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Welcome to the April 2020 issue of the MassMobility newsletter. As we move into the second month of the State of Emergency, we want to thank all our readers who are on the front lines helping older adults, people with disabilities, and essential workers. We also wish to send a special thank you  to all  drivers  who continue to transport people to essential trips.

This month's issue highlights great work that was happening before the State of Emergency took effect in Massachusetts - such as initiatives to help youth with disabilities get their driver's licenses. We also highlight recent efforts by community transportation providers to adapt to new circumstances and even launch new programs. In addition, read on to learn about grant opportunities, new reports,  and more news related to transportation for  older adults, people with disabilities, and low-income individuals in Massachusetts .

The newsletter is compiled by  MassMobility , an initiative of the  Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services .
Apply for a grant
Many grant opportunities that were due this spring have extended their deadlines. Check out our funding webpage for updates. 

One-year Transportation Justice grants from Transportation for Massachusetts for work at the intersection of transportation and social justice are due April 30.

MassDOT's annual Community Transit Grant Program is scheduled to open May 8. Councils on Aging, non-profits, transit authorities, municipalities, and some taxis can apply for funding for vehicles, mobility management projects, or operating expenses to expand mobility for older adults and people with disabilities. Virtual training sessions -  mandatory for new applicants and optional for returning applicants - are scheduled for May 5 or 7. If you have questions or wish to sign up for a training, contact Jenna Henning.

Updates related to COVID-19
For up-to-date information about a particular transportation service, please contact the transportation provider directly.

For general information, you may find useful information on these websites:

Some national organizations have also compiled resources related to transportation and mobility management:
MART launches microtransit service in Fitchburg
Riders in Fitchburg who need to get groceries, pick up a pharmacy prescription, or take other essential trips now have a new, on-demand option. Riders can book a ride through an app, online, or by phone, and can reserve trips in advance as well as in the moment. The Montachusett Regional Transit Authority (MART) has partnered with QRyde to operate this service. Currently, these trips are offered free of charge.
Volunteer driver program staff connect virtually
Staff who run volunteer driver programs met virtually to share updates on their program status and learn from each other's successes, challenges, and questions. The Massachusetts Volunteer Driver Program Network is a MassMobility initiative to offer volunteer transportation programs the opportunity to share their expertise with each other and benefit from peer learning. An in-person meeting scheduled for April 15 became two virtual meetings, one on April 7 and one on April 15. Participants discussed strategies for keeping volunteers engaged even while programs are suspended and opportunities to offer virtual training to onboard new volunteers, among other topics.

Altogether, approximately 25 program staff participated, representing Councils on Aging, Aging Service Access Points, and other organizations that run or hope to launch volunteer driver programs. Participants represented many regions of Massachusetts - from the Berkshires to the Cape - and three out-of-state representatives from New Hampshire, Maine, and Oklahoma also joined. If you run a volunteer driver program and would like to join the network's email list, please contact us.
Independent Living Centers  support students in learning to drive
Over February vacation,18 students with disabilities attended a one-week Learner's Permit program run by the Northeast Independent Living Program (NILP). Students spent their mornings studying the driver's manual. After a lunch break, students returned each afternoon to practice with a driving simulator. The PlayStation-based simulator includes a wheel as well as gas and brake pedals, and deducts points for a driver's mistakes.
"This all came from listening to our students," explains Rowan De Aza, Youth Services Program Manager at NILP. "We asked students what they need, what their goals are, and what independence means to them, and a lot of them said that they want their driver's license, but the learner's permit book is really hard. Some of them have learning disabilities or anxiety, so we got together and decided to run a driving support program." NILP piloted the program in 2019, and expanded it this year to serve more students and add the simulation component.
The first step for NILP was becoming experts in the content. A team of NILP staff split up the driver's manual by chapter. They studied their chapters, took practice tests posted on the RMV website, and developed app-based quizzes to support students in learning the content. They did everything they could to make the learning fun: "When you're having fun, it's hard to be nervous. When you're excited and not nervous, you can learn more," shares De Aza. NILP staff also worked to make the program accessible to all students, such as offering interpretation in ASL and Spanish, and helping students arrange rides to the program. NILP is currently supporting the participants in working toward their driver's licenses, and plans to offer this program again.
In addition to NILP, other Independent Living Centers also support youth with disabilities in getting their learner's permits and driver's licenses. The Southeast Center for Independent Living (SCIL) has a longstanding program that they regularly offer at partnering schools or at their office. Participants attend two hour-long sessions per week in which they study for the learner's permit test through a set curriculum that includes jeopardy-style games and practice exams. The class culminates with an RMV representative coming and administering the permit test onsite, with accommodations for those who need them. "It is a highly successful partnership on every level, with the schools, the RMV, the students, and their parents working together. The joy the kids have when they pass makes it so worth it!" shares Adam Young, Youth Supervisor at SCIL. In the last two years, over 100 participants have received their permit. The program is so popular that SCIL operates a waiting list, despite offering multiple sections concurrently.
National Center for Mobility Management visits Massachusetts
On February 13, National Center for Mobility Management (NCMM) Director Amy Conrick and colleague Kirby Wilhelm offered a one-day workshop in Palmer inviting stakeholders to share their views on mobility challenges in the region. This was one of three " issue-focused mobility meetings " that NCMM offered in February across the country, with communities chosen through a competitive application process. Twenty-eight representatives from senior centers, health care, local government, and transportation used human-centered design techniques to understand the complexities of mobility challenges and brainstorm solutions.
Conrick returned on March 10 and 12 to hold a Design Thinking workshop in Ware as part of the Quaboag Valley Community Development Corporation's collaborative efforts - supported by a one-year planning grant from the Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts - to develop a replicable, sustainable model for rural transportation to improve health outcomes and influence health and transportation policy. A small, cross-sector group of local, regional, and state-level stakeholders participated in a series of facilitated exercises designed to elicit creative ideas steeped in the experiences, needs, and preferences of local residents who would benefit from increased mobility options. In future steps, the group will conduct assumptions testing and prototyping exercises to narrow down and test their ideas. To learn more about Design Thinking and how it can support community transportation, check out NCMM's Creating Innovative Transportation Solutions free online training.
Also on March 10, NCMM Partner Director Dr. Judy Shanley came to Lowell to present as part of a New England-wide gathering on how community transportation programs and policies can help lift families out of poverty. Convened by the federal Administration for Children and Families, the forum was part of the Whole Family Approach to Jobs initiative to support states in taking a two-generation approach to workforce development. Attendees represented five states and a range of sectors, including health and human services and transportation. After a keynote from Shanley, participants shared promising developments from their states - including DTA transportation pilots in Framingham and Worcester - and broke into small groups to reflect on what they were learning.
New reports
The Shared-Use Mobility Center has compiled a status update on how COVID-19 is affecting transit, micromobility, and ride-hailing.

In March, MAPC published their recommendations for age-friendly housing and transportation strategies for the MAGIC subregion.

A January report from the Shared-Use Mobility Center and the National Center for Mobility Management discusses policies and practices for promoting access to on-demand transportation for riders with disabilities. The report includes a short case study highlighting the MBTA.
MassDOT cancels MArtap driver training sessions through May 4
MassDOT has cancelled all MArtap driver training sessions that were scheduled through May 4. For the most up-to-date information about MArtap classes, visit the  MArtap website  or subscribe to the  MArtap newsletter .
Contribute to national research
The National Center for Mobility Management is seeking information from organizations whose transportation programs address social isolation among older adults. They are also interested in hearing directly from older adults.

The National Aging and Disability Transportation Center is looking for examples of transportation coordination and partnerships to showcase. Fill out their survey to share your coordination successes.
HST Office extends procurement deadline
The procurement for Non-Emergency Human Service Transportation Broker Services has been updated. The deadline has been extended to June 26, due to the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak, and additional documents have been posted. For details, refer to bid BD-20-1039-EHS01-EHS01-46229 on COMMBUYS.
Recall affects E-type vehicles

Attention owners of E-type vehicles model year 2009 through 2016! The Ford Motor Company has issued a no-charge Customer Satisfaction Program 19B40 repair notification. Keep an eye out for service action letters, which Ford mailed in March to eligible vehicle owners.
Job posting
The Worcester Regional Transit Authority is hiring a travel trainer.
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