We are pleased to announce that Heather Hume has been named Manager of Paratransit Programs for the MassDOT Rail and Transit Division. In this capacity, Heather will help oversee THE RIDE, coordinate with statewide mobility management efforts, and manage innovative projects designed to ensure the sustainability of paratransit services throughout the MBTA service area.
Prior to her appointment, Heather served as a Service Planner at the MBTA and helped coordinate the efforts of Governor Deval Patrick’s Executive Order 530 Commission on Community, Social and Paratransit services across the Commonwealth.
Heather is a former enlisted Army Reserve member who has an extensive background in both Fixed Route and Paratransit operations. She started her career driving buses while at the University of Massachusetts and also assisted with transportation for the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. In 2005, she worked for the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority and eventually found her way east working for Greater Lynn Senior Services (GLSS) as an Operations Supervisor for their contract operating MBTA's THE RIDE.
Heather has degrees in both African-American Studies and Political Science from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. Most recently, she obtained her Master's Degree from the Michael and Kitty Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy at Northeastern University with a focus on Transportation Policy. Welcome on board, Heather!
After initial formation of Regional Coordinating Councils (RCC) on Cape Cod and in Berkshire County in December 2013, the months of March and April have seen a flurry of activities with three more RCCs fully established as of April 15 (Worcester, Greater North Shore, and Merrimack Valley) and four more forming (Cross Town Connect in the Acton area, Pioneer Valley, Greater Attleboro – Taunton, and Brockton) by the end of April. Altogether Massachusetts has nine RCCs and we are laying the groundwork for more Councils with stakeholders in Franklin County, North Central MA, Metro West and Boston Core. We expect that all RCCs will have had at least one meeting after formation by the end of August, 2014. While setting up each RCC’s leadership and organizational structure is a key first step towards improving coordinated transportation options in the Commonwealth’s communities, our stakeholders understand that coordination will be a long-term and dynamic process requiring patience, perseverance, dedication, open communication and flexibility.
We already have lessons to share from the early RCC process:
- Planning group represents key and diverse segments of the community
- Planning group develops organically and usually includes organizations that have had experience with coordination activities in the past
- Initial planning meeting identifies more stakeholders to reach out to and invite to be Council members
- Planning group may meet once or multiple times before an RCC is established
- Ongoing leadership is key to organize an initial meeting and move the group forward
- Planning group is spearheaded by an early champion that may or may not stay as a leader going forward
- A member of the Statewide Coordinating Council on Community Transportation (SCCCT) participates in the first and subsequent meetings. Some groups choose the SCCCT member as lead
RCCs that formed have the following activities in common:
- Discussed the purpose of the RCC
- Discussed overall community unmet needs via survey, stakeholders roundtable discussion, or other means
- Identified priority projects for the RCC
- Discussed outreach and assigned members to contact others
- Established time and place for regular meetings.
Although Regional Coordinating Councils are just forming across the Commonwealth, there are already notable community transportation coordination efforts to speak of. Congratulations to the dedicated partners who helped create Cross Town Connect (CTC), the newest Transportation Management Association (TMA) in the Acton area! The CTC just received the Patrick Administration’s Community Innovation Challenge grant the third year in a row. Since 2012, the Community Innovation Challenge initiative invested $10.25 million in 74 unique projects in 242 municipalities in the Commonwealth in areas such as education, public health, information technology, public works and safety, environmental protection and transportation. The grant encourages and incentivizes regionalization of services.
Led by the Town of Acton, this TMA grew out of longstanding transportation coordination activities between seven municipalities, local elder and disability serving agencies, the MAGIC sub-region of the Boston MPO, employers and transportation providers. The CTC is a public-private partnership linking demand-response transportation to the elderly, people with disabilities, youth and the general public with employment transportation. The goal is to meet the needs of residents and commuters by addressing daily local needs trips (shopping or medical appointments), suburb-to-suburb commuting trips across a seven-town area, traditional commuting from the suburbs to Boston and reverse commute from Boston. Cross Town Connect is one of two projects that were recently highlighted in a video presentation by Glen Shor, Secretary of Executive Office of Administration and Finance. The link for the video can be found at the Community Innovation Challenge initiative’s website.
To increase options for intercity and commuter transportation options in Massachusetts and other New England states, MassDOT established an innovative public-private partnership with seven leading motor coach companies called BusPlus+.
This new initiative provides expanded regional service while improving customer experience and creates new incentives for private carriers to increase their service at the same time. All buses are disability accessible, equipped with ergonomically designed Kiel seats and three-point passenger seat belts. Each coach has power outlets to charge digital devices and WiFi. The interior of each bus is standardized to MassDOT specifications. An $18.2 million federally-funded competitive grant provided resources for 31 new MCI (Motor Coach Industries) commuter buses. The seven operators (Peter Pan, DATTCO, Plymouth & Brockton, Bloom Bus Lines, Coach Company, Greyhound and Yankee Line) will provide new fixed route service throughout New England and will be responsible for coach maintenance and operating costs.
The first of the buses were delivered to Peter Pan, Springfield, MA in December, 2013, the rest will be delivered to the other companies early 2014. Peter Pan inaugurates new services in Massachusetts as follows:
- Providence – Somerset – Fall River – Boston route is adding one new round trip Monday – Friday starting on January 13, 2014
- Hartford – Worcester – Framingham – Boston is adding one new round trip Monday – Sunday beginning on January 14, 2014
- Springfield – Sturbridge – Worcester – Framingham – Boston lines will add one new round trip Monday – Sunday beginning on January 14, 2014. Sturbridge is a new stop and the town will also be served by the Hartford – Worcester- Boston route
- Woods Hole –Falmouth – Bourne – Buzzards Bay – Wenham – Boston line will add one new round trip Monday – Sunday starting on January 13, 2014. Buzzards Bay is a new stop and the number of Wenham stops will increase from two to four per day.
More services come on line as coaches are delivered to operators later this year. Please look for the BusPlus+ logo on the bus on your next long-distance trip.
Days around Thanksgiving mark the busiest travel period in the US every year. According to AAA’s latest survey, approximately 43 million Americans traveled this Thanksgiving; 90% of them by car for an average distance of 600 miles. Although Thanksgiving is an anomaly, it is a good time to reflect on recent trends in driving. After six decades of almost constant increases in the annual number of miles driven, Americans decreased their driving per capita by 7.4% from 2004 to 2012. A closer observation of this trend reveals that driving per capita was down especially sharply among Millennial, America’s largest generation that will increasingly dominate national transportation trends in decades to come. The decline in average vehicle miles traveled among those aged 16 to 34 fell by 23% in eight years. This trend matches up with the long-time slide in the rates that young people obtain drivers’ licenses. While about 87% of 19 year olds held drivers’ licenses in 1983, only 69% did in 2011. With Millennials being the largest cohort with 80 million, a sharp decline in driving among them is the strongest indication yet of a fundamental shift in mobility preferences and a signal that policy makers cannot ignore.
In order to provide alternative modes to driving, we need to strengthen our community transit services that in turn support strong and thriving communities. In those communities anyone, from the Millennials -who prefer taking public transportation- to the elderly and people with disabilities -who may not drive at all- have access to community transportation services.
The latest approach proposed to deploy new services and utilize available resources more effectively and efficiently is called mobility management which is now supported by federal transportation funding. Mobility management deploys a series of innovative strategies and relies on stakeholder collaboration in the communities where unmet need is paramount. The goal of mobility management is to create a continuum of community transit services regardless who owns the assets that can flexibly react to individual or small group demand at the local level. In Massachusetts the statewide transportation coordination initiative is governed by Executive Order 530 signed by Governor Patrick in 2011 and the ensuing recommendations of the Community, Social Service and Paratransit Transportation Commission that reviewed the state of paratransit, demand response and other community transportation services in 2012. To implement those recommendations, regional coordinating councils began to form. Please visit our site as we post information on the councils early January.
As many of you are aware, especially people who attended the Statewide Coordinating Council’s kick-off meeting in the State House on September 23, the statewide coordination initiative is in full swing. Periodically, I will be highlighting major projects that contribute to improving mobility in our communities. In this issue, I would like to draw attention to a One-Click/One Call Center for Veterans (MoVET) in the making; a collaborative effort of three transit authorities, - the Montachusett RTA, Cape Cod RTA and Metro West RTA- the Department of Veterans Services and other stakeholder groups.
Funded by federal and state resources, this unique initiative will provide vital transportation support to 400,000 veterans and their families as they seek jobs, education, healthcare and other services. The objective of the One-Click/Once Call Center is to create a coordinated electronic system that enables veterans to better understand and coordinate their transportation options and to benefit from lower cost public transportation services in Massachusetts.
Through a single website or phone number, individuals will be able to choose services across modalities and providers. Current travel options in the system include mass transit services, volunteer transportation services, carpools, shared rides, and commuter rail options. Currently in beta testing mode, the platform has fixed route information for all 15 RTAs and the MBTA. Additional modules will be added over the next few months as the One Click/One Call Center rolls out.
Please join Richard A. Davey, Secretary of Transportation & CEO of MassDOT and John W. Polanowicz, Secretary of Health and Human Services, for a kick-off meeting of the Statewide Coordinating Council on Community Transportation (SCCCT).
The meeting will be held Monday, September 23, from 11 to noon at the Gardner Auditorium in the State House, 24 Beacon St., Boston, MA 02133
In 2011, Governor Patrick signed Executive Order 530 to establish the Commission for the Reform of Community, Social Service and Paratransit Transportation Service in the Commonwealth. The Commission was charged with assessing the state of ADA paratransit and community transportation in the Commonwealth and providing detailed recommendations for reform. The 16-member Commission held public input sessions throughout the State and issued a report in 2012. In response to the report’s primary recommendation, the Statewide Coordinating Council on Community Transportation was formed to provide continuing leadership on coordinated community transportation services to MassDOT and HHS. The purpose of the kick-off meeting on September 23 will be to introduce Council members, review key recommendations from the report and provide an update on progress in transportation coordination.
Please share this information with any colleagues, constituents, or consumers who would be interested in attending. Please note that there will be no formal opportunity for public comment at the September 23 meeting, but public feedback is always welcome by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Agency representatives will be available after the meeting to address questions and concerns.
American Sign Language Interpreters and a CART reporter will be present at the meeting. If you also require an assistive listening device or any other accommodation, please call MassDOT at 857-368-9555 or e-mail to email@example.com before September 16.th
Congratulations to members of the North Shore on the Move Mobility Team including:
- Greater Lynn Senior Services
- North Shore Career Center
- Aging and Disability Resource Consortium of the Greater North Shore, Inc.
for organizing a successful symposium on how to design and build more accessible, inclusive, healthy and livable communities.
The event took place in the Wylie Conference Center in Beverly, MA on August 6, 2013. The event brought together 100 participants from around the State to discuss what it takes to build person-centered communities that work for every member of society regardless of age, disability, or financial condition. In a person-centered community the built-in environment is designed by engaging community members in the discussion and has features such as interconnected sidewalks linking residential areas with businesses, curb cuts, bike lanes, parks, and gathering points around town for meeting and socializing. The symposium showcased the latest project on the North Shore, called “The Kiosk for Living Well,” a community pulse point for inclusion and engagement of a wide spectrum of community residents including elderly individuals and people for disabilities.
While mobility - in a sense of transcending physical distance by car, bus, or train - is an important part of livability, it is not the only one. Transportation experts have to work in collaboration with town planners, zoning boards, public health experts, schools, workforce development agencies, community organizations and residents to find out what services a particular community needs to make it livable and satisfy unmet transportation needs at the same time. The new paradigm of delivering person-centered services in transportation is called mobility management. It is a series of concepts and strategies to create a continuum of services to meet the needs of localities including specific cohorts of people for whom mobility may not be reality. While designing custom solutions to local needs offers flexibility, it requires commitment to initiating dialogue with various stakeholders, building new partnerships, and sharing resources at the same time.
The strength of our Statewide Coordinating Council on Community Transportation (SCCCT) lies in the diversity of members representing many stakeholder groups. Our team will rely on advice from SCCCT members, the power of grassroots effort, community dialogue and stakeholder engagement when helping build new transportation services in other regions of Massachusetts. Please be part of our effort to make transportation the link, never the barrier!
It is my pleasure to greet you from my new position as Statewide Mobility Manager in MassDOT’s Transit Division. While new to MassDOT, I am not new to mobility management and coordination. Under the University of Massachusetts Medical School Work Without Limits Transportation Initiative, I worked with many of you in the past and witnessed your dedication to improving the lives of individuals who solely rely on community transportation for mobility. The challenge the Commonwealth faces is to ensure that current and future mobility needs of all citizens are met in a fiscally responsible manner while supporting environmental, energy conservation, public health and economic development goals. We are fortunate in Massachusetts to have state leadership and support for helping MassDOT and its partner agency, EOHHS, to put a strategic framework around statewide transportation coordination while harnessing the knowledge and collaboration of human services agencies, community organizations and advocates, transportation providers, regional planners, and workforce development experts.
In the coming months you will hear more about this work. I will be working very closely with my colleagues at the Human Service Transportation Office to bring you technical assistance, information about best practices, and provide you with the latest updates on progress.
We can make coordinated transportation the link, never the barrier, together! Please feel free to contact us at 857-368-9555.