Thursday, August 5, 2010

News from State Public Transportation Partnerships Conference

Okay, I will try to write about the conference and not keep dreaming about living in Seattle so that I can spend more time in a beautiful city where you see seagulls and you can walk to the ballpark. I personally recommend the Ebbets Field Flannels store. (Yes, the owner and the salesperson are from Brooklyn, Park Slope in this case.)

What partnerships are everyone talking about? Every type of coordination has been mentioned, from collaboration with states Department of Justice to students from local colleges. Creative use of facebook, twitter, and bus roadeos are being discussed. Recommended for roadeo success were a barbecue at the roadeo and local radio station participation.

Tidbits of Useful Practices

1. Use of college students to advocate and campaign for transit funding and ballot measures. They use facebook in a viral way, which exponentially garners support.
2. Partnering at the local, state and federal way. These partnerships can mirror the federal sustainability partnership, work on traditional connections to human service agencies, and can involve everyone else.
3. Focus on how transit and mobility services help every constituency and agency. One example was coordination with a state Department of Corrections, which was motivated to sit at the proverbial table by the message that parolees are required to work, which necessitates transportation to work.
4. Work with business, people with disabilities, cyclists, environmentalists, and others on messages and service needs.

Who Is Here?

On hand at the conference are staff from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), the Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA), the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), Easter Seals Project ACTION, National RTAP, and the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).

No offense to the above entities, I do not think that anyone here would dispute that the most interesting information, comments and ideas have come from state players, people with local stories and advocates who have worked locally to support transit.

There is no question that despite the current economic and funding (or lack thereof) climate, ordinary people are looking for and want public dollars to pay for more transit service, whether for older adults, low-wage earners who work for and with those we care about, students, people with disabilities or those who wish to transition from a gas-guzzler lifestyle. Food for thought.

With that, I am getting hungry for that salmon dinner in the not-too-distant future, though my family's breakfast at Tea and Crumpet (complete with smoked salmon good enough for Zabars lovers) is also on my mind. Hope my stomach rumblings are not distracting my fellow conference attendees.

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