Since the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) began their MOD programs in 2016, transit agencies and providers have innovated in their paratransit operations and other service delivery. MOD has been supported by the CCAM, a partnership dedicated to issuing policy recommendations and implementing activities that improve the availability, accessibility, and efficiency of transportation for the following targeted populations: older adults, people with disabilities, and individuals of low income.
The National Center for Mobility Management (NCMM) held a virtual peer exchange in October 2020 to highlight transit agencies that are making strides in advancing accessibility in their MOD service and to promote the good work of CCAM. The discussion was guided by several key questions:
- How can MOD be leveraged to promote accessibility in mobility innovation?
- How can transit agencies use the tools made available through CCAM to advance mobility coordination?
- How do you address challenges while maintaining service equity?
Participants in these discussions included mid and senior-level transit industry leaders who are engaged in advancing mobility management and coordination in their service areas.
Several attendees emphasized the need to find revenue streams to include methods of service delivery that give riders more choice. Customer expect that every transit service is accessible – and this service must also be viable, equitable, and affordable. Transit agencies and transit providers must ask themselves: does this service get customers where they need to go?
Transit agencies and providers must also consider the tight financial constraints for people who are unemployed and disabled. Transit providers can look to the CCAM for resources on how to increase collaboration between healthcare, community organizations, and other partners in their service area and align with the CCAM motive. Eventually, all these partners come together and start delivering benefits to the customer, whether they are on transit, at the hospital, or involved with a different community stakeholder. Recently, CCAM released its Report to the President as well as the Federal Fund Braiding Guide.
Discussion revolved around several key themes, one of which being partnerships. Partnerships are so important because they allow a transit agency or transportation prover to strengthen bonds with their community and to work with organizations to save costs. The more that transit agencies and providers step outside the comfort zone, the better experience for the customer and the better outlook for the agency. These strong partnerships are going to help move processes forward.
MOD specifies that programs must be developed to prioritize equity. The Integrated Mobility Innovation (IMI) program strengthens this idea. IMI requires transit agencies and provides to show how they will meet the range of needs with people with disabilities, lower incomes, etc. IMI also requires stronger public engagement and input, to make these changes traceable, and to overcome challenges in public engagement due to COVID-19.
Forums like this virtual peer exchange allow transit agencies and transit providers that are leading in MOD and CCAM to be featured, to connect with others, and to share their best practices. NCMM gives a unique opportunity for transit agencies and their partners to build on MOD, IMI, and eventually Accelerating Innovative Mobility (AIM). When agencies hear of these innovations already happening, they can build on successes rather than starting from scratch. This allows transit agencies and providers to innovate quicker and to provide better and more cost-effective service to more transit riders.