On October 30, 2019, the Central Florida RPC and the Heartland Regional Transportation Planning Organization hosted the Heartland Mobility Forum in Lake Placid, Florida. The event brought together more than 50 elected officials, non-profit organizations, agencies, and concerned citizens to address mobility in the rural six-county area, including DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, and Okeechobee counties. In over 5,000 square miles, only two circulator fixed-route transit systems are available. The community transportation coordinators aim to meet the transit needs of the community through door-to-door services utilizing the limited Transportation Disadvantaged funding and rural public transit funding.
Florida Commission for the Transportation Disadvantaged Executive Director David Darm spoke on the future of coordinated transportation, and the two Community Transportation Coordinators that serve the region shared the progress made in the 2018/19 year. Then, attendees engaged in discussions exploring critical needs, barriers, and future possibilities. Informed by the forum, the Central Florida RPC will focus on enhancing communications, customer service, and partnerships as the cornerstones of the Council's Mobility Program in 2020.
The event concluded as staff unveiled HeartlandRides.org. Designed to be easy to use, the website and find-a-ride resource will provide riders with the options that are available to them and connect them to services and programs that may enhance their mobility.