This blog was written by Caitlin Musselman, Senior Communications Associate at the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a).
Learn how 10 communities across the country are working to implement innovative projects that will remove barriers to transportation and expand mobility options for older adults and people with disabilities.
Local public transportation is a critical link to employment, health care and community and aging services. Recognizing the increasing demand for transportation services that must be met with limited resources, the National Aging and Disability Transportation Center (NADTC) offers grants to help communities build bridges between transit systems and human services transportation programs.
NADTC community grants are designed to support communities to assess their transportation needs and develop and implement innovations and new models for increasing the availability of accessible transportation services for older adults and people with disabilities, including making effective use of Section 5310 Enhanced Mobility of Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities funds.
Last fall, NADTC awarded $284,898 in competitive grants to communities in 10 states—Alabama, California, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, New Mexico, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Virginia and Washington State. Unique to this round of grant recipients (which will continue their work through May 2021) is the unprecedented opportunity they, with funding from NADTC, have to support the roll-out of new transportation approaches targeted to older adults and people with disabilities as their communities grapple with, and begin to emerge from, the COVID-19 pandemic. The end goal for these grantees is the creation of sustainable and replicable innovations that result in increased availability of accessible transportation.
The 2020 Innovations in Mobility grantees are:
- Appalachian Agency for Senior Citizens in Cedar Bluff, VA seeks to increase the availability and accessibility of transportation for older adults receiving medical treatment for chronic conditions. The transportation program will provide individuals residing in the four-county service area with reliable transportation to medical appointments. Transportation will be provided to dialysis three days a week and cancer centers two to three days a week. Visit aasc.org to learn more about this grantee.
- Capacity Builders in Farmington, NM will provide transportation information to empower older adults and individuals with disabilities living in rural and tribal areas of San Juan County to become self-reliant in accessing transportation services. Visit capacitybuilders.info to learn more about this grantee.
- The City of Talladega, AL will extend the hours of operation during the week and add Saturday hours to better connect older adults and people with disabilities with transportation to shopping, dining and other leisure activities. The grant will also provide the community’s blind residents who work at the Industries for the Blind more options after work hours. Visit talladega.com to learn more about this grantee.
- Community Action Program Belknap-Merrimack Counties, Inc.in Concord, NH will create a cohesive marketing and branding plan to attract attention, and promote professionalism and trust following the merger of Concord Area Transit and the Rural Transportation System into one transit system. Visit bm-cap.org to learn more about this grantee.
- Horizon Health, Inc., in Pierz, MN will provide transportation services to adults with disabilities and those in need who struggle with transportation insecurities in the rural county, market the service, reimburse volunteers’ mileage, recruit new volunteers and offer a free to low-cost sliding fee scale for transportation. Visit horizonhealthservices.org to learn more about this grantee.
- Laurens County Disabilities & Special Needs Board (LSDCN) in Laurens, SC will improve customer service, increase organizational cooperation and expand access to transportation for older adults, people with disabilities, special needs consumers, caregivers and families. Visit lcdsnb.org to learn more about this grantee.
- Mountain Rides Transportation Authority in Ketchum, ID will establish a fixed-route Non-Emergency Medical Transportation (NEMT) bus service that connects the rural communities in south-central Idaho to essential medical facilities in the City of Twin Falls. Visit mountainrides.org to learn more about this grantee.
- Molly’s Angels in Napa, CA will provide free transportation to and from medical appointments for low-income older adults in rural areas of Napa County where public transportation is either not available or has limited availability, and the targeted population has difficulties accessing transportation because of frailty, dementia and physical or mental disabilities. Visit mollysangels.com to learn more about this grantee.
- San Juan County Islands Shuttle in Friday Harbor, WA will expand daily availability of shuttle hours to the vulnerable population on San Juan Island, making earlier and later trips available daily to residents of rural San Juan County. Visit IslandRides.org to learn more about this grantee.
- Thrive Allen County in Iola, KS will provide Non-Emergency Medical Transportation (NEMT) services to Allen County residents to increase the availability and accessibility of transportation in the community, and expand current mobility options for older adults and people with disabilities. Visit thriveallencounty.org to learn more about this grantee.
Access to transportation is more than a ride—whether it is getting to a medical appointment, to religious services, to the grocery store or to social gatherings. Transportation is vital, particularly in rural communities. These grantees not only provide access to transportation, but they provide social connection and engagement, which is a key and critical component of healthy living.
Does your organization have a transportation program? Resources from NADTC’s Every Ride Counts campaign include materials your organization can use—and customize with your contact information—to promote your transportation programs in your community.