Friday, January 28, 2011

Public Health and Safety

American Public Health Association (APHA)
APHA studies the broad health impacts that result from different transportation choices. Its resources include an issue brief, the Hidden Costs of Transportation, about the health costs of an auto-dependent transportation system.

Of practical benefit to communities that are trying to sell transit, shared rides, and zero-emission mode (walking and biking) initiatives is APHA's fact sheet about Health Impact Assessments. The Health Impact Project has more information about how HIAs are used to inform decision making for different types of public works projects, including transit, transportation and planning.

[Multi-modal street scene in Portland, Ore.]

National Association of Regional Councils (NARC)
NARC joins with the Public Safety Alliance (PSA) in urging Congress to support public safety through legislation (S. 28) that will assist in the realization of a nationwide, interoperable public safety broadband network.

Emergency Mobility

Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA)
The FEMA Administrator blogs about using social media to fit people and not the agency. Some of the comments following the post are amazing, particularly the one about a man who is extremely disabled who used facebook to indirectly reach the fire department when his toaster threatened major disaster.

A blog writer talks about the importance to emergency recovery of walkable streets and services available locally, such as groceries. Ken Benfield quotes a discussion about the Brisbane, Australia flooding, comparing Brisbane's street network to Beirut's:
There is what you might call 'network redundancy' i.e. every few streets has a grocers, bakers, coffee shop, ironmongers, tailors etc. etc. This, as opposed to the centralised and consolidated model of western cities, most obviously visible in the out-of-town mall accessed by car, with all the apparent economies of scale that entails. Yet the former is actually more resilient, for sure. ... It would have been better to have been in a place with a walkscore of something approaching 100 (see But there is nothing around us, barely pavements, and now the connecting infrastructure of roads is so easily compromised.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Regional Planning and Collaboration

National Association of Development Organization (NADO)
The NADO Research Foundation and RPO America are hosting a webinar on Feb. 15 showcasing the work of two award-winning organizations on rural and small metropolitan alternative transportation. One of the presentations will focus on rural travel demand management via a website and outreach materials that address transportation options throughout the region.

From RPO America's twitter feed: RPO America & NADO Guidelines and applications are now out for two National Endowment for the Arts initiatives that are available to support rural communities through community design and creative placemaking activities.

National Transit Institute (NTI)
NTI has upcoming classes in ADA paratransit eligibility, vehicle procurement and technology for rural transportation services. Information is available at

Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations (AMPO)
AMPO posts its Fall Newletter, which, somehow, I missed previously. It has articles about sustainable performance measures for transportation, including regional metrics as well as measurement systems that include transit, walking and biking. Examples from Portland, Ore., and Northern New Jersey are multi-modal.

Not Reading the Tea Leaves - Yet

I have been avoiding paying too much attention to the occasional statements about when we are likely to see real movement with transportation reauthorization because, frankly, I want to pay attention when the meat is being discussed. However, my eyes opened wide when the President put himself out on a limb for long-distance public transportation in his State of the Union address and it is intriguing that Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood quoted the address in his blog to emphasize the President's commitment to high speed rail.
Within 25 years, our goal is to give 80% of Americans access to high-speed rail, which could allow you to go places in half the time it takes to travel by car. For some trips, it will be faster than flying. As we speak, routes in California and the Midwest are already underway.
What are the prospects for such a bold transportation plan? What are the implications for reauthorization and for local public and human services transportation? Perhaps those tea leaves deserve some attention.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Winter Hibernation: Cuddle Up with Blueprint America Series and Economic Development Opportunities

Blueprint America, the PBS series about infrastructure in the United States, has some videos and reports archived that provide some interesting watching and reading for transit geeks. There are reports about competing ideas about what infrastructure to invest in, what type of transportation will create job growth, and mobility options that promote public health.

With some popcorn, a blanket and some hot chocolate, this might serve constitute work on one of those upcoming snow days - not that I would personally do that. Confession: Yes, I already watched one infrastructure documentary on a work-at-home day, but that was during lunch (soup, if I remember correctly).

Economic Development

Community Transportation Association of America
The Rural and Tribal Passenger Transportation Technical Assistance Programs are inviting applications for long-term technical assistance projects. These projects help rural communities enhance economic growth and development by improving passenger transportation services and facilities. Technical assistance provides planning to support transit service improvements and expansion, system start-up, facility development, development of marketing plans and materials, transportation coordination, training and other public transit problem solving activities. Technical Assistance is provided by CTAA staff and consultants and involves on-site and off-site work conducted over a period of eight to twelve months. No local match is required. Information is available at

National Association of Regional Councils (NARC)
On Feb. 8, 2011, at the 2011 Good Jobs Green Jobs Conference, NARC and its Pathways Out of Poverty project team will present a workshop on the importance of partnerships in regional workforce and economic development programs, entitled “Partnerships and Pathways: Keys to Success in Regional Green Jobs Training and Placement.” This will be a forum for sharing ideas and strategies for building a green economy that creates good jobs, reduces global warming and other environmental problems, and secures America’s economic and environmental future.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

AARP Report Shows Long-Term Care Concerns

As we are all well aware, transportation - whether transit, paratransit, taxis or other services - allow people who are disabled or who are old and fragile to remain in their homes, continuing to live in their communities. AARP's new public policy report, Weathering the Storm: The Impact of the Great Recession on Long-Term Services and Supports tracks increased demand and, in some states, reduced expenditures for transportation and other long-term care services and supports (known as LTSS).

Many of these services and supports involve transportation, such as meals on wheels and other food delivery, as well as congregate meals, adult day care, medical appointments, shopping, chore services and personal care. Though spending is down for most LTSS, large increases are seen for meals services, both home delivered and congregate.

State-by-state profiles are available at the bottom of the linked page. A compilation of all of the state profiles is an easy way to review the spectrum of state financial conditions and impacts on services nationwide.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Partnering to Multiply Benefits of Transit

Two publications are being distributed that demonstrate partnering across funding streams and types of public and private works. These partnerships have multiple benefits for communities.

Community Transportation Association of America
CTAA's current issue of Community Transportation Magazine focuses on examples of partnerships for coordination, whether among transit and long-distance systems, in the case of San Francisco's planned new terminal (said to rival Grand Central Station) or a transit hub in Spearfish, S.D., or among human service agencies and public transit, such as in Massachusetts. The issue profiles Cape Cod's employment of technology to assist transit and for rider information and scheduling. The issue also covers Institutes for Coordination, complete streets and ride sharing models.

(As for any station competing with Grand Central, first visit Grand Central at 8:30 on any particular sunny morning with streams of light falling across the station and then tell me whether another facility can rival the beauty of this New York landmark. The answer might be yes, in which case there will be a new place to inspire us all.)

Putting Money into Transit-Oriented Development

Reconnecting America
The latest Reconnecting America TOD publication, 2010 Inventory of TOD Programs, covers federal, state and local funding for TOD. The report does not examine any other type of TOD inducements, such as zoning changes or partnerships with transit. Most of the TOD programs mentioned seek to capitalize on existing transit rather than developing transit and residential or commercial projects in conjunction with one another. Reconnecting America announces that TOD programs are on the rise, with many interested communities seeking advice from existing program personnel.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Technical Assistance Resources

Joblinks Continues with Mobility Management for Employment Transportation

The Joblinks Employment Transportation Center at the Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA)has an upcoming webinar on Jan. 19 about using mobility management strategies for job access needs. A previous webinar on this topic is archived at

New Resources for Rural Transportation

The National Rural Transit Assistance Program (RTAP) releases its revised Emergency Procedures for Rural Transit Drivers training module, which contains a learner’s Guide, a self-paced eLearning course disc, an instructor’s guide, a disc with videos and a trainer’s PowerPoint presentation. These materials can be covered in a single day or over a series of days. The module is presented in stand-alone units designed to meet a multitude of transit agency requirements. It can be used in a classroom setting or by a single student, and is appropriate for both new and experienced transit drivers.

The training guide is also helpful for those who need an overview of emergency types, preparation procedures and responses.

RTAP also announces the relaunch of its peer network by adding mentors as participants. "Mentors are classified as peer participants who engage in long term technical assistance projects." The peer network is now also connected to the National RTAP Resource Center Library. More information is available at

Driver Transition Resource in Development

If you have not experienced the transition of a parent or other person close to you from life as a driver to the next step, know that this is an emotional and significant step. For some families this is a smooth transition, but for others there are months or years of worry that a loved one or a stranger will pay the cost of delaying a difficult and unwanted intervention. Having been the recipient of calls about such accidents, fortunately without terrible consequences, I point out the following new resource being developed by the National Center on Senior Transportation. (NCST is a technical assistance center administered by Easter Seals Inc., in partnership with the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging.)

NCST is funding a research project aimed at understanding how older adults think and feel about the mobility transitions in aging. The project has resulted in the production of a tool that will aid mobility counselors and social service professionals to assist older adults and their families to prepare for aging-related changes in mobility. The goal is to promote effective planning for the future and possible transitions.

Contact Lucinda Shannon at for more information or to participate as an organization with mobility counselors serving older adults to assist in expanded utilization of the tool.

Technical Assistance News

Today, the NRC Technical Assistance News covers the blogs of the United We Ride Ambassadors and a new monthly NRC Director's column from none other than Chris Zeilinger.

Mobility Management Story

College towns tend to be harbingers of likely developments because what students have they expect in other places after graduation. In this case, University of Toledo students will have the opportunity to use a pre-paid taxi card. The card idea was a bit of a compromise because the taxi credit card technology would not accept the student debit cards, though that will probably be coming soon to some college town. The card system will notify students when balances go below $20 and the college is pushing for more taxi stands. A commercial enterprise is paying for the cards with the bargain of advertising on them. University officials hope that intoxicated students will pose less of a danger to themselves and others. The goal is that taxi availability and ease is one step toward putting the campus on the young, hip, and urban map.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Making the Most of Transit

The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) has added a mobility management page to its website. In addition to explaining what mobility management means for APTA's membership of transit agencies across the country, the site has articles that explain the business case for this approach and why partnerships, a customer focus and a reduced emphasis on "rolling stock" are in the interests of communities and transit.

The National Endowment for the Arts published a report on Creative Placemaking, that includes use of art in transit infrastructure. Though the report is not primarily transit oriented, it makes the case to communities, planners, and transit staff that public art enhances the value of all types of public works projects.

Who is the guy standing outside the subway station at Metro Center? It's Abe Lincoln letting people know about Nationals games, where he races a few fellow past presidents.

Resources for Transportation-Challenged Populations

Children’s Health Fund (CHF)
CHF has presentations and publications that discuss transportation as a critical link to health care for people with low incomes. Information about CHF's positions regarding health care legislative issues are also available.

Easter Seals Project ACTION is currently accepting applications for the 2011 Accessible Transportation Coalitions Initiative.

This initiative helps communities ready to tackle accessible transportation challenges and engage local leaders in the process. Ten communities across the United States will be selected to participate in the Accessible Transportation Coalitions Initiative (ATCI), a one-year systems change process designed to improve accessible transportation options for people with disabilities. In order to be considered, the completed application must be submitted on or before January 31, 2011.

ESPA is also conducting an online survey about the connection between hospital discharge planning and access to appropriate transportation options.