FTA Announces Grant Funding for Healthcare Transportation

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has announced the availability of $6.3 million in competitive grant funds for transit coordination projects that improve access to healthcare. A Notice of Funding Opportunity is on display at the Federal Register where instruction on how to apply can be found.

RCTC’s own Blythe Wellness Express (BWE) was selected from promotion of the grant funding. BWE provides transit from Blythe, CA to the Coachella Valley for health-related trips.

FTA’s Access and Mobility Partnership Grants focus on transportation solutions to medical appointments and other non-emergency healthcare services. The grants will help improve options for people with limited transportation choices and bridge the gap between service providers in the transportation and healthcare sectors.

The program supports the work of the inter-agency Coordinating Council on Access and Mobility (CCAM), which works to coordinate federal programs to improve access to jobs, schools, healthcare, and other opportunities.

Applicants must submit completed proposals for each funding opportunity through the GRANTS.GOV “APPLY” function by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time November 13, 2018. Prospective applicants should register as soon as possible on the GRANTS.GOV website to ensure they can complete the application process before the submission deadline.

Eligible applicants for awards are State and local governmental entities, providers of public transportation, private or non-profit organizations. The maximum Federal share of project costs is 80 percent. The applicant provides a local share of at least 20 percent of the net project cost and must document the source of the local match in the grant application

More details can be found on the FTA’s CCAM webpage.

Joshua Tree National Park Shuttle Service Launches

Visitors to Joshua Tree National Park can now help preserve the beautiful desert ecosystem by keeping their cars away. A new shuttle service launched February 1, 2018 to take visitors to and from designated stops in and around the Park.

Operated by Morongo Basin Transit Agency (MBTA), The Roadrunner Shuttle Service represents a partnership between MBTA and the National Park Service that has been years in the making. Objectives of the shuttle service include reducing traffic congestion.

A free service for those with a National Park Pass, the shuttle runs every two hours every day (except for holidays) through the end of April. Service will resume in November.

Stops within the Joshua Tree National Park include: Jumbo Rocks campground, Ryan Mountain parking lot, Hidden Valley day use area, Intersection Rocks, Barker Dam and Upper Boy Scout Trail parking lot. Outside of the Park, visitors can catch the bus in Joshua Tree, Twentynine Palms and the Palm Springs Airport.

Learn more about the Roadrunner Shuttle Service here.

Webinar on Improving Transit for Veterans

Providing transportation for military veterans in your community? There’s a guidebook!

AMMA partnered with KFH Group to develop TCRP Report 164: Community Tools to Improve Transportation Options for Veterans, Military Service Members, and Their Families.

This project was sponsored by the Transportation Research Board and provides guidance and tools to assess transportation needs of veterans and their families and ways to potentially improve public transit, specialized transportation, volunteer services, and other local transportation options needed to meet those needs.

Report authors Heather Menninger of AMMA and Buffy Ellis of KFH Group, presented their findings and community tools in a free webinar. Take a look here!


Grant Funding Secured for Medical Transportation in Blythe, CA.

The new Blythe Wellness Express service was selected for grant funding through the FTA’s Rides to Wellness Program. This service will increase access to preventative healthcare for Blythe area residents by providing transportation over 85 miles from Blythe, CA. to The Coachella Valley three times a week for medical appointments. The Blythe Wellness Express is one of two projects selected for funding in California and one of 19 nationwide.

Riverside County Transportation Commission applied for the grant in partnership with Palo Verde Valley Transit Agency for $185,753 to implement the Blythe Wellness Express. This travel navigator/mobility management coordination project will address access to services in an underserved area and involve staff from the public transit agency, healthcare providers and community volunteers. This project will provide an evaluation piece will document health-related outcomes.

Read more about the Blythe Wellness Express service here.

Additional funding partners are Palo Verde Hospital, Community Improvement Fund, 4th District Riverside County Supervisor John Benoit, and the Independent Living Partnership. Support of this project also includes; US Congressman Raul Ruiz, CA State Senator Jeff Stone, the City of Blythe, Blythe Police Department, Blythe Chamber of Commerce, Riverside University Healthcare System, Sheltering Wings, Escuela De La Raza Unida, First Southern Baptist Church of Blythe, Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), Coachella Valley Association of Governments (CVAG), Sunline Transit Agency and the RCTC Citizen Advisory Committee.

This grant is part of the FTA’s Rides to Wellness Demonstration and Innovative Coordinated Access and Mobility Grants program. This program emphasizes public transportation as a strategy for people to access non-emergency healthcare, resulting in better health, fewer hospital visits and lower costs. The initiative focuses on improving the health of those with chronic conditions and ensuring that at-risk populations can get to wellness appointments, healthy food, and community services.

FTA Rides to Wellness Grant Pursued for Palo Verde Valley

BWE RouteImproved mobility for medical trip needs may soon be coming to the Palo Verde Valley!

The trek from Blythe, California, an isolated, agricultural town in the Palo Verde Valley to the Coachella Valley, is over 100 miles. Literally in the Colorado Desert, the City of Blythe and the surrounding communities are also in a healthcare desert. The local hospital, clinics and cancer centers work tirelessly to serve the community, but the area faces a shortage of registered nurses, primary care health professionals, mental health professionals, and the population has been designated by the state as medically underserved. Those who can drive or get a ride to the abundance of services and specialists in the Coachella Valley, seek medical care those. Others don’t. Their medical needs are left unattended and untreated.

There is no public transportation between Blythe and the Coachella Valley. There’s no way to get there. Until now. The Riverside County Transportation Commission (RCTC) applied for funding under the FTA’s new FTA  Rides to Wellness Program. This grant offering seeks to increase access to care, improve health outcomes, reduce health care costs by funding innovate projects. RCTC partnered with PVVTA, the Palo Verde Valley Transit Agency, and local health care agencies to create a Rides to Wellness program for the Blythe community.

If funded, the Blythe Wellness Express will run up to three days a week, providing transportation from Blythe to hospitals in Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage, and Palm Springs. This medical transportation program will provide a lifeline for an underserved population to get to desperately needed medical care. Read more about the Blythe Wellness Express and the grant application at the Palo Verde Valley Times.

The grant application for this new transportation program was submitted May 25, 2016 and is currently under review.

AMMA is honored to have assisted RCTC and PVVTA with this undertaking and wishes to thank the many partners who made this project possible:

Palo Verde Hospital, Blythe Cancer Resource Center, Palo Verde Valley Community Improvement Fund, Community Connect/ Riverside County VTCLI, Independent Living Partnership TRIP, U.S. Congressman Raul Ruiz, California State Senator Jeff Stone, Supervisor John J. Benoit, City of Blythe Mayor Joseph DeConinck, Blythe Police Department, Blythe Chamber of Commerce, Riverside University Health Care System, Salud Corporation- Clinicas de Salud del Pueblo, Sheltering Wings Corporation, Escuela de la Raza Unida, First Southern Baptist Church, Southern California Association of Governments, Coachella Valley Association of Governments, SunLine Transit Agency, RCTC Citizen Advisory Committee Members



LTA Board Approves Driver Wage Increase after AMMA Study

IMG_2335_1024AMMA’s most recently concluded project, a driver wage and benefit survey of 20 agencies, resulted in positive news: the Lake Transit Authority’s Board of Directors voted to raise wages for its contracted Paratransit Services employees by 8.16 percent.

This survey effort included cultivating a list of peer California transit agencies based on comparable population sizes, proximity to Lake County, and similar topographical characteristics. This group of 20 agencies responded to a survey of 26-questions about system characteristics comparable to Lake Transit characteristics that could impact wage and benefit packages. The survey also included detailed questions about driver wages and driver benefits, including sick and vacation leave, healthcare and retirement.

Analysis of the survey results revealed that Lake Transit’s experience is consistently below the median wages for contracted drivers–both part-time and full-time–and substantially lower than the comparable numbers for in-house transit drivers. Additionally, Lake Transit policies of driver wage rates and benefit packages are below their peers on almost every measure.

Presented with this data, the Board unanimously approved the wage increase, as detailed in this Record-Bee article. Lake Transit is now awaiting final Caltrans approval.

AMMA is proud to have conducted this effort and grateful to the 20 participating peer agencies. Congratulations to the Paratransit Services Drivers!

TRB Publishes Heather Menninger’s and Virginia Werly’s Travel Training Case Study

RTA-Case-StudyWe are pleased to announce that the ADA Demand Estimation Case Study written by AMMA’s Heather Menninger and RTA’s Virginia Werly was selected for publication!

“ADA Cost Savings and Increased Fixed-Route Ridership through Transit Agency-Provided Travel Training“ was published by the Transportation Research Record, Journal Volume 2419.

This paper provides a case study of Riverside Transit Agency’s Freedom to Go Travel Training Program and reports on the experience of 207 individuals with disabilities. The study focused on the training of persons with disabilities, and reported on trainees’ fixed-route use, including other outcomes associated with the reduction of ADA complementary paratransit costs. The paper discusses the import of travel training provided by transit agencies. Related opportunities are identified, as well as the ability to report actual, documented cost savings.

The abstract can be viewed here.

Congratulations Heather and Virginia and thank you for your work in promoting enhanced mobility options for all individuals!

Webinar on Improving Transportation for Veterans

image006AMMA is pleased to participate in a webinar presenting TCRP Report 164: Community Tools to Improve Transportation Options for Veterans, Military, Service Members and Their Families.

This free webinar is taking place Thursday, March 12th 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm (ET) and is presented by the National Transit Institute, in cooperation with the Transportation Cooperative Research Program (TCRP). Presenters include KFH’s Buffly Ellis and AMMA’s Heather Menninger.

The webinar will showcase examples of community solutions that address the transportation challenges facing veterans, their family members, and active service members.

Register at NTIOnline.com.

View Presentations from the International Conference on Demand Responsive Transit

October’s International Demand Responsive Transit Conference, “Shaping the New Future of Paratransit,” was widely successful, engendering much dialogue and sharing of creative models for delivering quality DRT.

Presentations are now available on the conference website here, thanks to the many accomplished speakers. To view a presentation, click on a speaker’s name underneath the presentation title.

Many thanks to TRB and the Steering Committee for all their effort in coordinating this event.

ICTC Coordination Plan Featured on IV Press Website

image001[4]The recently completed 2014 Update to the Public Transit–Human Services Transportation Coordination Plan for Imperial County was given a huge boost by being featured on Imperial Valley Press Online.

ICTC’s Kathi Williams and AMMA’s Heather Menninger spoke with reporters from IV Press to describe the plan’s purposes, notably identifying transportation needs and developing strategies to meet those needs for older adults, persons with disabilities, persons with low income and other transportation disadvantaged individuals.

The 2014 Coordination Plan is available on ICTC’s website here.

AMMA developed this plan in collaboration with Mobility Planners, Transit Marketing, and Professional Translation Solutions.