Research Archive

Phases 1 - 5

Building Blocks

This initiative built upon and collaborates with several past and current USDOT-led activities, including:

  • United We Ride (UWR): UWR is an USDOT priority initiative launched in the summer of 2003, and administered by Federal Interagency Transportation Coordinating Council on Access and Mobility (CCAM). This initiative has effectively engaged all 11 federal departmental partners related to human service transportation delivery. It addresses policy implications and solutions of coordinated human service transportation systems from both technical and non-technical perspectives. The MSAA and UWR initiatives enter a joint demonstration program to develop feasible models of enhanced human service transportation delivery system.
  • Presidential Executive Order Workgroups: In response to the Presidential Executive Order 013330 issued on February 24, 2004, six inter-agency workgroups were established to tackle issues related to human service transportation delivery, including technology and policy subjects. The MSAA initiative participates and plays an active role in all six working groups.
  • ITS Applications for Coordinating and Improving Human Services Transportation Cross-Cutting Study: The Oakridge National Laboratory leads this cross-cutting study to investigate the usage of ITS technologies for coordinating human services transportation operations. The project produces a final report documenting study findings as well as two pamphlets for public outreach. These two pamphlets aim to promote the awareness of ITS applications and benefits among transportation service providers and the general public.
  • ITS Transit Case Studies: Making a Case for Coordination of Community Transportation Services Using ITS. This study provides a detailed view the experiences of three organizations as they planned, implemented, and operated intelligent system (ITS) to meet the mobility needs of the communities they serve through improved coordination. They are: Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART) in Michigan; Reach Your Destination Easily (R.Y.D.E.) in Nebraska; and in North Dakota. These three organizations represent three distinctively different environmental settings and challenges facing urban/suburban, small urban and rural/frontier users and service providers.
  • International Workshop on Mobility, Accessibility and Technology: This is a workshop in San Francisco hosted by American Public Transportation Association (APTA) in July 2004. The workshop supports a platform for information sharing and provides an international perspective on the delivery of human service transportation.
  • Transportation and HHS Agency Coordination Operational Tests: This is a phased program that allocates over $3 million to 13 operational tests for coordination, technology deployment and innovative practices of human service transportation. Many of these operational tests focus on improving operational efficiencies from the transportation providers’ perspective. More>>
  • Transportation and HHS Regional Coordination Workshops: The USDOT hosted 10 regional workshops (by the 10 FTA regions) from March 2003 through December 2004. These workshops aimed to solicit input from the states’ perspective and assist states in developing their coordination action plans. More>>
  • Coordinated Mobility: A Unified Transportation Management Solution. Based on stakeholders’ input and needs assessment, the USDOT funds the National Transit Institute to develop this course. This course discusses creative approaches to overcoming coordination barriers and thus bringing fragmented systems into a more seamless network with a customer-focused mindset.

Phase 1: Coalition Building

One of the major goals of the Mobility Services for All Americans initiative was to create a bridge between the transportation and ITS and human services communities in order to create new solutions that combined the efforts and knowledge of both. Coalition building that facilitated inter-agency coordination and cooperation was a key element in the success of this initiative. To promote optimal allocation of resources and deployment of technologies to enhance the mobility and accessibility for the transportation disadvantaged, this initiative introduced three levels of coalition building to perform various functions ranging from day-to-day program operations and management to technical support, advisory and oversight:

  • The first level (core group) was a USDOT intermodal program management team that involved key personnel from three modal administrations, including FTA, FHWA and FMCSA. This core group performed essential program planning, management and decision-making functions, monitored the course, and was ultimately responsible for program outcomes.
  • The second level was an inter-agency coalition that initially included representatives from four federal agencies: Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, Education and Transportation. These four agencies collectively administered 52 of the 62 federal programs, identified in the GAO report that provided human services transportation to the transportation disadvantaged. As the program progressed, the inter-agency coalition expanded to involve representations from all ten agencies, with the additions of Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Justice, and Social Security Administration, as defined in the presidential executive order.
  • The third level of coalition building reached out to the stakeholder groups beyond public agencies. Stakeholders included grass-roots, community/advocacy groups, industry organizations, transportation service providers, trade associations, and private businesses. These organizations/individuals had a wide range of interests, expertise, and/or roles in human services transportation and participated in various capacities, including providing guidance/assistance in coordination, outreach and technology deployment and advising program management and operations. Additionally, expert panels on specific subjects were formed as needed throughout the course of the program.

Phase 2: Foundation Research

The primary purposes of foundation research were to:

  • Integrate knowledge from the transportation and human services communities on needs, gaps, barriers, past and current innovations and emerging opportunities, so that program resources could allocated to focus on the "right" targets
  • Establish the "baseline" so that measurable performance could be defined and gauged
  • Develop the information inventory so that subsequent program activities could build upon existing knowledge and systems
  • Identify concurrent activities and initiatives by public sectors so that related efforts could be effectively integrated and/or coordinated Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), the contractor selected to perform the foundation research actively collected, reviewed, analyze, and compiled information from at least the following four input sources: 1) coalition inputs, 2) federal activities, 3) state/local initiatives, 4) general review and research.

First, SAIC established the mechanism and regularly obtained inputs from the coalitions developed in Phase 1. Second, SAIC inventoried past and existing human service transportation-related projects initiated by not only USDOT, but also across all federal government agencies. Third, SAIC collected information and cataloged note-worthy state and local business models and practices on human services transportation planning and delivery. Special attention was given to those states and local communities where service coordination and/or innovative techniques were emphasized. Last, SAIC integrated knowledge from empirical studies and tests and conducted a state-of-the-art research on linking technologies with human services transportation coordination and accessibility enhancement.

At the end of this phase, SAIC provides deliverables that addressed the following issues:

  • Identification of needs and gaps in current transportation practice experienced by transportation disadvantaged populations
  • Identification of barriers experienced by the transportation disadvantaged, transportation service providers and program administrators/agencies that led to gaps and unmet needs in accessibility and mobility
  • Development of inventories of: state-of-the-practice, past and ongoing projects, and available information/references that were related to using advanced technologies to improve accessibility and mobility of the transportation disadvantaged
  • Assessed and prioritized the potential technologies (or "packages") and their applications based upon their ability to address the needs/gaps and their readiness for widespread application.

The foundation research final report was completed and is available for viewing and download from the ITS Joint Program Office website at

Phase 3: Planning and Design of ITS-enhanced HST Models

Building upon existing knowledge, stakeholder inputs and information produced through Phase 2: Foundation Research, the MSAA initiative launched a demonstration program that demonstrated the technical and institutional feasibility of a coordinated human service transportation system with enhanced accessibility features. The MSAA initiative collaborated with the United We Ride initiative, both in terms of funding and management, and the planning and implementation of the demonstration program.

The demonstration program took place in two stages. The first stage involved model system planning and design, while the second stage called for model system deployment and evaluation. This Phase – Phase 3: Planning and Design of ITS-enhanced HST Models corresponded to the first stage. The philosophy of conducting the demonstration in two stages was to broaden public/private participation, foster collaboration and competition while reducing the government’s overall investment risks. The scope of the demonstration considered all technologies, including Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), Assistive Technologies (AT), and other technologies and innovations, that could improve the availability and accessibility of public transportation services to transportation-disadvantaged persons, including three areas of potential technology applications:

  • Technologies and services that improved the access, egress, and ease of use of conventional fixed route transit and other non-private auto transportation for the transportation disadvantaged
  • Technologies and services that provided for accessible demand response transit, paratransit, and other mobility options to transportation-disadvantaged persons
  • Technologies and services that coordinated all transportation services in order to provide fully accessible door-to-door mobility equivalent to that provided to the general public.

The results from Phase 1 was up to 10 "deployment-ready," replicable and scalable system detailed designs for models of travel management coordination centers (TMCC) that deliver enhanced human service transportation across a variety of operational environments and scenarios.

The USDOT selected 10 demonstration planning and design sites based on criteria advertised in the request for proposals (RFPs), including:

  • Type of operations environment
  • Clarity and specificity of proposal
  • Current state of human service transportation delivery system
  • Current level of ITS Infrastructure in place
  • Scope of human service transportation programs participation
  • Strong public-private partnership and commitment
  • Integration with other technology and/or systems change initiatives
  • Cost, timeframe and qualification

The USDOT also established an independent and interdisciplinary technical and management assistance (TMA) team as a resource that provided general technical assistance to and exchanged information across the project sites as needed. The TMA team also provided direct oversight and project management support to the USDOT that promoted the quality of deliverables received from the individual project locations. The results from Phase 3 was 10 "deployment-ready," replicable and scalable system detailed designs for models of travel management coordination centers (TMCC) that deliver enhanced human service transportation across a variety of operational environments and scenarios. Based on these outcomes, the MSAA program entered another ITS Management Council (IMC) go/no-go decision point before moving into Phase 4: Deployment and Evaluation of ITS-enhanced Human Service Transportation Models.

Eight sites have been selected to participate in this phase -

Phase 4: Deployment and Evaluation of ITS-enhanced HST Models

Near the end of the period of performance of Phase 3 and subject to IMC approval for continuation, the USDOT launched the second half of the demonstration program. It selected local communities to deploy and evaluate ITS-enhanced HST models as locally planned and designed in Phase 3. Only those project sites involved in Phase 3 (i.e., model planning and design) were eligible to apply for the Phase 4 (model deployment and evaluation) funding of this initiative.

The end product of this demonstration program was the creation of replicable/scalable models of travel management coordination center (TMCC) that not only provided single point of access, unified, customer-based travel support services, but also supported coordination of human services transportation management and operations across various social welfare programs and service providers, modes and geographic areas. The TMCC deployed a collection of technologies that have been tested and proven, and have demonstrated significant benefits and return on investment based on empirical evidence, including results from the 13 ongoing rural ITS transit operational tests. The concept of replicability and scalability was essential to the system design and specification of TMCC in order to promote widespread deployment (i.e. minimal customization required from one deployment to another) across the country from both technical (e.g., ITS) and non-technical (e.g., policies and regulations) perspectives.

The MSAA program currently plans to fund two local communities for TMCC model deployment and evaluation. The two sites represent distinctively different service characteristics and challenges facing urban/suburban and rural/frontier public transportation operations – a key finding resulting from the MSAA foundation research. The number of demonstration sites may increase upon availability of additional funds from other federal partners and/or programs. The ability and commitment to maintenance and operate the TMCC beyond the MSAA program funding once it is built is a key criterion for demonstration site selection. In addition to a self-evaluation to be performed by the local demonstration communities, the MSAA program also selects an independent contractor(s) to conduct a comprehensive evaluation to determine the returns on investment and measure the overall success of the respective TMCC in achieving program goals.

Phase 5: Technology Transfer, Customer Outreach and Professional Capacity Building

While the key product of the MSAA program was the demonstration of replicable and scalable models of TMCC at two or more local communities (i.e., Phase 4), the ultimate success of the program depended on the level of nationwide deployment to enhance the quality of mobility services for all Americans. To this end, the MSAA program fully recognized the importance of technology transfer, customer outreach and professional capacity building (PCB). In Phase 5, the program built on the success of TMCC demonstration to promote a widespread practice of human services transportation coordination through well designed and articulated technology transfer, customer outreach and professional capacity building activities so that more of the transportation disadvantaged population could enjoy the benefits of increased access and mobility through service coordination and technology integration.

An outreach and PCB plan ensured that all program activities were carried out with the potential implications of technology transfer, customer outreach and PCB in mind. The plan took into account any professional outreach opportunities and initiatives that were not operated by the government, such as Easter Seals Project ACTION mobility management seminars. To continue the spirit of inter-agency collaboration, the development and delivery of technology transfer, customer outreach and professional capacity building activities utilized coalition networks built at the beginning and throughout the program period. Outreach activities and materials focused on the following five areas:

  • To increase the general public and policy-makers’ awareness of the concept and benefits of human services transportation coordination
  • To promote the general public and policy-makers’ awareness of the concept and benefits of innovative technologies for accessibility and mobility solutions
  • To inform and educate the transportation disadvantaged about turning available transportation resources into enhanced accessibility and mobility
  • To educate transportation service providers about applicable ITS technologies, their respective strength and weakness, technical implications and empirical lessons learned
  • To outreach and educate human services program administrators and transportation service providers about the opportunities and potential return on investment (economic and others) presented by integrating technologies and coordinate services.

The program took advantage of existing mechanisms established through the USDOT ITS and other departmental agencies’ programs for delivery. These mechanisms included the following:

  • Provided technical assistance to human services transportation providers and program planners and implementers
  • Developed and distributed technical and/or implementation guides that contained technical details and step-by-step instructions on how to plan, design and implement a successful program
  • Developed and delivered training courses
  • Continued the ITS peer-to-peer support program
  • Continued ITS Transit Showcase-in-a-Box or similar innovative program
  • Continued ITS Transit technical assistance program
  • Produced papers for professional journals, newsletters, and publications
  • Made presentations at conferences and workshops

Phase 5 commenced upon the completion of Phase 2: Foundation Research.

Schedule and Final Steps

Establishment of Inter-agency coalition building and stakeholder steering groups
Delivery of foundation research reports
Selection of demonstration planning and design sites
Completion of demonstration planning and design
Selection of TMCC deployment sites
Operational TMCC
Delivery of TMCC evaluation reports
Delivery of final program reports
PCB/Outreach activities/materials
September 2004
April 2005
April 2006
April 2007
May 2007
December 2007
August 2008
September 2008
September 2008


This initiative required $8M over four years. In fiscal year 2005, a federal funding estimate of $1 million was needed to launch this initiative, including program development and management, coalition building (Phase 1), foundation research (Phase 2). In fiscal year 2006, $3 million was needed to carry out demonstration planning and design, and provide technical and management assistance to the selected local communities (Phase 3). In fiscal year 2007, an additional $3 million was needed to implement the replicable/scalable traveler management coordination center demonstration program and conduct in-depth evaluations to determine return on investment, measure system impacts, and document lessons learned (Phase 4). In fiscal year 2008, $1 million was needed to complete the TMCC demonstration, produce a final program report to assess the overall level of the program success, and conduct PCB/outreach activities (Phase 5).