Thursday, June 24, 2010

Resources and Events to Make Livability and Accessibility Happen

I admit to being early on the smart growth bandwagon and happy to see the concept morph into the more-inclusive livability/sustainability collaboration that is the inter-agency Partnership for Sustainable Communities, among the Department of Transportation (DOT), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). From what I hear, the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Department of Agriculture (USDA) are also coordinating with the partnership at various levels.

The current manual of funding sources among the partnership agencies is Leveraging the Partnership: DOT, HUD, and EPA Programs for Sustainable Communities. Many of the sources can be used for transit and other mobility options, including designing a street scape that improves access to buses, vanpool meeting areas, trains and biking facilities.

Since our transportation technical assistance (TA) centers have been involved with livability since before the term was invented, many of us are educating our constituencies about livability resources that will bring and enhance transit service and transportation options to communities across the country.

Upcoming Livability-Related Events among the TA Centers

National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL): Livability 101 Pre-conference on July 25, 2010, right before the Legislative Summit in Louisville, Ky. The Transportation Committee will be concentrating as well on high-speed rail, the link between transportation and health, biking and rural road safety.

Easter Seals Project ACTION (ESPA): Forming Partnerships with Transit for human service providers, disability community advocates and private transportation providers – online from Aug. 2 to Sept. 10, 2010.

American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), American Public Transportation Association (APTA), and Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA): State Public Transit Partnerships Conference on Aug. 3-6, 2010 in Seattle will have a livability session.

Access and Universal Design

Livability encompasses availability of transportation options beyond the automobile. To include everyone in the benefits of livable community initiatives raises issues of universal design, rural access and specialized transportation. The following resources and events address those issues and their links to economic development, equitable access for transportation-challenged populations, and costs.

Easter Seals Project ACTION (ESPA) continues to assist the transit community to make people with disabilities welcome. A handy Transit Operator’s Pocket Guide informs drivers of their ADA responsibilities and etiquette for interacting with people with disabilities.

ESPA: Excellence in Service for Paratransit Managers - online from July 19 to Sept. 24, 2010.

Taxi, Limousine, and Paratransit Association (TLPA) releases Assessing the Full Cost of Implementing An Accessible Taxicab Program. The report discusses how the taxi industry works in terms of the practical obstacles and costs of providing accessibility where the additional costs fall on mostly small businesses and independent contractors.

Rural Accessibility

For rural transportation and economic development resources, the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) has a Rural Transportation Clearinghouse. Among the resources available are descriptions of how rural planning organizations operate in different states.

National Rural Public and Intercity Bus Transportation Conference on October 24-27, 2010, in Burlington, Vt. Conference sessions will include accessibility, rural transit policy and planning, alternative fuels, regional systems, networks and coalitions, and tribal transportation.

ADA Takes the Ferry

Finally, with a picture of the Staten Island Ferry, the Secretary of Transportation blogged on June 17 about extending ADA protection to maritime vessels, including public ferry service. Secretary LaHood "encourage[s] everyone to visit and get their two cents in on the important questions" outstanding about this ADA extension.

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