Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Dec. 15: Colloquium on Multi-Modal Livability

Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010
9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

American Public Transportation Association
1666 K St NW, Suite 1100
Washington, D.C.

A gathering of members of the National Consortium on the Coordination of Human Services Transportation and technical assistance providers to discuss models of multi-modal partnerships that promote livability. Our speakers represent different modes, perspectives, and the partnerships made to create livable, multi-modal communities.

Please come prepared to share your organization's livability priorities and concerns. We will produce a top 5 list of the most important aspects of livability.
Please bring and share materials about what is going on at your organization.
We welcome your participation.

RSVP by Dec. 10. to Sheryl Gross-Glaser at grossglaser@ctaa.org or 202.386.1669.

New Resource

The Association for Commuter Transportation (ACT)has launched a newsletter, Caryn's Corner, named for Executive Director Caryn Souza. The current issue has news about federal transportation funding opportunities, the DC bikesharing program, and a Georgia vanpool incentive for commuters.

Ideas for a Sustainable, Multi Modal Transportation System

The American Bus Association (ABA) posts a link to a report of the Mobility Choice Coalition, of which ABA is a member. Taking the Wheel: Achieving a Competitive Transportation Sector Through Mobility Choice discusses the history and biases of current transportation infrastructure and policy, with recommendations for a multi-modal future that incorporates the public and private sectors.

Recommendations include:
* Transparent pricing - paying for the road services one uses;
* Fair allocation of costs based on use, savings of oil and damage to roadways;
* Moving authority for decision making to metropolitan level with national performance standards - to encourage more competition among mode choices; and
* Technology upgrades for a more efficient system.

A Menu of Suggestions

Though the report calls for transparent pricing, it includes only transportation costs and not many of the external costs of a car-dependent lifestyle, such as public health consequences. It does call for mileage-based insurance premiums to account for the high rate of injury and death that automobile travel results in and the increasing odds of accidents that come along with increases in mileage. Among the strategies mentioned are congestion pricing, HOT lanes, truck-only lanes, fees to reflect oil's national security costs, telecommuting, high-speed and inter-city rail, transit vouchers for low-income riders, apportioning transit dollars for realizing fuel savings through high-load routes and modes, and changing land-use rules to satisfy demand for mixed-use walkable communities.

The coalition estimates that by 2030, the recommended strategies could save 779 million barrels, "or more than 10 percent of projected on-road oil consumption." The estimates are based on "the Department of Energy’s Annual Energy Outlook (AEO) 2010, and includes all of AEO’s assumptions regarding vehicle miles of travel (VMT) and vehicle fuel efficiency to 2030."

DC's Sustainability Plan

The Department of Transportation for Washington, D.C., the equivalent of a state department of transportation that also has jurisdiction over local roads, releases its Sustainability Plan 2010, which promotes transit, biking and walking and seeks to reduce energy consumption.

In the section about linking land use to transportation, the plan announces that "[t]he program revitalizes major urban corridors by improving transportation options, increasing streetscape attractiveness and attracting businesses and residents to the area. It also provides environmental benefits through smarter and more efficient use of land resources."

In terms of its strong endorsement of a multi-modal approach, the program is progressing with:

* Expanding and increasing transit services, such as designing and constructing a streetcar system and a water-taxi system.
* Developing multimodal transportation projects that consider roadway, pedestrians, bicyclists and transit improvements.
* Implementing TDM strategies, such as car sharing, carpool, vanpool, transit subsidies and parking management programs.

The plan also covers economic and social justice impacts. It envisions itself as a tool to spur economic activity and to save on infrastructure costs. It also seeks, without concrete details, to equitably serve low-income communities.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Buses: Cuts and Expansions

The Amalgamated Transit Union has posted articles about proposals for transit service reductions across the country. The mayor of Jackson, Miss., is calling for ending Saturday service and laying off JATRANS employees. Disability advocates are opposing the cuts. A 35 percent cut in service, as well as fare increases, might be coming to Pittsburgh - eliminating service to 50 neighborhoods. And in Washington, D.C., proposed reductions threaten to affect 70 routes, impacting 400,000 riders.

Not Cutting Everywhere

The American Bus Association posts articles about the resurgence of the bus industry. Megabus, providing low-cost, high-quality service to major East Coast cities, is adding routes to Southeast destinations, such as Richmond, Va., Knoxville, Tenn. and Raleigh, N.C. It is also adding direct service between Washington, D.C., and Boston. The bus company, along with others like it, requires tickets purchased online and offers free Internet service. It does not have stations. Ridership has increased by 50 percent this year.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Responses to the Budget Cutting Proposal

The co-chairs of the bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, former Clinton White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles and retired Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.), recently issued detailed draft recommendations and a PowerPoint summary explaining their plan to significantly cut the federal budget and reduce the national debt.

Presumably, every national organization is considering the election's results and many have internally reviewed last week's budget proposal, which appears to be a first offer. This is a summary of explanations of the proposal and responses by national organizations involved with transportation and human services:

National Association of Regional Councils (NARC):
NARC offers a synopsis with an explanation of the Commission's genesis and work, a very brief run-down of the recommendations and a list of specifics about transportation and economic development funding and revenues. The synopsis links to the PowerPoint and list of recommendations.

American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO): AASHTO covered the recommendations in a Nov. 12 newsletter article. Discussed was the proposed 15-cent increase in the gas tax. The article also covers another proposal for raising the tax by 25 cents. AASHTO's plan for modernizing transportation is available at http://expandingcapacity.transportation.org/.

American Public Transportation Association (APTA): APTA reviewed the proposal in its Nov. 12 newsletter. The article pointed out the recommended 15-cent increase in the gas tax. APTA is supporting the increase.

After the Election - Organizations Explain Changes

The National Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities (NASUAD): Summary of the election's results for Congress, statehouses and state legislatures. The summary goes into detail about implications for health care, supports for older Americans, and state government personnel.

National Association of Regional Councils (NARC):
NARC prepared a summary of the election and changes in Congressional leadership significant to regional planning organizations.

The National Disability Institute offered its opinion on what the election will mean.

National Conference of State Legislatures
(NCSL): NCSL provides NCSL Fiscal Brief: State Balanced Budget Provisions, which explains what is meant by a balanced budget, to which funds state constitutional and statutory provisions apply and what enforcement mechanisms exist. Interesting is how varied balanced budget requirements are. This not a one-size-fits-all term.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Resources: Accessibility and Health Reform

The Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL) has posted an outpatient accessibility form and guidebook, the Outpatient Health Care Usability Profile V4, for health care facilities. The form is a self-assessment that quickly generates a picture of accessibility for any type of building and could be used beyond the health care field. It covers accessibility to bathrooms, elevators, hallways, ramps to the building entrance, among others. However, the guidebook only discusses federal requirements; state and local regulations may be more stringent. Transportation to the facility - an assessment of whether transit, taxi service or other services are available - is not mentioned, but could be added.

For information about ADA paratransit eligibility, the National Transit Institute has a course on this topic and Easter Seals Project ACTION has an upcoming series of distance learning classes about ADA paratransit.

Health Care Reform

The Children’s Health Fund has posted a link to the video of the Kaiser Family Foundation's event last week, What Does the Election Mean for Health Reform and Other Health Issues?

For information on what states must accomplish and are doing to fulfill the mandates of the new health care law, the National Governors' Association (NGA) has created a website, the Health Reform Implementation Resource Center, a product of the State Consortium on Health Care Reform Implementation (State Consortium), which provides information and technical assistance to states about requirements, offers options and best practices and synthesizes feedback to federal agencies on issues that affect state implementation. The website has resources on aspects of the health reform law that are likely to have the biggest effect on states – the Medicaid expansion, the establishment of health insurance exchanges, insurance regulations, and delivery system initiatives, along with important governance, coordination and timing issues for states are available from NGA and on each of the Consortium members' websites.

The four consortium organizations are: National Governors Association (NGA), including the NGA Center for Best Practices, National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), National Association of State Medicaid Directors (NASMD), and National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP).

Health care guidance for individuals is available from AARP. It's health reform fact sheets offer information about a wide range of changes and implications for consumers, particularly older adults.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Resource Update: Planning, Livability, Economic Downturn

The National Association of Regional Councils (NARC) and the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (N4A) are hosting a webinar, Aging & Livable Communities, on November 15. The webinar will explore how the aging population is incorporated into comprehensive regional planning and implementation. This discussion will highlight lessons learned and offer recommendations for how regional planning organizations and Area Agencies on Aging can work together to achieve tangible results. For information, visit https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/434008555.

Easter Seals Project ACTION
offers the ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members: Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy, produced with the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), a primer on transit's responsibility in realizing the goals of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the legal obligations that the ADA established. The publication addresses traditional fixed-route service and transit facilities, but does not discuss deviated route or other types of service to which the ADA does not apply and impose standards. It also provides information about federal transportation initiatives related to the ADA, such as United We Ride.

NARC has also posted a presentation about significant changes in Congress, specifically shifts in leadership and priorities in both the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives.

What Is an MPO?

The Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations (AMPO) has posted a report from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The report was produced with assistance from staff at AMPO, NARC, the National Association of Development Organizations and other national planning associations. It is a terrific nuts and bolts detailed description of Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), their staffs, projects, funding, partnerships and formal arrangements with state and local governments.

Demographics and Population Needs

Though we hear news that the recession is over, it takes a long while sometimes after a downturn before people's financial circumstances bounce back. The following two reports discuss how people at both ends of the age spectrum are still suffering. The third examines demographic data about other indicators.

Young Child Poverty in 2009: Rural Poverty Rate Jumps to Nearly 29 Percent in Second Year of Recession
goes region by region and then state by state to give the numbers on child poverty. The publication also separates out the differences in each state for urban, rural and suburban areas. The numbers for child poverty provide a snapshot of where family poverty is concentrated and where poverty is increasing.

Older Americans 2010: Key Indicators of Well-Being offers data about income, physical and cognitive abilities, medical care, housing and more among the 45+ population. This is broken down so that information is easily available about those over 65, 75 and 85. The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (N4A) produced the report.

American Community Survey briefs, products of the Census Bureau, report on public transportation usage, education, income and public assistance. This is valuable data in an easy format to keep track of demographic trends.

Accomplishments of the Sustainability Partnership

A Year of Progress for American Communities summarizes the achievements and philosophy of the Administration's Partnership for Sustainable Communities. The report briefly explains the links among housing, the environment, economic development and transit-oriented communities for people of all ages and income levels. Concise case studies are included.

Livability in Transportation Guidebook: Planning Approaches that Promote Livability is a good companion to the previously mentioned partnership publication. This report offers in-depth case studies that highlight policy and programmatic shifts to promote and design livable communities.

Rebuilding America: APA National Infrastructure Investment Task Force Report
presents the environmental and economic cases for the livability agenda of transit-oriented communities with bike and pedestrian-friendly streets as well as mobility choices. The report also examines the role of regional planning entities.

Easter Seals Project ACTION
has a new Livable Communities page on its website. Featured are ESPA's publications about accessible streets, transit, and universal design as well as links to government and other resources.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Emergency Evacuations

The newsletter of the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) , Rural Transportation News, announces two reports relevant to emergency evacuations in rural areas. Both are available at www.evacuationandtransportation.org. The newsletter gives an in-depth summary of the reports. One examines the capacity of transit and school buses to provide transportation during emergency evacuations in places like the Gulf Coast, where many rural residents do not have cars and hurricanes are a fact of life, making evacuations a seasonal routine. The report also covers coordination and communications.

The other report looks into workforce, operating budget, and communication in rural evacuations. The evacuations discussed n this publication involve moving people from urban areas into rural ones.

From the Archives

Here are some emergency management resources from my old newsletter, with valuable input from Kelly Shawn of the Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA).

National Resource Center for Human Service Transportation Coordination (NRC), housed at CTAA:
The NRC website has a page, Emergency Preparedness and Response, with many resources listed. These include materials about emergency evacuation, planning and reentry. Especially noteworthy is Evacuating Populations With Special Needs - Routes to Effective Evacuation Planning Primer Series and Transportation's Role in Emergency Evacuation and Reentry.

CTAA’s Emergency Management Resource Alert page has a wealth of resources listed that address specific vulnerable populations, coordination, rural areas, planning organizations, case studies and more. Also available from CTAA are the presentations from the 2008 Emergency Evacuation Conference.

Interagency Coordinating Council on Emergency Preparedness and Individuals with Disabilities:
This council has a host of materials, including a couple of items we developed at the NRC, on its web site at http://www.dotcr.ost.dot.gov/asp/emergencyprep.asp.

House Infrastructure and Transportation Committee summary of a hearing, U.S. Mayors Speak Out: Addressing Disasters in Cities about H.R. 3377, the Disaster Response, Recovery, And Mitigation Enhancement Act of 2009. (This legislation has not yet moved forward in either the House or the Senate.)

Future resources

Due out next year is TRB’s A-33 – Communication with Vulnerable Populations: A Transportation and Emergency Management Toolkit.
September 2011 – TCRP A-33: Communication with Vulnerable Populations: A Transportation and Emergency Management Toolkit. Interim report due out in September 2010.
October 2011 - TCRP A-37 [RFP]: Paratransit Emergency Preparedness and Operations Handbook
September 2012 (approximately) – TCRP A-36 [RFP]: Command-Level Decision Making for Transit Emergency Managers

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Mobility Management: Thinking Mulberry Street (NYC)

Last week I read a terrific synopsis of what mobility management aims for. Rich Weaver of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) was interviewed in the September issue of the National Center on Senior Transportation (NCST) newsletter and he gave concise summaries of the goals for mobility management and livability. (NCST is a technical assistance center administered by Easter Seals Inc., in partnership with the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging.) He described mobility management as promoting the partnership among "mobility providers," such as transit, vanpools, and other shared-ride services.

Mobility management is a concept that cuts across large and small communities. It looks beyond traditional fixed-route service and works to improve the operation of other transportation resources. Mobility management involves creating partnerships with transportation providers in a community or region to enhance travel options and then developing the means to effectively communicate those options to the public, including seniors.

Think Little Italy

To me, at least today, I am thinking of mobility management as akin to an association for a business district. The two restaurants on the street may be competitors in some sense, but if people don't know where they are, that the disctrict is a destination, or the special atmosphere and activities of the business district, then all the businesses suffer. So, too vanpools might be considered competition for fixed-route service, but not if each has its role in a family of transportation choices. (Or, as my niece was doing recently, taking the Metro someplace in the evening and then, on the way home, getting off at a station with taxis for the last mile.) As an example, if the streets are not pedestrian friendly, then no matter how much transit or other shared modes are environmentally friendly or economically enhancing, then people will not use them.

Mobility Management as a Connecting Concept

What does this have to do with the title of this post? How does mobility management connect to poverty, the environment and their ties to connectivity?

I am seeing reports right and left about changes needed to improve the environment and changes needed to address poverty. Authors of both types of publications are seeing the connection between transit and zero-emission modes (walking and biking) and the environment and equitable economic development. Also starting to happen and I would also like to see more is a more multi-modal approach that incorporates shared private transportation, such as vanpools, carpools and slugging, as well as taxis and flex car services. A few publications are even addressing how parking policies affect transportation choices.

Mobility management means partnering across modes and types of public interests. Just like the different types of businesses I am picturing from Little Italy, which banded together to create a brand that now attracts busloads of tourists and a few locals (okay once the tourists come, it's not cool anymore and New Yorkers, like high school kids, have moved on), fans of transit and alternative modes must band together to promote themselves as a family of services that provide environmentally friendly and economically-enhancing transportation options.

With all the Little Italy talk I am not nostalgic for Luna's, the old whole-in-the-wall restaurant that had zero atmosphere and amazing food. Plus, I feel proud to have successfully inserted a photo.