Monday, March 28, 2011

Social Media and Creative Advocacy

Jewish Federations of North America
For those interested in the non-profit world, JFNA keeps a non-profit blog list on its website. Scroll down to the last list on the page. Some of the non-profit blogs focus on social media and technology, others on philanthropy and advocacy.

National Head Start Association

NHSA has begun an advocacy campaign, Hands-In for Head Start, which is an old-fashioned "contact your congressman" campaign" with a twist. The twist is that Head Start pre-schools are creating murals representing their classes with childrens' handprints and names; on the bottom is written the total number of children "in the classroom/agency, with the name of the classroom/agency, and where it is located." Parents are encouraged to give the murals to members of Congress and the Senate with suggestions for talking points, press releases, photographs and videos.

National Association of Development Organizations

NADO's technical assistance center, RPO America, tweets a link to a New York Times mapping of Census data. Beware: this is cool and will distract you. Colors are wonderfully used. Okay, yes, I looked first at Brooklyn, that's Kings County, by the way, but you can see such places as Holt County, Nebraska and Chaves County, New Mexico.

Local Stories

Long commutes across county lines see the Ohio State University offer vanpools and guaranteed parking and ride homes for vanpoolers who sometimes need a more flexible option. Read about this other vanpool activity in Licking County, Ohio. Thanks to the Joblinks twitter feed for the link. Follow at JobTransInfo. (Joblinks is a technical assistance center at the Community Transportation Association of America.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Older Adults: Challenges of Individual and Public Health

National Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities
NASUAD posts a report with case studies and information about overcoming the barriers to preventive and diagnostic health services for older adults. One of the main barriers identified is transportation. Enhancing Use of Clinical Preventive Services Among Older Adults Closing the Gap gives one intriguing example from New England of co-locating influenza vaccinations with mammograms and providing free transportation.

National Association of Area Agencies on Aging

N4A provides a link to 2011 Alzheimer’s Disease: Facts and Figures, which supplies of plethora of detail about the care that a person needs when suffering with Alzheimer's or other type of dementia. Transportation is mentioned as one need, but this report goes into the home, as it were, to give a picture of the labor intensive, daily tasks that such individuals cannot do without assistance.

Mobility Management

Read mobility management and public participation stories from around the country in the NRC Technical Assistance News. There is truly amazing energy out there for mobility management and coordination.

To learn about mobility management from around the country, attend the Mobility Management Conference on June 6-7, 2011 in Indianapolis. The conference is a collaborative effort of the Partnership for Mobility Management. Plenary sessions will focus on partnerships, for financial sustainability, crossing jurisdictional lines and achieving other goals. Breakout sessions will address specific projects, such as one-call services, medical transportation, livability and employment transportation. A full list is available at


The National Association of Regional Councils NARC) will be hosting a webinar about emergency preparedness lessons learned from Japan's multi-dimensional disasters that occurred one on top of each other. Sudden Emergency: An Insight into Japan's State of Emergency will be held today, March 23, at 3 p.m. ET.

The Administration on Aging (AoA) is hosting a webinar, Care Transitions in Action: From Hospital to Home in Two Communities, which will explore in depth care transitions partnerships between hospitals and area agencies on aging in two communities. Transportation issues are not specifically mentioned. The webinar will be held on March 30 at 2 p.m. ET.

National Council on Independent Living

NCIL Annual Conference - July 13-16, 2011 in Washington, D.C. The theme is Independence! Keeping our eyes on the prize.

A little background for our transportation work appears in an interesting article about the history of powering automobiles and transit from the Atlantic. Food for thought about energy distribution, marketing, and public relations.

Monday, March 21, 2011

On the Legislative Horizon for Transportation

American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials

AASHTO's newsletter covers the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee's budget views and estimates for the next fiscal year. AASHTO's synopsis of the 30-page report was that the committee's message is to make do with less, adding that "[t]he document speaks in broad policy terms and does not provide recommended funding levels."

AASHTO correctly observes that while the committee is interested in the highway trust fund and the gap between revenue and funding needs, and addresses this issue specifically, the committee does not provide a detailed proposal of its own.

The T&I Committee offers its views about a few particular issues. The committee supports the Administration's proposal to streamline certain surface transportation programs. It recommends reducing the Essential Air Service program to rural areas due to near-empty flights. The committee particularly takes issue with Amtrak, its management and cost effectiveness, while announcing its acknowledgment of the importance of the Northeast Corridor to the nation's economic vitality.
[Flickr photo by Wally Gobetz. Sheepshead Bay, an express station on the BMT Brighton Line serving the B (formerly D) and Q lines, was opened in 1908.]

Regional Perspective on Transportation Policy and Spending

Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations
AMPO posts letters to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee from four planning organizations. The letters are from:
* Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Council of Governments in Oregon,
* Metropolitan Transportation Commission for the San Francisco Bay area,
* Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, and
* A Columbus, Ohio area partnership comprised of the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission, the Columbus Partnership, the Columbus Chamber, the Columbus Regional Airport Authority, and the Central Ohio Transit Authority.
The letters trumpet the importance of transportation, its infrastructure and transit to the nation's economy and to the vitality of regions.

Priorities of Counties

National Association of Counties
NACO's legislative conference concluded with new policy positions. These include opposition to proposed reductions in the Department of Agriculture's economic development program, community development block grants, and discretionary - non-military spending. NACO has a whole list of recommendations on environmental issues, with suggestions that county governments not suffer unfunded mandates. NACO supports the Administration's wireless innovations fund proposal. As for transportation, the only recommendation relates to roads that access or pass through certain federal lands.

NACO's 2011 legislative priorities include transportation reauthorization.
Congress should develop a comprehensive legislative effort to create jobs by providing robust funding for bridges, highways, mass transit, assistance for rural roads and other local infrastructure needs by reauthorizing the highway, transit, and safety programs. Congress should explore the various financing sources available to fully fund the Highway Trust Fund into the future while addressing metropolitan congestion and rural road safety. Enactment of these programs will help build our nation’s infrastructure and create additional employment opportunities.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Praise for Transit and Improving the Experience for People with Disabilities

Always a good day when you read about people and organizations you personally know. Today it is the American Public Transportation Association. I read many of Secretary LaHood's blog posts on the Fastlane. (Yes, I skip stuff related to airlines and anything on the water except for taxis and ferries.) Today, I find the Secretary praising APTA for its mission to "strengthen and improve public transportation,":
a goal this Department deeply believes in. This Administration has made transportation a priority--and affirmed that commitment, not just with words, but also with actions. President Obama’s 2012 budget proposal invests $129 billion in transportation. We’re talking about a 127% increase in support aimed at improving safety, service, and reliability.
After reviewing the proposed budget's transit priorities, Secretary LaHood spoke generally about the contributions of public transit, saying that "[p]ublic transportation connects Americans," takes them to airports, downtowns, jobs, essential services, education and shopping, while relieving congestion.
Every day in our cities and towns, transit workers are planning, building, maintaining, repairing and operating these vital systems. Here at DOT, we think that’s incredibly important.
The Secretary quoted from his speech at the APTA Legislative Conference.

People with Disabilities Invited to Rate Service

Speaking of public transit service, a former colleague, Judy Shanley, pointed me to a survey on the website of the Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access that requests people with disabilities to share their public transit experiences. Of course, I can never stop with the one recommended feature and explored the website further. There is information about and links to resources involving rural aging in place, naturally occurring retirement communities (NORCS), and universal design for housing.

Easter Seals Project ACTION points out that IDEA also has published a wheelchair users mobility report that includes new data on wheeled mobility devices people with disabilities use, including data about ease of use and navigating spaces. The report recommends that standards be revised to reflect body size and functional abilities of current wheelchair users.

Great Minds Think Alike

Two national parters, Easter Seals Project ACTION and the Taxi, Limousine and Paratransit Association pointed me to the big news that the Department of Energy (DOE) is loaning $50 million to develop a "six-passenger MV-1, a purpose-built wheelchair accessible vehicle that will run on compressed natural gas." According to DOE,
[The] MV-1 is the only factory-built light-duty vehicle to date that meets or exceeds the guidelines of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The vehicle features a deployable access ramp with a 1,200-pound weight capacity, a 36-inch entryway and an interior that accommodates up to six occupants with the optional jump seat, including one or two wheelchair passengers and the driver.
Getting to and Navigating Transit

Easter Seals Proejct ACTION
Webinar series - The Cutting Edge of Wayfinding Technology - Apr. 4 and 11 at 2 ET. The webinars will cover wayfinding technologies that help customers with disabilities navigate transit systems. The two sessions will discuss new technologies that are either available to the public or currently being researched. Visit ESPA's homepage for information about the organization's many events about accessibility, transportation, and improving transportation options for people with disabilities.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Events and Presentation Opportunities

American Public Health Association (APHA)
Midyear Meeting - June 23-25, 2011, in Chicago. The conference will focus on the implementation of health care reform.

National Association of Development Organizations (NADO)
Webinar - Social Media and Electronic Participation in Regional Planning and Economic Development - March 30 at 2 p.m. (ET). The webinar will include an overview of social media uses and demographics, as well as case studies of two regional planning and development organizations effectively using social media in their outreach.

Presentation Opportunities

Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations (AMPO)
AMPO is calling for presentation submissions for its 2011 Annual Conference. Visit The conference will be held October 25- 28, 2011 in Dallas, Texas. For more information email

National Association of Development Organizations (NADO)
NADO is seeking presentation ideas for the National Rural Transportation Conference, which will occur in Washington, DC, August 24 – 26, 2011. The deadline to submit a presentation abstract is April 15, and abstracts can be submitted online at The conference is typically attended by regional transportation planning professionals and stakeholders, including from rural and small metro areas served by RPOs and small MPOs, and covers issues relating to all modes of transportation.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Societal Changes: Transportation for the Future and the Culture of the Government Workplace

American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)
AASHTO posts its illuminating collection of comments about what members of the public are hoping to see in our nation's future transportation system. The outreach effort has attracted over 200 comments and more than 24 youtube videos. AASHTO is posting both a summary and the entirety of the comments. To view the ongoing public commentary, visit

View AASHTO's facebook page, AASHTO Speaks, for a very active and interactive informational resource.

Window into the (Home) Workplace

Association for Commuter Transportation (ACT)
ACT links to information about the Status of Telework in the Federal Government, a report to Congress about teleworking patterns for 2009. The Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) announces that "increasing the strategic use of telework is a high priority for President Obama and OPM," and candidly acknowledges that federal agencies have a long way to go in utilizing telework.

So why am I reading and writing about a report that discusses avoidance of travel? Transportation solutions to national challenges, in this case congestion, emissions, and even crowding on public transit, can include, as a part of the pie of solutions, less travel - assuming that those who telework do not use single occupancy vehicles for a bunch of additional trips on days worked at home. Also, the federal government is a major employment presence; its policies are the standard in DC and are considered instructive for other large institutions. In a town where snow prevents us from moving around and schools are closed for days, telework keeps the government working in emergencies.

In this day of instant communications, do we really all need to be at the office everyday? We have anecdotes and opinions, but the report has statistics. In the federal workforce, already 10 percent telework regularly, 12 percent occasionally and 23 percent are not permitted to telework though their jobs are amenable to such an arrangement. (Please note that due to data collection methods, these numbers are a snapshot, but are not exact.) Only 36 percent report a need to be physically present at the workplace to do their work. Obviously, a cafeteria worker or law enforcement officer cannot work from home.

Interestingly, in the lead are independent agencies, both large and small. Though the numbers of teleworkers tended to be older and have more years of experience, the percentages are fairly even across age groups and with minor differences for men and women. Maybe I just enjoy reading reports, but I found the statistics for workplace satisfaction interesting. The one cultural shift that OPM identified as needed to encourage teleworking is to increase the numbers of managers and supervisors who telework.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

American Public Transportation Association (APTA)
APTA reports rising savings for using public transit (and walking or biking) instead of owning a car. Currently, the national average stands at "$9,904 annually and $825 per month based on the March 4, 2011 average national gas price ($3.47 per gallon-reported by AAA) and the national unreserved monthly parking rate." The savings are more impressive in the nation's largest - and most transit-rich cities - with savings of over $14,000 in New York and over $10,000 in Denver. Prices in metropolitan areas and other regions are not assessed; suburban and rural equivalents of the savings rates are not available.

In this same vein, the APTA savings report is featured in a CBS News story about the financial rationale for using transit, on the one hand, and, on the other, the revenue squeeze on transit that has prompted systems to reduce service and/or increase fares.

Public Participation: Not Necessarily Boring

If you are looking to promote public participation in transit promotion, planning and advocacy, view this creative video from Detroit, which uses legos and music to discuss the street configuration for the planned Woodward Ave. line.

Thanks to Chris Zeilinger, Director of the National Resource Center for Human Service Transportation Coordination (NRC) for finding the video material.

The Utah Transit Authority is promoting and using twitter to hear from its customer base about their preferences for service hours and routes. Although the transit system is also employing traditional public hearings and now old-fashioned email as well, management has respect for the thoughtful, quality 140-character (and fewer) tweets they have received.

Livability Goes Local

National Association of Counties
From NACo's newsletter:
NACo will seek input from members about implementing federal livability goals through a new project led by the National Association of Regional Councils (NARC), with support from U.S. Department of Transportation. The two-year project is intended to assist localities in building the governance, strategies and tools needed to create and implement regional transportation plans that support sustainable development. NARC and NACo will partner to offer listening sessions at upcoming NACo conferences.
Contact: James Davenport • 202.661.8807

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Policies and Funding for Rural and Coordinated Transportation Options

Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA)
CTAA has on its homepage a collection of materials that declare the benefits of rural transportation services, including rural public transit, and an explanation of the history and scope of Medicaid's non-emergency transportation (NEMT) benefit.

American Bus Association
ABA responds to the Obama Administration's recommendation for funding to develop a high-speed rail network with a reminder that intercity bus travel is a far less expensive form of long-distance publicly-available transportation.

Quoting from the ABA publication, the Insider, the association declares:
"We're asking lawmakers to invest in motorcoach transportation," said ABA President and CEO, Peter J. Pantuso, CTIS. "Even under the best circumstances, a high-speed rail network will not become a reality for years. Motorcoaches are here today. We cost a tiny fraction of what high-speed rail will cost. We are environmentally friendly, and we provide service to rural Americans that high-speed rail will never be able to reach. When you look at all of that, it just makes sense to go with the motorcoach."

The Insider article emphasizes the importance of motorcoach service to rural Americans. Bus service still covers a much greater proportion of rural residents than current or projected train lines.

Detailed Look at Coordination of Government Programs

In his NRC Capitol Clips post on March 4, Chris Zeilinger, the Director of the National Resource Center for Human Service Transportation Coordination (NRC), does a terrific job of summarizing and examining the findings of the recent Government Accountability Office report, Opportunities to Reduce Potential Duplication in Government Programs, Save Tax Dollars, and Enhance Revenue. The blog finds in the report strong evidence to support coordination of government services. The report is well worth reading and transportation coordination is addressed at pages 48-50, which will appear as 53-55 in your pdf toolbar, and discussion of coordination for the transportation-challenged appears at 134-138 (appearing as 139-143).

Speaking of coordination, I read an interesting opinion blog in the New York Times online edition about coordination to improve education for low-performing public school systems. Coming Together to Give Schools a Boost talks about strong coordinating organizations and partners with clear goals and a focus on performance measures. I will not say that the strategies mentioned should be transferred to transit and transportation services, but the model is worth considering for its comprehensiveness and the honest assessment of its proponents that new methods were needed.