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Happy spring! This April 2019 issue of the MassMobility newsletter covers  news related to mobility for older adults, people with disabilities, and low-income individuals in Massachusetts.

Read to learn about new pilot programs seeking to expand access to on-demand, wheelchair-accessible rides in Greater Boston and health and recovery in Greater Lowell, agency updates from the Human Service Transportation Office and MassDOT, awards and recognition for local mobility initiatives, a recap of the 2019 Transportation Innovation Conference, and more!

This newsletter is compiled by  MassMobility , an initiative of the 
MBTA & MassDOT announce pilot to expand access to wheelchair-accessible, on-demand rides
On April 1, the MBTA and MassDOT launched a year-long pilot program to expand access to transportation network companies (TNCs), such as Uber and Lyft, for individuals who need wheelchair-accessible vehicles (WAVs). This pilot provides financial incentives to both Uber and Lyft in an effort to increase the number of wheelchair-accessible TNC vehicles on the road. Uber and Lyft are awarded a fixed subsidy for every hour spent by a WAV on their platforms.
The WAV subsidy pilot grew out of the MBTA's On-Demand Paratransit Pilot, which began in 2016 and provides RIDE customers with on-demand transportation options through Uber, Lyft, and Curb. Participant feedback provided to the MBTA revealed that WAV service through these ride-hailing companies was lagging, with significantly higher wait times for accessible vehicles. In studying ways to improve equity, the MBTA considered contracting with companies that already own and operate WAVs. Ultimately, it decided the best way to increase the number of accessible vehicles available on each platform was to lessen, through subsidies, the costs of owning and operating a WAV. These financial incentives are intended to decrease associated costs for TNCs and their drivers in order to increase the availability of WAV service.
Funding for the subsidy comes from the 2016 Act Regulating TNCs, which assesses a per-trip fee of 20 cents for every TNC ride originating in Massachusetts. The subsidy only covers part of the cost of operating WAVs; the ride-hailing companies cover the remainder. The pilot is currently operating in The RIDE service area but may expand in the future.
Lowell panel highlights pilot programs promoting health and recovery through transportation
On March 22, over 50 people attended a panel convened by the Social Determinants of Health Task Force of the Greater Lowell Health Alliance to hear about new initiatives promoting transportation access to recovery services and healthy aging. Four organizations in the Greater Lowell area shared their strategies for addressing transportation barriers to health.
Two organizations highlighted pilots that launched in late 2018. In September, Community Teamwork Inc. (CTI) began using Lyft Concierge to replace a taxi voucher system, due to lack of availability of taxis. In addition, a grant from a community foundation allowed CTI to begin using their own drivers and vehicles mid-day when not in use to take people in recovery to drug court. In December, the Tewksbury Police Department began using Uber Health to book rides for people in recovery to get to treatment programs - without the stigma of riding in a police cruiser. Tewksbury is funding this initiative through grants from the Greater Lowell Health Alliance and Lowell General Hospital.
Two additional organizations presented on pilots that are in development, but not yet launched. Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley has received some funding from Lowell General Hospital and is looking to offer subsidized Uber rides to older adults having problems accessing medical services. They are working with Circulation to customize the Uber Health platform. The Merrimack Valley Project is working with legislators to identify sustainable funding to pay for transportation to treatment for people in recovery when they call the state's substance abuse helpline. They are hoping that some drivers will also be recovery coaches.
Tewksbury Police Chief Timothy Sheehan stressed the value the program is having for his community: "When someone is ready for treatment, you don't want to miss that opportunity - you want to help them get there. Everybody's path to recovery is different, so we have to be flexible."
Worcester advocates receive second grant
Easterseals Massachusetts received a $70,000 grant from the federal Transit Planning for All initiative to continue their work promoting transportation advocacy among bus riders, paratransit users, and people looking for wheelchair-accessible on-demand options in Worcester. Last year , the Worcester effort was one of only 12 initiatives nationally selected for funding; this year, it was one of only seven to get a follow-up grant. Transit Planning for All is funded by the Administration for Community Living and focuses on strengthening the role that older adults and individuals with disabilities play in transportation planning and decision-making.
In its first six months, the Worcester Transportation Advocacy Coalition brought advocates together to learn about each other's needs and efforts, support each other's campaigns, and identify shared goals. The group conducted outreach to learn about riders' needs and interests, successfully campaigned to get a bus rider appointed to the Worcester Regional Transit Authority (WRTA) Advisory Board, and organized a half-day roundtable in December. Additional goals for the next nine months include getting a person with a disability on the WRTA Advisory Board; bringing wheelchair-accessible, affordable, on-demand options to Worcester; and looking at options to reduce transit fares for low-income riders.
Organizations looking to strengthen the role that older adults and people with disabilities play in community transportation planning can find tools and resources on the Transit Planning for All website.
Springfield program loans adaptive bikes to youth with disabilities
On March 31 and April 1, over 100 families came from across New England to the Springfield Jewish Community Center (JCC) for the annual Project RIDE tune-up. Through Project RIDE, the JCC owns and loans out adaptive bikes in three sizes to youth with disabilities. The adaptive bikes are sturdy, durable tricycles that make biking possible for people who can pedal, but whose disabilities prevent them from using a two-wheeled bike.
The JCC has offered Project RIDE since 2007, when it was started by a couple so that their daughter and her peers could learn to bike. With just a handful of participants the first year, the program quickly grew: "We never thought it would get to this magnitude. We've served hundreds of families with hundreds of trikes over the years," shared Bethany Young, Director of Kehillah, the JCC's special needs program. Currently, the JCC owns 150 adaptive bikes.
Youth with disabilities who are at least 44 inches tall and can pedal can sign up for a loaner bike. When they get the bike, they also get a helmet; if they need extra supports, the JCC provides those as well. Riders who grow out of their bike can trade it for the next size up. If a rider stops using the bike, the JCC asks them to return it so that someone else can use it, as the program has a waitlist. There is no age limit, and at least one rider is over age 30. The JCC does not teach the riders how to ride, so riders who need additional help work with their schools or other outside groups.
Aside from a suggested $25 annual fee, the program is completely free to participants. The JCC funds the program through donations and foundation grants. "It's a costly program to run, but worth it! Especially for riders who can't drive or take public transportation, this gives them some transportation and access in their communities," Young said.
"It changed our lives. It had been challenging to find an exercise our son enjoyed, but he's become so enthusiastic about biking," shared parent Kristen Strauss, when she brought her son to get his bike tuned up. "It is the first athletic activity that we've all been able to do together as a family.  This program is an investment for body and mind."
EOHHS seeks input on HST brokerage through listening sessions & RFI
EOHHS will host public listening sessions for the Human Service Transportation Office's (HST) Brokerage System. The HST Office oversees non-emergency medical transportation for MassHealth members as well as transportation for Department of Developmental Services, Department of Public Health, Department of Mental Health, Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission, and Massachusetts Commission for the Blind programs. MassHealth covers transportation for trips to medical, dental, mental health, or substance use disorder appointments, as well transportation to Day Habilitation programs.
EOHHS invites consumers, MassHealth members, and other stakeholders to attend, share their experiences with the program, and make suggestions for improvement. Comments and suggestions made at the listening session may be used to inform program design and procurement going forward.
The listening sessions are open to all members of the public and will take place in Boston on April 29, in Springfield on May 6, and in Chelmsford on May 8. Locations, timing, and details are available on the HST websiteIf you have questions or need to request accommodations, please email HST . Occupancy may be limited and will be available on first-come, first-served basis.

EOHHS has also released a Request for Information (RFI) to solicit written input from all interested parties on an array of topics under consideration, including improvements to consumer experience, integration of additional service levels, and inclusion of ride-hail services in the future.
Community Transit Grant Program schedule coming soon
Keep an eye on the Community Transit Grant Program website for the announcement of this year's training sessions and application schedule! MassDOT expects to offer training sessions in May and open the application period in late May; completed proposals will be due in late June.

The Community Transit Grant Program is MassDOT's annual funding opportunity for initiatives that enhance the mobility of older adults and people with disabilities. Organizations and municipalities can apply for vehicles, operating expenses, and/or mobility management projects. The funding disbursed includes federal 5310 funds as well as state Mobility Assistance Program (MAP) funds.
MassDOT changes employment transportation funding policy
In January, MassDOT announced that  the  current  MassRIDES initiative would end on June 30 of this year . In April, MassDOT announced that it plans to reallocate the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) funds  currently used for MassRIDES to a new competitive funding program under development by the MassDOT Transit Division .

Through the new program, MassDOT hopes to offer seed money for new  and innovative employment transportation services. Before releasing a Request for Proposals, MassDOT is seeking feedback from employers, Transportation Management Associations, and other stakeholders on the design of this new funding stream. MassDOT plans to offer listening sessions to be hosted by economic development agencies and business associations  around the state  in May and June . W hen the listening session schedule is released, it will be posted  on the MassDOT Rail & Transit Division website. For more information, please   contact Alex Cox.

Employees currently receiving services through MassRIDES have until April 30 to use the Emergency Ride Home program. BayState Commute, the online database for finding carpool companions, will continue under different sponsorship and management. Users who want to continue using their accounts should log in and answer a brief poll before June 30.
MassRIDES is currently compiling guidance documents and templates for employers interested in providing their own transportation demand management services. These resources will be available later this spring. In June, MassRIDES will offer a series of webinars on using the tools.
Stoneham committee wins national award
Congratulations to the Stoneham Transportation Advisory Committee (STAC) for winning the American Planning Association (APA)'s 2019 gold National Planning Achievement Award for a grassroots initiative. A volunteer-run advocacy group, STAC offers Stoneham stakeholders the opportunity to work together to advance local accessible and equitable mobility choices for all. Currently , members have chosen to focus on expanding bus service, promoting complete streets, and identifying opportunities to improve local east-west mobility. STAC is an advisory committee under the auspices of the nonprofit Stoneham Community Development Corporation.
Impressed by the committee's work, Stoneham's Town Planner nominated them for the APA award. Stoneham received one of only 25 awards given nationally. "Stoneham is just a middle-income town, but we got one of only two awards given to New England efforts," shares STAC Chair Rachel Meredith-Warren. "It shows that no matter the profile of your town, you can be strategic about organizing existing resources." Meredith-Warren highly recommends the STAC model, and welcomes members of other communities to attend their meetings to observe.
STAC previously won two awards from the Massachusetts chapter of the APA in 2017.
WalkBoston recognizes advocates from Fall River & Springfield
Across Massachusetts, individuals and organizations are taking steps to make their communities safer and more inviting to pedestrians. On March 18, proponents of walkable neighborhoods gathered at WalkBoston's annual event to celebrate the nonprofit's work promoting walkability across the state. As part of the annual gathering, WalkBoston recognized local advocates with " Golden Shoe" awards for their efforts and accomplishments.
Coalitions from Fall River and Springfield each received a Golden Shoe. The Fall River group included advocates who have worked to promote and maintain a walking trail along the river, improve sidewalk and crosswalk infrastructure around the senior center, and collaborate with the City on a Complete Streets policy. The Springfield group included City staff as well as regional planners and local advocates who have collaborated to get infrastructure improved and policies passed to institutionalize those improvements.
Keynote speaker Dr. Eric Fleegler also won a Golden Shoe for his research on pedestrian safety as a public health priority. A physician and researcher at Boston Children's Hospital, Dr. Fleegler presented on the social determinants of health and his work helping patients connect to resources outside of the healthcare system through HelpSteps, an online and app-based referral system.

Interested in learning more about this topic? Check out these upcoming webinars on age-friendly streets from the Pedestrian & Bicycle Information Center, or  age-friendly walking in Massachusetts from WalkBoston.
TRIPPS celebrates three years of promoting transportation to reduce isolation in Brookline and Newton
State Representative Tommy Vitolo and Brookline Transportation Planner Todd Kirrane joined over 30 participants, volunteers, staff, and supporters of the TRIPPS program on March 28 to celebrate the program's accomplishments in the three years it received funding from MassDOT's Community Transit Grant Program. The Brookline and Newton Councils on Aging (COAs) partnered with local champions to launch TRIPPS in 2015, in order to reduce senior isolation and assist older residents in retiring from driving by promoting awareness of local transportation options.
Staff highlighted program accomplishments from the past three years, including organizing field trips to take the T to visit downtown Boston attractions, implementing a peer mentoring program where older residents comfortable using a particular form of transportation volunteer to assist others, and offering workshops to help older adults learn to download and use Uber and Lyft apps. TRIPPS distributed copies of their Resource Guide, with information about how to use different transportation options available in the area, as well as a recent report on transportation usage by older adults in Brookline. The celebration concluded with a look to the future: Brookline plans to institutionalize the TRIPPS program, first with grant funding and eventually with a sustainable funding source.
Although based in Brookline and Newton, TRIPPS has taken steps to make their programming available more broadly. The workshops on using Uber and Lyft are available to any COA, and TRIPPS volunteers have already offered them in Wayland and Weston, among other locations. With funding from the Massachusetts Councils on Aging, TRIPPS partnered with Northampton and Williamstown in 2018 to see how the tools and approaches resonated in a more rural setting. Resources related to TRIPPS' programming are available online through the TRIPPS toolkit, which was recently overhauled after its initial launch last October.
Conference highlights innovative & promising approaches to community mobility
Thanks to all who attended the 2019 MassDOT Transportation Innovation Conference ! The Community Mobility Track offered breakout sessions on topics related to community transportation and mobility management.

One of the most popular sessions in the Community Mobility track featured inclusive planning: including end-users in developing services and making decisions. Joe Bellil of Easterseals Massachusetts shared the work being done in Worcester under a Transit Planning for All grant, and Price Armstrong of the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority presented on using Design Thinking to integrate consumer feedback into program design. Armstrong was part of a Springfield group that received a healthcare access design challenge grant last year from the National Center for Mobility Management. Another popular session focused on employment transportation, including MassDOT's announcement of its new approach to funding services.

Other topics included walkability for older adults and people with disabilities, innovative programs to help low-income riders afford transportation, mobility management efforts from around New England, age- and dementia-friendly transportation, transportation as a social determinant of health, and programs that support older adults in using Transportation Network Companies. Attendees also had the option to attend other conference sessions, such as a panel highlighting existing and emerging apps that promote accessibility  at the MBTA.

This was the first year the community transportation sessions were spread out over two days. If you attended the conference, please fill out the evaluation form. If you did not attend the conference, please share your suggestions for next year. If you have questions about a particular community mobility track session, please contact us.
Job posting
WalkBoston is hiring a Program Manager to oversee its statewide technical assistance programs that work to improve the safety and quality of the pedestrian environment.
Learn to offer travel training
Staff of transit authorities, human service agencies, special education classrooms, and transition programs who are interested in offering travel training are invited to sign up for a workshop. Learn from expert travel trainers about the components of a travel training program and important considerations in offering travel training. Travel training is the professional activity of helping older adults, people with disabilities, and others learn the skills and information they need to use fixed-route public transit independently and safely.

Staff from the Kennedy Center in Connecticut will be offering a three-day introductory workshop in Fitchburg in June.  The workshop is available free of charge thanks to funding from MassDOT. Please note that if you have previously attended the Kennedy Center introductory workshop, you do not need to register as this is same workshop being offered again.

To receive announcements of future workshops and other professional development opportunities related to travel training, please join our Travel Instruction Network email list.
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