 AM to 6 PM. 
Thank you to Michael Muehe
After 24 years, Michael Muehe retired in January from his position as Executive Director of the Cambridge Commission for Persons with Disabilities. In his post, Muehe was a staunch proponent of accessible transportation and worked hard to improve mobility for Cambridge residents. He helped oversee the City's taxi discount coupon program, developed a wheelchair-accessible taxicab program, inspected new taxicabs to ensure compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and trained taxi drivers in working with customers with disabilities. Muehe was also a founding member of Ways2Go, a transportation coordination team whose travel training program was the precursor to the current MBTA travel training. Most recently, he advocated for people with disabilities to have equal access to services provided by companies like Uber and Lyft.
Muehe's transportation advocacy predated his tenure with the City, beginning when he was in college in Boston in the early 1980s. At the time, he lived near the green line, which was not accessible to wheelchair-users. "I was tired of getting rained on," he explains, and so began attending meetings of the group that is now called the Access Advisory Committee to the T, or AACT.  Muehe continued his advocacy through the 1980s, participating in a lawsuit brought by the Disability Law Center that led the MBTA to agree that all new buses purchased would be lift-equipped.
As he shifts into retirement, Muehe offers two guiding principles to advocates and organizers. First, "nothing about us without us" - when planning a program, make sure people with disabilities are involved and sharing their needs, preferences, and priorities. Second, change does not always happen quickly; we have to be in the fight for the long haul.
Please join us in thanking Michael and wishing him a happy retirement!
Looking for a good read?
Hot off the press - Dr. Nina Silverstein and Dr. Helen Kerschner recently published Introduction to Senior Transportation: Enhancing Community Mobility and Transportation Services. The textbook presents the content that the professors have compiled over five years of teaching an online course on senior transportation at UMass Boston. Interested in learning more? Silverstein and Kerschner expect to offer the course again in fall 2018.

Congratulations to Greater Lynn Senior Services for having their work featured on the blog of the National Aging and Disability Transportation Center.
CTPS helps communities study transportation options
The Central Transportation Planning Staff (CTPS) offers  technical assistance on transportation issues at no cost to applicants from  member municipalities, which include Greater Boston and many communities within the 495 belt. CTPS has worked with municipalities, Regional Transit Authorities, and Transportation Management Associations, offering research capacity to assist with planning and evaluating potential services. In recent years, CTPS has focused on first and last mile issues, such as working with the Town of Concord to assess pedestrian access from the West Concord train station to nearby employers. For this project, CTPS analyzed local employment data, made suggestions for pedestrian improvements near the train station, recommended wayfinding techniques for a future rail trail, and estimated the cost of an employment shuttle.
Member municipalities wishing for assistance with a clearly defined project or small study can  contact CTPS and apply to see if this program would be a good fit. "We try to be as holistic as possible," says Transit Analyst Andy Reker. "We can look at fixed-route service, but also anything else that makes the experience better, such as better or safer access to existing transit."
National conference comes to Pittsburgh, PA in June
If our April 11 statewide conference whets your appetite, consider attending the national conference offered annually by the Community Transportation Association of America. This year's EXPO conference is scheduled for June 10-14 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and will feature an all-day session on mobility management on Tuesday, June 12. CTAA is looking for feedback on the agenda for the mobility management day.
Mobility managers are also invited to share your efforts and accomplishments during a mobility management poster session on June 12 and 13. Submit a proposal by March 20. If your poster is selected, CTAA will offer you a $200 stipend.
Who is MassMobility?
For those of you who only know us through the newsletter,  MassMobility is a state initiative based at EOHHS which also receives funding from MassDOT. We seek to improve mobility for seniors, people with disabilities, and others in all regions of Massachusetts by sharing information about existing services and supporting organizations in their efforts to fill transportation gaps.  We provide presentations to human service agency staff to help them learn how to help consumers find transportation, and we also provide technical assistance to any organization looking to address transportation challenges. We welcome you to contact us any time if you have a question or idea for a project that would improve mobility for seniors or people with disabilities.
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