Research Archive

Overview of the U.S. DOT Priority ITS Initiative: Mobility Services for All Americans

Slide 1. Mobility Services for All Americans

James A. Bunch
Mitretek Systems

APTA Bus and Paratransit Conference
Denver, Colorado
May, 2004

Slide 2. Mobility Services for All Americans – Background

  • 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 3. Mobility Services for All Americans – Background

  • U.S. DOT Tier I Priority ITS Initiative
    • New ITS R&D Program Framework and Structure
    • Major multi-modal and agency effort
    • Problem and data driven
    • Means of focusing on a few high payoff efforts
  • 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
  • Supports Presidential Executive Order on Human Service Transportation Coordination


  • 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 4. Mobility Services for All Americans – Scope

  • Investigate and evaluate integrated ITS transit technologies that:
    • Improve transportation coordination among transportation providers, including public transit agencies, for human service trips and the general public
    • Increase mobility and transportation accessibility for the transportation disadvantaged through integrated implementation of technologies

Slide 5. Mobility Services for All Americans – Approach

  • Demonstrate a community based system of human services transportation coordination using a combination of ITS transit technologies.
  • Use integrated implementation of technologies to overcome barriers to mobility and accessibility.
  • Determine the impacts and return on investment
  • End Product: Replicable Model Traveler Management Coordination Center
  • Budget: $8 million over 4 years

view of workers in a traffic control center


  • The initiative will calumniate in the demonstration of a replicable traveler management coordination center architecture or overall design, which will provide one-stop customer-based travel information and trip planning services.

Slide 6. Mobility Services for All Americans – Problems

  • Overlapping, fragmented, and unavailable transportation services
  • Inadequate customer service
  • Transit agencies experience:
    • High costs
    • Limited revenues
    • Underutilized vehicle capacity
  • Islands of technology, knowledge, and innovation within different professions/areas
  • Barriers and gaps in door-to-door accessibility and mobility remain


  • Currently, due to inefficiencies, limited resources, and a lack of coordination, delivery of human services transportation is challenging.
    • The current "stovepipe" approach, where each agency provides its own transportation services, has produced a number of problems:
      • Overlapping or redundant service, where two or more agencies provide trips to the same destinations
      • Fragmented services, where geographical service areas are limited due to an absence in trip transfers between transportation providers and due to limitations in accessibility for the transportation disadvantaged
      • There are geographical areas in which transportation service is not currently provided (i.e., gaps in service).
    • Improvements in human services transportation delivery and customer service are needed. Currently, in many locations, customer service is inadequate:
      • Often, customers have to contact multiple case workers for multiple funding programs
      • Trip requests have to be made well in advance
      • Scheduled trip times are inconvenient
      • Pick-up wait times are long and difficult to estimate
      • Trip travel times are long
      • Accessibility to transit is limited for seniors and persons with disabilities
    • Transit agencies also struggle with costs. Most rural transit providers are on a tight budget and have limited revenue. In addition, most transit agencies have excess capacity on their transit vehicles, meaning that there is space available for additional passengers.

Slide 7. Mobility Services for All Americans – A Solution: Coordination & Integration

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

graphic showing an arrow labeled ITS aimed at an oval containing two vans, a bus, and a moneybag above groups of people, showing that ITS can facilitate coordination and integration to 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 8. Mobility Services for All Americans – Coordinated and Integrated ITS

diagram showing Intelligent Transportation Systems and associated computers, communications, networked systems, and information management with their advanced technologies: traveler assistive technology, scheduling and dispatching software, traveler information, billing and reporting software, electronic payment, vehicle tracking, and geographic information systems


  • The demonstration(s) will apply and examine a combination(s) of the following ITS transit technologies (not necessarily a complete list):
    • Geographic information systems (GIS): Geographical database containing locations of clients, human services, transit routes, etc.; planning tool for analyzing spatial-related data; increases transportation route efficiency and passenger carrying productivity.
    • Automatic vehicle location (AVL) systems: Tracks vehicle locations in real time for monitoring vehicles and managing fleets; improves passenger transfer coordination; enhances passenger and driver safety; allows vehicle location information to be provided to customers.
    • Integrated vehicle dispatching and scheduling software: Assists dispatchers in scheduling and routing trips; accommodates advanced trip reservations, standing orders, and real-time requests; increases route efficiency and passenger carrying productivity.
    • Communication systems: Local area networks (LAN), wide area networks (WAN), wireless communications (e.g., digital radios, mobile phones), mobile data terminals (MDTs), and mobile data computers (e.g., personal digital assistants); provides communications among the various ITS components.
    • Electronic payment systems: Allows trips to be paid electronically; allows providers to track trip costs more accurately; one card can accommodate multiple providers and agencies; is convenient for customers.
    • Billing and reporting software: Uses data from the other ITS components to generate financial and client tracking reports, and FTA reports; simplifies ridership reporting and invoicing.
    • Advanced traveler information systems (ATIS): Allows customers to obtain trip information over the telephone or Internet; let's customers know the arrival time of their vehicle.
    • State-of-the-art technologies that improve accessibility for seniors and persons with disabilities (e.g., talking signs, personal way finders and built environment navigation aids)

Slide 9. Mobility Services for All Americans – Roles and Products

  • Stakeholder Roles:
    • Federal:
      • Provide coordination among stakeholders
      • Support a large-scale demonstration
      • Conduct an evaluation and return-on-investment study
      • Transfer knowledge to industry
    • Public and Private Sectors: Assume long-term responsibility
  • End Product: Replicable Model Traveler Management Coordination Center

view of workers in a traffic control center


  • The public sector includes transit agencies and non-profit transportation providers that receive federal transportation subsidies. The private sector includes advocacy groups for the transportation disadvantaged, transportation brokerage companies, and clearinghouse billing companies.
  • The initiative will calumniate in the demonstration of a replicable traveler management coordination center architecture or overall design, which will provide one-stop customer-based travel information and trip planning services.

Slide 10. Mobility Services for All Americans

four-year timeline toward building and replicating a Traveler Management Coordination Center

Image Details

Slide 11. Contacts

William Wiggins
ITS Program Manager

Office of Mobility Innovation
Federal Transit Administration (TRI-10)
400 Seventh Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20590
(202) 366-0255

Yehuda Gross
ITS Transit Program Manager

ITS Joint Program Office
1200 New Jersey Ave., S.E.
Washington, D.C. 20590
(202) 366-1988