Monday, September 19, 2011

Emergency Preparedness Events & A Program for Older Workers

This small collection of resources and events do not focus on transporting people, but for the programs they cover, all necessitate somehow moving individuals, some frail, from one point to another. I think they show the critical role that mobility plays and the complications that ensue in difficult circumstances.

American Public Works Association
APWA is developing an emergency management peer network. It requests that members share their expertise about the different facets of emergency preparedness, response, mitigation, planning, and recovery. The "database will operate as an in-house listserv for APWA members who need advice or information on emergency management matters."

How to be FEMA Ready When Disaster Hits (Rebroadcast) - audio/web broadcast - Oct. 11, 2011 - Pointing out that within the last five years, every state has had at least one disaster declaration, APWA presents this program to help identify what should be ready before disaster strikes and what can be expected when dealing with FEMA after the disaster. Participants will learn how to justify the value of a good asset management system that gives quantifiable information to help identify the cost of bringing assets back into use and how to estimate the length of time and resources involved in the recovery process.

Coast Starlight - outside of LA
[In LA, Amtrak's Coast Starlight passes environmental message.]

Preparedness Considerations for Aging Americans - webinar - tomorrow, Sept. 20, 2011 -
This webinar will provide information about specific preparedness steps for Aging Americans. Speakers will include representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and leaders at the forefront of Aging American Preparedness. Advanced registration for this webinar is not required.

Impoverished, Working and Getting Old

National Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities
NASUAD releases a primer for the Senior Community Service Employment Program, which explains how the over-40-year-old program works. It is the only "federally mandated job training program that explicitly serves low-income adults, age 55 years and older." One of the family of services for which recipients may receive assistance is transportation. Tight restrictions on who is eligible exist, but the program provides individualized supports for recipients.
Supportive services commonly provided to the participant—either by the subgrantee or through referrals to other agencies—include transportation, legal assistance with access to a benefits specialists, subsidized housing, caregiver support, personal and financial counseling, health care, and medical services. Participants may also be offered rent and utility assistance, payment of reasonable costs for transportation and money for incidentals such as uniforms, shoes, badges, safety glasses, and tools.
Portland bus stop[Portland bus stop offers a high-tech, urban image.]

Friday, September 16, 2011

Not Just Vehicles: Access to Long-Term Care, Food Assistance & Mobility

American Public Human Services Association
APHSA's concerns about Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) closure of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) offices include transportation barriers. It sees technology as a solution. "[I]implementation of office closures that are accompanied by the appropriate alternative methods and technology could not only avoid negative effects but can very likely on balance improve access and integrity." APSHA is also objecting to an FNS requirement for the SNAP that allows deduction from income of transportation costs for dependent care, which requires documentation of actual transportation expenses. "[T]he great variety of possible arrangements opens the door to errors, and requires an unwarranted amount of effort by the worker." APSHA would prefer either a federal standard or a state-by-state standard amount. Both of these documents are available on APSHA's homepage.

Long-Term Care Report Card


AARP issues its State Scorecard on Long-Term Services and Supports for Older Adults, People with Physical Disabilities, and Family Caregivers. The report asserts that quality of life, including engagement in the community, requires a long-term care support system where:
there is effective coordination or integration between health-related services (such as clinician services, medications, home health, and physical therapy) and supportive services (such as personal care, adult day, homemaker, transportation, and other services).
One concrete result of high quality home and community support is the cost-saving reduction of hospital readmissions. The report emphasizes that limited data to measure services such as transportation and assistance in the home means that currently the performance of programs cannot be effectively measured. A state-by-state scorecard website looks at several measures, but does not examine anything directly related to transportation.


Easter Seals Project ACTION

Public Involvement in the Transportation Planning Process
- webinar - October 12, 2011. This webinar will provide a guide to taking and utilizing a seat at the table for transportation planning and implementation. This event will prepare transportation advocates to offer effective input that will be heard, understood and incorporated into the over-all plan.

Transcripts from ESPA's summer webinars can now be found at its website.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Reauthorization - National Organizations Talk Transportation Investment

There's an uptick in reauthoriztion talk due to the impending Sept. 30 deadline and whether the old transportation authorization, SAFETEA-LU, will continue to be extended as is - a "clean" extension. A further question is whether a short-term extension will be followed by a reauthorization.

National organizations are advocating for a reauthorization. Their priorities have generally remained the same in the last couple of years. This is what they are saying to the public and to their members.

American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials
AASHTO supports President Obama's position to extend SAFETEA-LU to "as a prelude to completing a new reauthorization bill." AASHTO's reauthorization recommendations include doubling the use of transit by 2030, encouraging more efficient land use, streamlining transportation programs, and increasing investment in highways, transit and intercity passenger rail. On AASHTO's homepage, it is asking Congress to provide "[f]lexibility to enable states to get the most value for each dollar; [c]hanges in [the] law so we can deliver projects faster; [and f]inancial tools as a supplement to our dollars."
[Bike with bread in Hood River, Oregon.]

National Association of Regional Councils

NARC urges Congress to "pass a clean, long-term authorization extension of both the current federal-aid surface transportation programs (highways and transit) and the continued collection of federal fuel taxes." Economic stability and jobs are cited as the reasons for Congress to act now.

Smart Growth America is basically sending out the same message as NARC, with a warning that if Congress does not act "no federal funds for roads, bridge repair, or transportation options; thousands of American workers facing halts in work or layoffs; a loss of $1 billion in just 10 days."
[San Luis Obispo Amtrak station in California. Photograph taken from the Coast Starlight train.]

Community Transportation Association of America

CTAA is noting the redefining of infrastructure to include transit vehicles and workers. Due to the consensus in Congress that we should not slight transportation infrastructure, CTAA is urging transit and transportation providers that "we must keep the infrastructure angle primary in our communications."

American Public Transportation Association

APTA released a public service television spot with Presidents Clinton and Reagon declaring the importance of transportation. The message requests that people tell Congress to pass a robust six-year transportation reauthorization. The ad presently appears on APTA's homepage. APTA is also talking about transportation investment as a means to preserve and create jobs.

Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations
AMPO succinctly described the current House plans for a six-year reauthorization and the Senate two-year version, which has a $12 billion funding gap. AMPO also explains the mechanics of the Budget Control Act and the House plan to limit transportation spending to the amount of gas-tax receipts.

A summary of what is going on in Congress concerning reauthorization and appropriations appears in yesterday's edition of NRC Capitol Clips.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Demand for Transit and Long-Distance Options

I am struck by the confluence of information floating across my screen about the more and more mainstream notion of transportation options in different settings, local, rural, urban, and regional.

National Association of Development Organizations
Exploring the Role of Regional Transportation Projects as Rural Economy Drivers is a NADO research report that looks at three positive experiences with transportation-led economic development projects. Funding sources are also discussed.

(1) Vermont: Construction in Brattleboro of a passenger intermodal transportation hub. The transportation hub, just blocks away from the Amtrak station, added to the downtown 300 parking spaces, bicycle racks, a parking enforcement office, street-level commercial space, and a connection to existing local and regional bus service. The results are fewer empty storefronts downtown, a new theater, and plans for renovating the Amtrak station and building a nearby mixed-use retail and multi- family residential project.

(2) Alabama: Creation of Baylinc, the first multi-county public transportation system in Southern Alabama. The report details the funding hurdles, importance of potential commuter service demand and effective partnerships with local leaders and transit systems. The result is the planning of other regional services, including ferry service and a guaranteed ride home component of commuter service. The lesson emphasized is not to give up on a good idea.

(3) Oregon: Recent projects of the Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council (COIC), with the support of regional partners, in opening a ride brokerage call center, preparing a coordinated regional public transportation plan, designing a bus system, building an intermodal transit hub, and starting local and regional bus service. That service is now serving 200,000 riders per year, with a shift from "a transit- dependent population (low-income, older adult and disabled customers) to a population that chooses public transit over other available transportation options ... helping boost the local economy." Although serving the wider public was not part of the plan, early-adopter human service agencies and transportation-challenged individuals convinced small communities and agencies to support public transit. There are now plans to partner with the business community and add pedestrian and bicycle connections. The advice of one participant is to "[c]reate a story of the problem and have data available to demonstrate a need for the proposed service. "

NADO also issued new reports about air quality projects (with one transit example), emergency planning and economic recovery after disasters.

Long-Distance Connectivity

American Bus Association

The ABA is promoting the $8.8 million that the Federal Transit Administration is offering for wheelchair lifts as part of its Over-the-Road Bus (OTRB) Accessibility Program. The ABA has a special grant information webpage with details and contacts for assisting with grant applications. The deadline is Sept. 12, 2011.

ABA mentions Who Rides Curbside Buses? A Passengers Survey of Discount Curbside Bus Services in Six Eastern and Midwestern Cities, a survey of passengers of intercity curbside bus service about what modes they are taking their business from and also examines the differences between travelers on these buses and on conventional carriers. "Curbside bus companies have attracted publicity for their steeply discounted fares, free wireless internet, and express services on routes that had seen little new service in decades." The 14-page report was prepared by the Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development at DePaul University.

The buses are generating trips in the two areas studied, East Coast and Midwest cities. Their fares undercut Amtrak's, are competitive with car travel, and offer free wifi. On the East Coast, where Amtrak's Northeast Corridor service is a popular option with frequent trains, the curbside buses are stealing business, though Amtrak is still showing ridership increases. In the Midwest, bus passengers are forgoing automobile travel add airplane trips.

Young Demographic

The age 18-25 age group represents a large segment of the curbside bus market and though I have seen many people outside this age group board those buses, including me, there is no question that it is mostly an under-30 crowd. Perhaps due to the nature of their travel and not being as concerned with time (or more concerned with free wifi at low cost), personal rather than business trips predominate. A huge difference with the conventional bus market is the over 90 percent use of portable electronic devices. The only greater percentage use is on the Acela, which costs a whole lot more, is the quickest option (rivaling the plane) and generally has much more expensively dressed travelers.

The ABA also reports that Megabus in the United Kingdom is experimenting with sleeper service, including one's "very own bed," on overnight service between Glasgow and London.