MassMobility logo bus 11.01.12  
MassDOT Rail _ Transit Division
In This Issue
Join Our Mailing List

During the cold winter months, organizations across Massachusetts kept busy exploring new approaches to improving mobility. Read on to learn about a consortium of organizations that used Uber to fill gaps in transit service and an advocacy initiative that connected youth with disabilities with peers to work on transportation projects. We also highlight one volunteer driver's take on what she enjoys about helping her neighbors get around, as well as more news about community transportation, human service transportation coordination, and mobility management in Massachusetts.

We hope to see you at this year's conference, to be held in conjunction with MassDOT's Innovation and Mobility Exchange. Registration is open! Scholarships to cover the registration fee are available, but the deadline to apply is fast approaching - details below.

This newsletter is compiled by MassMobility, an initiative of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services, with support from MassDOT.
Conference scholarship opportunity extended to March 26
Coming up in just a few weeks, join us for the 2018 Innovation and Mobility Exchange,  a two-day conference scheduled for April 10 and 11 at the DCU Center in Worcester. Attendees are welcome to attend both days, though all community transportation sessions are scheduled for the second day, April 11.

Register at If the registration fee is a deterrent, apply for a Community Mobility Scholarship. Scholarship applications are due March 26 at 5 PM - so do not delay!
Consortium pilots partnership with Uber to fill transit gaps
A consortium of organizations in Southeastern Massachusetts are partnering with on-demand provider Uber to deliver rides outside of  Greater Attleboro Taunton Regional Transit Authority  (GATRA) service hours. The Community Accessing Rides (CAR) pilot stemmed from public forums held in 2015 that identified transportation as a major barrier to accessing goods and services in the region.Originally scheduled to run from October 2017 through February 2018, the pilot was recently extended through October 2018 due to its success.
CAR uses the Uber for Business platform. The following social service agencies administer the program: Attleboro YMCA, Arbour-Fuller Hospital, The Literacy Center, St. Vincent de Paul Society, Norton Council on Aging, Norton veterans' office, New Hope, and the Attleboro Area Interfaith Collaborative. Individuals who receive services at any of these agencies qualify to participate in the pilot. Organization staff use a smart phone, tablet, or laptop and a personalized access code unique to each agency to request a ride on behalf of the consumer. A centralized billing system with the YMCA as the group's fiscal agent eases the payment process for participating organizations. Funding comes from GATRA's Community Transit Grant Program award, contributions from each pilot member, the state legislature, fundraising, and grant money from various local organizations.     
Riders have utilized CAR for transportation to a variety of destinations. The top three uses have been client rides to and from Arbour-Fuller Hospital, employment transportation, and trips to other medical appointments. Arbour-Fuller Hospital, which has averaged the most trips, uses CAR for patients who are waiting for their MassHealth transportation to begin. Having this interim transportation resource means there is no gap in service for patients.
Carrie Ballou, Community Relations Coordinator at Arbour-Fuller Hospital, described the positive impact of the pilot on her community: "We found the pilot program allowed us to address transportation gaps and provide patients with the help that they needed in a timely manner. It's been a useful tool for servicing the needs of a portion of the population we work with." She added, "CAR has also provided insight regarding the local community's need to access our services. Based on the data received, GATRA was able to create a bus stop at the Arbour-Fuller."
Transportation Advocacy and Mentoring Initiative empowers youth with disabilities
In an effort to increase mentoring opportunities for youth with disabilities and engage them in the transportation planning process, Easterseals and Partners for Youth with Disabilities established the Transportation Advocacy and Mentoring Initiative (TAMI) last year, with funding from the Administration for Community Living. Through TAMI, youth with disabilities from Michigan mentored peers in Massachusetts, who then used their skills to develop and implement transportation advocacy projects.
The mentors were recruited from PEAC , a Michigan-based non-profit that empowers individuals with disabilities through bicycling, active transportation, and self-advocacy education. The mentoring and education sessions took place online. The mentors ran the sessions and selected the training topics, which included understanding different modes of transportation, identifying barriers, and using self-advocacy skills.
Another important aspect of the project was that it introduced youth with disabilities to careers in transportation and mobility management. Participants were recruited from the 2017 Massachusetts Youth Leadership Forum, which featured a transportation advocacy panel, career mentor luncheon, and resource fair with multiple transportation-focused organizations in attendance.
TAMI concluded with the participants from Massachusetts designing their own advocacy projects, a process that lasted from July 2017 through the end of November. They were asked to identify a transportation gap in their community and use the skills they learned to engage with decision-makers and stakeholders and advocate for inclusive mobility. The Boston-area participants focused their advocacy project on the Transportation Access Pass (TAP), a reduced fare card for individuals with disabilities. While the standard CharlieCard is available at multiple sites, the MBTA only offers the TAP card in one location. The advocates found this inequitable and wrote a letter to the MBTA's General Manager. The MBTA promptly replied that they are working on solutions and offered a mail-in option in the meantime.
In a recent webinar about TAMI, Austin Carr, one of the project participants, shared his lessons learned: "Change takes time, so don't give up. You need to be involved, personal stories are very powerful, and working in a group is helpful." He added, "I learned to be a better advocate, to be more confident, and to keep educating myself and others." For more information, contact Judy Shanley.
North Central Massachusetts describes synergy between mobility management and complete streets
On February 21, the Montachusett Opportunity Council and Montachusett Regional Planning Commission (MRPC) presented on complete streets and mobility management as part of a webinar hosted by the National Complete Streets Coalition and the National Center for Mobility Management.
Three presenters described Complete Streets efforts in Fitchburg, which passed a Complete Streets policy in 2016 and submitted a prioritization plan to MassDOT in 2017. They also discussed mobility management efforts underway in the region, such as a travel training program developed in partnership between the transit authority and local human service agencies. The webinar highlighted the synergies between Complete Streets and mobility management approaches. For example, MRPC has used sidewalk audits to identify potential barriers for riders accessing bus stops - and also to examine whether elementary students can comfortably and safely walk to school. In closing, the presenters shared lessons learned, such as the importance of working with many different stakeholders, involving the public in a meaningful way at all stages, and using data.
At the end of February, the Baker-Polito administration  announced that Fitchburg and 22 other towns were receiving a total of $5.5 million in funding for Complete Streets programs.
Volunteer driver shares her story
Volunteer driver programs rely on dedicated groups of drivers to meet the transportation needs of riders. And while older adults comprise a large portion of the rider pool, they are also vital contributors. Irene, an 80-year-old Lexington resident, is one such contributor and has been a driver for the Lexington-based Friendly Independent Sympathetic Help (FISH) volunteer driver program for about 12 years.
"I began driving after seeing an advertisement in the local newspaper," Irene shared. "I liked the idea of helping people who couldn't get to the doctor. Volunteers sign up to drive once a month and provide free rides to [medical] appointments." Irene is no stranger to volunteering; she spent much of her life engaged in charity work for the Red Cross, Girl Scouts, and her children's schools. Now, alongside driving, she volunteers at Meals on Wheels and a money management program for older adults.  
Irene elaborated on why she enjoyed volunteer driving, "I look forward to picking people up. I feel as if I'm being useful. Because of me and people like me, they can get to their appointments without worrying. But my favorite thing about volunteer driving is the people! I have the opportunity to interact with individuals I wouldn't normally meet. They tell you stories about their lives and it's absolutely fascinating to hear."
Mobility managers in the news
The Daily Hampshire Gazette recently featured an article on the important role that small transportation services offered by Councils on Aging and community organizations in the Pioneer Valley play in riders' lives.
Boston MPO seeks  input for 20-year plan
The Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) would like your help developing Destination 2040, the 20-year plan to meet the transportation needs of the Boston region . Destination 2040 will guide transportation investments in the region, including the MPO's funding for capital projects, studies, and technical analyses. Please provide your thoughts about in this short survey . For more information, subscribe to updates on Destination 2040 or contact Betsy Harvey .
Who is MassMobility?
For those of you who only know us through the newsletter,  MassMobility is a state initiative based at EOHHS which also receives funding from MassDOT. We seek to improve mobility for seniors, people with disabilities, and others in all regions of Massachusetts by sharing information about existing services and supporting organizations in their efforts to fill transportation gaps.  We provide presentations to human service agency staff to help them learn how to help consumers find transportation, and we also provide technical assistance to any organization looking to address transportation challenges. We welcome you to contact us any time if you have a question or idea for a project that would improve mobility for seniors or people with disabilities.
Follow us on Twitter 

Are you on Twitter? If so, follow us @MassMobility for links to community transportation resources relevant to organizations and agencies here in Massachusetts. If you aren't on Twitter, you can still see our posts online at

We want to know your stories

If you have suggestions for news items or topics to cover in future newsletters, please contact us or submit a guest article. Comments, questions, and feedback are also welcome.

Please share this newsletter

Please forward this newsletter widely to others who are interested in mobility management, community transportation, or related topics and encourage them to subscribe to receive future newsletters and publications.


You can also read past issues of all MassMobility newsletters.