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This October 2018 edition of MassMobility  highlights efforts from the Berkshires to Nantucket to improve mobility for older adults, people with disabilities, veterans, low-income individuals, and others who lack access to transportation.

Read on to learn about a new vanshare agreement in Needham, transportation services on community television in Haverhill and Ware, a veterans' mobility initiative from Holyoke, and more. This issue also features two guest articles from transit authorities: one from Nantucket on their new year-round service, and another from the MBTA on the accessibility of their future fare payment system. We also highlight funding opportunities, a free online course, and more news related to community transportation.

This newsletter is compiled by  MassMobility , an initiative of the 
Apply for funding
Applications for the Federal Transit Administration's Innovative Coordinated Access and Mobility (ICAM) pilot program and Human Services Coordination Research (HSCR) program  are due November 13. ICAM funds are available for innovative capital projects (including mobility management) to improve healthcare transportation coordination for transportation-disadvantaged individuals. HSCR funds will support capital or operating projects that offer innovative solutions to improve local coordination, increase service efficiency, or expand access to coordinated transportation services. For applicant eligibility guidelines and other details, read the Notice of Funding Opportunity .

America Walks is offering small grants of $1500 for projects related to creating healthy, active, and engaged places to live, work, and play. Apply by November 2.
Needham organizations share van
The Needham Community Council and the Charles River YMCA have teamed up to expand transportation options for Needham residents through a van-sharing partnership. Needham Community Council Executive Director Sandy Robinson was looking for ways to expand the scope of transportation already offered to Needham residents. Purchasing a new vehicle was cost-prohibitive, so she decided to look to organizations in the community with vans that were only being utilized for part of the day. When Robinson voiced her need during a community meeting, Paula  Jacobson, Executive Director of the Charles River YMCA, recognized that her organization fit the criteria. They decided to try it out.
Because the YMCA was already transporting children, their insurance policy was comprehensive, and further liability protections were not needed. And because the YMCA already had a driver and was providing maintenance, the Needham Community Council simply had to supply their own dispatch and scheduling and pay for the expanded driver hours. They agreed that the Council would have the van from 10am-1pm Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, while the YMCA would retain use of the vehicle the remainder of the time, as well as full-time during the summer for camps.
"You have to ask for what you need; someone in community might have what you're looking for, but you'll never know if you don't voice your needs," says Robinson. "There is no need to reinvent the wheel, better to dovetail on what someone else is already doing."

Jacobson echoed her sentiments: "If you don't take a risk, there is no gain. Don't hesitate to call local YMCA or other organizations. Try your idea on a small scale first, and if it works, then work on expanding it. We saw that this was a community need and that it was important for the YMCA, a community organization, to do our part to improve transportation in our community."
Walking path promotes mobility for veterans in Holyoke
On September 14, the Soldiers' Home in Holyoke celebrated the opening of a new outdoor walking path for veterans and their families. Approximately 750 feet long, the path begins at an outdoor pavilion and winds around the facility, connecting to benches, a pond, a gazebo, and a scenic overlook of the Pioneer Valley. The path offers a safe, accessible place for veterans, their families, and staff to walk.
Construction of the path is part of the Home's Enhancing Mobility & Falls Prevention Program, which was developed in close collaboration with EOHHS Secretary Marylou Sudders and Elder Affairs Secretary Alice Bonner. In addition to the path, the program also includes a "Walk across America" club in which veterans and staff pair up to walk laps indoors in an area decorated with paintings of scenes from across the country, as well as balance exercises and other program components. The initiative launched last year and is already having impressive results: the rate of falls at the facility has dropped by half, while the rate of actively mobile veterans has increased nearly a third.
Nantucket launches year-round transit service
MassMobility thanks Paula Leary, Administrator of the Nantucket Regional Transit Authority, for submitting this guest article. If you would like to submit a guest article or suggest a topic for us to cover, please contact us.

On a rainy Friday morning - September 28, 2018 - a dedicated group of WAVE fans gathered to cheer as the first bus broke through a banner announcing the beginning of winter service. In addition to being treated to refreshments and WAVE promotional items, attendees also had an opportunity to guess the number of drivers that have worked for the NRTA (498), and the total number of people that have ridden the WAVE since 1995 (over 6 million). Since beginning service in 1995, the NRTA buses have stopped operating after the end of the "summer" season; in recent years that has been after Columbus Day. Now, for the first time in Island history, residents will officially have public transportation all winter with easier access to work, shopping, recreation, and holiday activities.

The event also included remarks by Thomas Schiavone, MassDOT's Deputy Administrator of Transit, as well as Wendy Schmidt, President of The Schmidt Family Foundation and founder of ReMain Nantucket, LLC. Both recognized the progress that the NRTA has made over the past 23 years and praised the leadership that made year-round service possible.
NRTA is pleased to have partnered once again with ReMain Nantucket, LLC to also provide other amenities that will make riding the buses in the winter more comfortable. A new porch has been added to the Greenhound Building on Washington Street, and two new shelters will be constructed. The shelters will be equipped with solar panels to provide light during the early winter evenings when the buses will still be operating.
Community transportation initiatives take to the airwaves 
Community transportation initiatives are taking to the airwaves to market their services. A segment on the Quaboag Connector  aired in August on Ware Community Television as part of the Quaboag Connections series, which features co-hosts John Zienowicz and JAC Patrissi discussing a range of topics. Zienowicz is the Executive Director of the Ware Council on Aging; Patrissi is the Founder and President of Growing a New Heart, as well as Director of Domestic Health Services at Behavioral Health Network, Inc. Both have been  part of the Quaboag Valley Regional Coordinating Council, which oversees the Quaboag Connector, since its inception. A retrospective of the Connector's first year,  the video   covers how the service began and details its current operation.
And nearly 90 miles northeast, Haverhill Community TV featured Virginia Salem , Administrator of Northern Essex Elder Transport (NEET), on Point of Reference with Frank Novak in September. NEET is a non-profit volunteer driver program that collaborates with 14 Councils on Aging in the Merrimack Valley. As part of her efforts to recruit drivers, Salem shared information about NEET's background and scope of service, highlighted the perks of being a volunteer driver, and answered questions about liability concerns.
These broadcast campaigns offer transportation initiatives a cost-effective way to directly communicate with the communities they serve, increasing visibility of their services.
TRIPPS travels to the Berkshires
On October 16, staff from the Brookline-based TRIPPS initiative traveled to the Ralph J. Froio Senior Center in Pittsfield to join representatives from nine Councils on Aging (COAs), a local transportation provider, and the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission for a conversation on senior transportation in Berkshire County. TRIPPS seeks to help older adults learn about, choose, and use transportation services available to them, all towards the goal of reducing isolation. The meeting grew out of a suggestion from Williamstown COA Director Brian O'Grady, who is currently partnering with TRIPPS.
The meeting began with brief presentations from TRIPPS on how they work with older adults in Brookline and Newton, from Age-Friendly Berkshires on last year's medical rides pilot program that encouraged collaboration among Councils on Aging, and from MassMobility on volunteer driver programs. Attendees then participated in an open discussion on needs and opportunities in Berkshire County. Participants reported challenges ranging from towns with no transportation options, limited hours of local COA services, and transportation to long-distance medical appointments in Springfield or Albany. Participants also individually completed a short, written community needs assessment in which they reflected on recent changes affecting transportation access in their community and identified barriers and goals; TRIPPS staff collected these surveys and will analyze them for common themes or opportunities. To continue the conversation about regional mobility for seniors, participants were invited to join the Berkshire County Regional Coordinating Council on Transportation email list.
Salem considers shuttle feasibility
In August, Salem released a study analyzing the feasibility of operating an in-town shuttle to complement existing transportation options. The idea originally emerged during the development of Salem's age-friendly action plan in 2016. "We have really good transportation to and from Salem, but moving around the City gets really tough," explains Senior Planner Amanda Chiancola. "We wanted to look at the feasibility of a shuttle to connect the dots." Although the concept originated as part of the age-friendly initiative, Salem wants the shuttle to serve all riders, not just seniors.
Conducted by TransAction Associates with funding from a Tufts Health Plan Foundation grant, the study reviews current transportation options in Salem, highlights some features of services from other areas that could be a good fit for Salem, reviews alternatives the City could pursue, and makes recommendations. Salem is currently reviewing the recommendations - which include both fixed-route and demand-response options - and hopes to begin operating a shuttle before the end of calendar year 2019.
MBTA plans for accessibility in shift to new payment system

The MBTA is developing a new fare collection system called AFC 2.0 to make paying for transit easier and to make the entire system faster and more efficient. The new Charlie system will include features like the option to pay your fare with your smartphone, all-door boarding, the same payment system on commuter rail as the rest of the MBTA system, and access to Charlie Cards in all fare vending machines. The new Charlie technology will be designed to be capable of additional integration in the future, should the MBTA or other providers choose to adopt or implement it. This could include integration with THE RIDE, the On-Demand Paratransit Pilot Program, and/or Regional Transit Authorities.
The MBTA is currently working with its System-wide Accessibility Team and external disability and accessibility groups to ensure that the new Charlie system works for everyone. New fare collection devices will be designed with consideration for users with a variety of disabilities. For example, devices will feature parts that are easy to reach and operate, wider gate aisles, intuitive interfaces, and increased options for how audio and visual information is conveyed. Digital interfaces will undergo an audit by an external digital accessibility specialist to confirm compliance with regulations and guidelines. Further, all pieces of the system (from physical components to software) will be user-tested by riders with disabilities.

The new system is currently in development, and users can expect to start seeing new equipment starting in mid to late 2019. The new Charlie system will be completed and deployed in mid-2020, and that's when users will be able to begin switching to the new system. Three to six months following the initial deployment, the current system will be turned off, and all MBTA fare gates will be replaced. During construction, special consideration will be given to ensure that accessible gates remain available at every location and that stations and vehicles remain accessible. The project vendor will have a designated accessibility specialist to monitor compliance with accessibility requirements and work directly with the MBTA to resolve concerns. 
Visit to learn more, or send questions to [email protected].
Free online course on volunteer driver programs

The National Aging and Disability Transportation Center is offering a free, self-paced, online course on volunteer driver programs. Participants must sign up by October 26 and complete all assignments by November 30.


To learn more about volunteer driver programs in Massachusetts, join MassMobility's volunteer driver network email list.

Who is MassMobility?
For those of you who only know us through the newsletter,  MassMobility  is a statewide initiative based at  EOHHS  which also receives funding from MassDOT. We seek to improve mobility for older adults, 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 offer 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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