In 2018, the National Aging and Disability Transportation Center (NADTC) selected ten communities to test and refine innovative ideas for increasing accessible transportation and to develop community support and commitment to move toward full implementation. This is the first entry in a series of blogs that will highlight the work and accomplishments of these planning grants.
Thank you to guest blogger Jim Becker, North Front Range Metropolitan Planning Organization, for preparing this post. North Front Range MPO is based in Fort Collins, Colorado, a little over 65 miles north of Denver. This blog features highlights from Project MILES, a collaboration to explore potential software solutions for improving access to mobility services for older adults and adults with disabilities residing in non-urban/suburban areas of Larimer County. The expert panel of collaborators was made up of regional transportation planners, city and county government officials, non-profit agencies, business owners, and service users.
Overview of Project MILES: Moving Toward Innovative Mobility Solutions
The project’s primary goal is reflected in its title – Mobility Inclusiveness; Locations Everywhere; Simple (MILES). Project MILES envisioned a single-point-of-entry mobility management service, often referred to as “One-Call/One-Click,” that refers older adults and adults with disabilities to appropriate/available transportation options. This portion of the planning phase created an inclusive Expert Panel of service users, service providers, caregivers, and systems representatives to conduct pilot tests of software applications and incorporate stakeholder feedback into development of end-use software.
Purpose and Objective
The purpose of this project was to engage older adults, persons with disabilities, caregivers, and service providers in an inclusive planning process addressing transportation needs for residents of rural parts of Larimer County who do not drive. Specifically, this project aimed to pilot test two mobility management software systems that would support a One-Call/One-Click service. The results of the pilot will informed the broader effort for coordinated services and business plan.
Members of the Expert Panel reviewed software demos from one of five stakeholder perspectives: 1) rider/caregiver, 2) provider, 3) driver, 4) dispatch, or 5) system. By incorporating questions for vendors and evaluation criteria that reflected the interests and requirements of all stakeholder groups, the panel hoped to achieve a comprehensive “first look” at how a coordinated mobility management system might work in our community and be supported by software. Our goal was to examine options that would provide as many of the desired capabilities as possible. A search for existing mobility management software resulted in a list of 12 possible options, including Cambridge Systematics (open-source approach) and RouteMatch (proprietary software), which were our front runners.
Lessons, Successes and Limitations
- Our community would benefit from coordinated ride services, but numerous questions remain.
- Our existing providers and ride services have various capacities (in both service and ability) to participate in a coordinated system using a shared software system.
- Accessibility issues must be addressed in order to meet rider needs.
- An incremental approach to developing a coordinated service is most likely to result in success.
- Rural connectivity is an issue that cannot be solved by software.
- All software services with real-time driver information transfer will require internet and/or satellite service.
- A One-Click/One-Call service will need to have processes in place to address the needs of riders who reside in and drivers traveling to rural areas with limited connectivity.
Expert Panel’s Recommendations
- Our community should implement a limited proof of concept project prior to investing in a mobility management software system.
- The North Front Range Metropolitan Planning Organization should submit a response to the NADTC request for proposals (RFP) for implementation funding support.
- The Project MILES Expert Panel should merge with the Larimer County Mobility Committee (LCMC).
For more information contact Jim Becker at 970.310.4900 or firstname.lastname@example.org.