Research Archive

Access for All Adaptable Models Concurrent Sessions: Harnessing Technology to Augment Community Mobility

Slide 1. Access for All Adaptable Models Concurrent Sessions: Harnessing Technology to Augment Community Mobility

Gwo-Wei Torng
Mitretek Systems

Community Transportation EXPO
Seattle, Washington
15 June 2004

Logos for Federal Transit Administration and Department of Transportation

Slide 2. Goals of This Session

  • Provide Awareness of New Federal Programs and Initiatives
  • Explore/share how technologies can assist in enhancing access and mobility for all
  • Spark participation and input in Federal activities

Slide 3. Where We Are

  • 62 Federal programs fund human services transportation
  • $ billions are spent on human services transportation
  • FTA budget for public transportation is $7 billion

graphic showing four separate areas of spending with groups of people, a van, and a moneybag: health, transportation (with a bus), education, and employment


  • Social service agencies' primary business is ensuring that their clients receive good services, including transportation. Historically, social service agencies have done an exceptional job, with a good deal of work being done internal to the agencies. And this is rightfully so since the agencies are the ones most concerned about their individual clients and their cases.
  • But now, we're hearing from these agencies and stakeholders that the traditional "stovepipe" approach to transportation service delivery is keeping agencies from operating efficiently. The fragmented approach to such fundamental services as transportation is costing more and delivering less.
  • We know from the 2003 U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) Report that 62 Federal programs fund transportation for human services, and billions of dollars are spent each year to provide human services transportation. The entire Federal Transit Administration budget for public transportation all across the country was around $7 billion in FY2003.

Slide 4. Where We Want to Be: Coordination & Integration Results

  • Improved customer service
  • Reduced waste
  • Improved efficiencies resulting in lower unit costs
  • Increased sources of revenue for transportation providers

graphic showing an arrow labeled Intelligent Transportation Systems aimed at an oval containing two vans, a bus, and a moneybag above groups of people, showing that ITS can facilitate coordination and help provide more rides to more people, using fewer vehicles and costing less money


  • A solution to this problem is coordination. Coordination produces:
    • Improved customer service, including more passenger trips for customers and more flexible service (i.e., increased frequency and hours of operation), new service, increased service area, and sometimes one-stop shopping for customers.
    • Reduced waste from the reduction or elimination in the duplication of transportation services.
    • Improved operating efficiencies and efficiencies gained from cooperative purchasing and maintenance of vehicles, which result in lower unit costs.
    • Increased sources of revenue for transit agencies by providing trips for human services customers.
  • Since transportation is a common thread among social services in getting people to places, the U.S. DOT has begun working closely with other federal partners and state and local officials to offer ITS technology solutions that improve transportation service delivery.
  • As this diagram illustrates, ITS technologies can be used to facilitate coordination, which helps to provide more rides to more people, using fewer vehicles, and costing less money.

Slide 5. Technology Opportunities

  • Existing and Proven Technologies to Improve…
    • Access to Conventional Transportation
    • Access to Paratransit and Other Mobility Options
    • Coordination and Integration of Community Transportation Services

Slide 6. Technology Opportunities: Examples

  • Traveler Information Systems
    • Pre-trip planners
    • Wayside transit information
    • In-vehicle information

graphic showing a checklist for service status composed of metrobus, metrorail, elevators, and escalators

graphic showing metrorail e-alerts: it's easy as (1) where are you going, (2) ready to leave this minute, (3) here's your best route


  • Pre-trip planners equipped with interactive voice response can provide people with visual impairments information about transit routes, schedules, and travel times. "Talking kiosks" at stations provide information about vehicle assignment and arrival times, and in-vehicle enunciators provides information about upcoming stops.

Slide 7. Technology Opportunities: Example

  • Electronic fare payment and billing systems

photo of person's hand passing a smartrip card across a scanner

photo of a person's hand inserting a credit card into a card reader


  • Electronic fare payment allows users to access different transit modes by swiping an electronic card. This can help people with physical and cognitive disabilities pay the fare more easily, since people no longer need to count out the exact change.
  • Number 1 priority of the TRB Access Committee Research Subcommittee

Slide 8. Technology Opportunities: Examples

  • Accessible Pedestrian Crosswalks

photo of a yellow light next to a speaker and below a raised right-facing arrow on a pedestrian crossing sign

photo of a woman placing her hand on raised directional markings on a pedestrian crossing sign


  • "Talking crosswalks" can provide people with visual impairments the same information as other people using crosswalks, and appropriately timed walk signals can ensure that seniors and others have enough time to cross the street.

Slide 9. Technology Opportunities: Example

  • Paratransit Operations and Brokerage Systems

screen shot of a Gantt chart showing scheduling information for support staff


  • Scheduling and dispatch software is used to route rides more efficiently. This software can help expand capacity, improve on-time pickup and drop-off and minimize the length of the trip.

Slide 10. Making it Happen: Mobility Services For all Americans

  • From the President
    • Presidential Executive Order on Human Service Transportation Coordination (2004)
  • Builds Upon & Coordinates With Other U.S. DOT activities:
    • Joint Regional Coordination Workshops
    • Rural ITS Transit Operational Tests
    • United We Ride
    • ITS International Workshop on Technology & Mobility
    • Linking Technology with Accessibility and Mobility of Seniors and Persons With Disabilities
  • Other Agencies and Organizations


  • Builds upon current U.S. DOT Initiatives:
    • United We Ride: A 5-part FTA initiative to enhance the coordination of human service transportation:
      • Framework for Action: self-assessment tool (document) that states and communities can use to identify areas of success and actions still needed to improve coordination of human services transportation
      • State Leadership Awards: to states that have accomplished significant progress in human services transportation coordination (awarded at National Leadership Forum)
      • National Leadership Forum on Human Services Transportation Coordination: brought together governor-appointed senior leadership to raise visibility on importance of human services transportation coordination; occurred starting on 2/23/04 in Washington, DC
      • State Coordination Grants: about $1 million total from FTA for addressing gaps and needs related to human services transportation coordination
      • Help Along the Way: technical assistance program
    • Rural ITS Transit Operational Tests: A total of $2.5 million for up to 10 operational tests to demonstrate and evaluated specific ITS technologies for coordinating human services transportation among multiple rural transit providers and HHS agencies (funding has been obligated for 8 tests)
    • Joint Regional Coordination Workshops: Workshops conducted jointly by the U.S. DOT and HHS in 10 regions (4 have already been conducted) to improved human services transportation coordination at the local level, using ITS. TANF, Medicaid, and Seniors programs have been focus; will expand to programs funded by Dept. of Labor and Dept. of Education.
    • APTA ITS International Workshop: Linking Technology With Mobility for Seniors and People with Disabilities (July 21–23, 2004)
  • Presidential Executive Order on Human Service Transportation Coordination (2/24/04): Establishes an Interagency Transportation Coordinating Council to promote and improve human services transportation coordination to improve mobility for the transportation disadvantaged.

Slide 11. Mobility Services for All Americans: Phase 1 Coalition Building

  • USDOT Intermodal Team
    • FTA – William Wiggins, Bryna Helfer, Michael Winters
    • FMCSA – Phil Hanley
    • JPO – Yehuda Gross
  • Inter-agency Coalition
    • Departments of Transportation, Health and Human Services, Labor, Education, Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Veterans Affairs


  • The program plan calls for three levels of coordination for program management, oversight and support: a USDOT intermodal team, an inter-agency coalition and stakeholder advisory/working groups.
  • The inter-agency coalition solicits participation from eight different federal agencies. These agencies collectively administer 62 federal programs that provide human services transportation to the transportation disadvantaged. The first four agencies (DOT, DHHS, DOL, DOE) account for 52 of the 62 programs, including 23 programs in HHS, 15 in DOL, 8 in DOE and 6 in DOT.
  • Currently, this initiative works with the six inter-agency workgroups already established through the United We Ride program. A separate inter-agency coalition that focuses exclusively on this Mobility Services initiative, may be formed in the future as needed.

Slide 12. Mobility Services for All Americans: Phase 1 Coalition Building (cont.)

  • Stakeholder Advisory/Working Groups
    • The American Public Transportation Association (APTA)
    • The Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA)
    • The Taxi Cab, Limousine, and Paratransit Association (TLPA)
    • Easter Seals Project ACTION (ESPA)
    • American Public Human Services Association (APHSA)
    • American Association of Retired Persons (AARP)
    • Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA)


  • Stakeholders include grass-root, community/advocacy groups, industry organizations, trades associations, private businesses. These organizations/individuals have various roles in transportation and may participate in carrying out the program, share funding, or provide guidance/assistance in coordination, outreach and implementation. Expert panels on specific subjects may be formed as needed. Listed are only examples.
  • Once again, emphasize that all three layers of coalitions will contribute to the program implementation in various ways and capacity THROUGHOUT the entire program period.

Slide 13. Mobility Services for All Americans: Phase 2 Foundation Research

  • Three foundation studies are proposed
    • Needs/gaps assessment
    • Institutional/service barriers identification
    • Technologies to address unmet needs/barriers
  • Largely based on compiling/synthesizing existing knowledge and research
  • Proposed performance period: 6 months


  • These three foundation research are scheduled to begin in July 2004 and conclude in December 2004. The first two studies will be conducted concurrently, with the third study following slightly behind. Because the entire performance period is merely 6 months, priority will be given to contractors who can accommodate expedited procurement. The studies will base largely on compiling/synthesizing existing knowledge and research outcomes. Information sources may include DOT/HHS coordination field operational tests and rural workshops. The coalitions built in Phase 1 will play critical roles in guiding the process and reviewing the products resulting from these foundation studies.

Slide 14. Mobility Services for All Americans: Building the Foundation

graphic showing the concept of foundation building

Image Details


  • This diagram illustrates the concept of foundation building. This foundation is built upon inputs from four major sources: Federal activities, state/local initiatives, review and research, and program coalitions inputs. In the end, the foundation should shed lights on what, where, and how technologies can be integrated to remove service barriers and effectively address the mobility needs for the transportation disadvantaged.

Slide 15. Mobility Services for All Americans: Phases 3–5

  • Phase 3 – Technology Integration, Testing and Evaluation
  • Phase 4 – Replicable/scalable Model of Traveler Management Coordination Center
  • Phase 5 – Documentation and Outreach

Slide 16. Mobility Services for All Americans: Summary

  • Three Levels of Coordination
    • In-house USDOT intermodal team
    • Federal inter-agency coalition
    • Stakeholder Advisory/Working Groups
  • Five-phase Approach
    • Coalition building
    • Foundation research
    • Technology integration, testing and evaluation
    • Replicable model demonstration
    • Outreach and PCB
  • One Outcome
  • Enhanced mobility and accessibility through technology integration and service coordination with efficient use of resources

Slide 17. We Need Your Participation

William Wiggins
ITS Program Manager

Office of Mobility Innovation
Federal Transit Administration (TRI-10)

Yehuda Gross
ITS Transit Program Manager