Guest Blogger – Cara Marcus, MSLIS, the Resource Center Manager for National RTAP and the Chair of the TACL Task Force.
What is TACL?
You’ve definitely heard about transportation coordination – and your agency may be in the planning, implementation, or management stage. But have you heard about TACL? Don’t worry if you haven’t, since it’s a new – just one year old on January 13, 2022 – national transportation technical assistance coordination library (actually it’s the only library of its kind). TACL provides a sustainable methodology and platform for access and findability of rural and tribal transit coordination resources of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and its transportation technical assistance centers – NADTC, N-CATT, NCMM, National RTAP, and SUMC. It’s a user-friendly, resourceful, and practical collection of case studies, webinars, learning modules, technical briefs, and more – all on different aspects of transportation coordination.
The United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) published Public Transportation: Enhanced Federal Information Sharing on Coordination Could Improve Rural Transit Services in January 2020. GAO recommended that FTA “develop a communication plan that will effectively share information with state and local stakeholders on coordination opportunities in an accessible and informative way.” FTA and its TA centers immediately formed a task force and started planning. The task force, aided by usability testers, met monthly for the first year to develop a stringent peer review process, decide upon subjects and formats for inclusion, and create an attractive, accessible website that would fulfill GAO’s objectives to improve interagency resource coordination between FTA and its five TA centers.
A Successful First Year
In its first year, TACL reached 2,612 visitors, who opened resources 1,882 times in the course of 2,940 page sessions. The library started with 60 resources and grew to 91 (and counting!). Over 250 individuals attended TACL training sessions during the first year and our most recent training recording was viewed over 80 times. The map below shows the 2021 distribution of visitors to TACL throughout the continental United States – you’ll see there have been users from every state.
The most popular search terms used in TACL’s first year were CCAM – Coordinating Council on Access and Mobility, human services, procurement, inclusive, mobility, rural, equity, funding, medical. If you try some of these, you’re bound to find useful resources for your transportation coordination projects.
Beyond statistics, TACL paved the way for interagency coordination between the TA centers in new ways. We began to work together more to create collaborative training documents and webinars, such as National RTAP, NCMM and NADTC’s Writing a Coordinated Public Transit Human Services Transportation Plan.
What You’ll Find in TACL
Needless to say, you’ll find technical assistance about rural and tribal transportation coordination! And you can delve into many facets of that topic with a resource for any coordination need you may encounter. TACL includes resources for crossing jurisdictional boundaries, non-emergency medical transportation brokerages, bike-sharing, federal fund braiding, and much, much more. Resources span from case studies to entire toolkits, such as NADTC’s Exploring Human Services Transportation Materials Toolkit, which contains video recordings, presentation slides, and technical assistance documents.
TACL can be browsed, filtered by format, subject, date, TA Center, and even Transportation Research Thesaurus (TRT) terms. There are simple keyword and advanced search options and if anyone needs any additional help, all they have to do is email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Every resource in TACL is full-text and free, which includes copyright-free. This means you can download it, share it with any colleague or team, and incorporate it into your training documents and presentations. And our double-peer review process ensures that you’ll find only the highest quality resources that meet the GAO criteria and are also easily implementable technical assistance for rural and tribal transit organizations, equitable, accessible, and timely.
There are many ways to get involved with TACL. We’re always looking for resource reviewers, both from the transportation sector and members of the public with an interest in transportation coordination. Anyone can suggest a resource to be included in the next quarterly update – one of our goals for 2022 is to begin to publish partner resources. Users are welcome to suggest transportation coordination topics for future cycles too – our task force members are always looking for new trainings to plan based on user needs. Don’t forget to sign up for TACL training if you’re new to the library – we hold webinars every February and August. We’ll hold regular user surveys as we strive to make TACL as usable as possible – we learn from our users, like you. So, now you’re ready to tackle TACL!