Produced by the Texas Department of Transportation's Public Transportation Division
Community Transportation. Regional Coordination.
Issue 2, February 2008
(PDF version )
The Public Transportation Division (PTN) anticipates the availability of up to $60,000 per planning region to support regional transportation coordination planning activities from September 2008 through August 2009. PTN will provide a funding application packet in late March with applications due later this spring. Funding should be available September 1. To be eligible for funding, each lead agency must send a letter to PTN by March 14 indicating the intention to continue serving as lead agency in the regional coordination effort. Along with this letter, lead agencies also must provide a brief overview of priorities and planned action for the new funding period. Please read the funding announcement letter and instructions . Contact Steve Wright at (512) 416-2811 or [email protected] for additional information.
Several workshops and other information-sharing sessions on regional transportation coordination are set for July 23 and 24 at the Omni Austin Hotel at Southpark. This two-day event is designed for lead agencies in the regional coordination effort and their partners. Agencies who intend to continue serving as the lead agency must attend. This event will feature nationally prominent trainers and presenters who will lead workshops on building partnerships, coordinated planning, using technology to promote coordination, and other topics.
The Public Transportation Division (PTN) will post an agenda as well as share information on how to register for this event within the coming weeks. Each lead agency should identify five individuals to attend. These should include lead agency staff, transit provider staff, public transportation coordinators, and other key partners from your regional steering committee.
Lead agencies may use current planning funds to pay for travel to this event. Agencies that have already expended current funds may request scholarships from PTN. A block of rooms is reserved at the Omni South Park. We will send you more details about room reservations in the near future.
Contact Steve Wright at [email protected] or (512) 416-2811 for more information.
A tentative schedule is set for ten regional forums to be held around the state specifically aimed at strengthening local ties between transportation and health and human service agencies. Some of you have already participated in a conference call with Public Transportation Division (PTN) staff to discuss preparation for the forum in your area. If not, PTN will schedule a call with you soon. This intensive, interactive one-day forum will be led by professional facilitators and tailored to address needs in your area. This event will provide a unique opportunity to visit with persons from a wide variety of health and human service programs and identify ways to connect public transportation resources with people who need them - in particular, people with health and human service needs. Contact Steve Wright at [email protected] or (512) 416-2811 for more information.
Trips provided through the Job Access Reverse Commute (JARC) program nearly quadrupled during just the first three months of operations in Bowie, Cass, Lamar and Red River Counties in Northeast Texas. JARC services began in October 2007 with 431 one-way trips. One-way trips increased to 1,567 in December, representing 927 individuals. "It's going gangbusters up here," said Linda Pugh, transportation manager for Ark-Tex Council of Governments (COG) Rural Transportation District, the lead agency for regional transportation coordination in Northeast Texas.
After being awarded JARC funding from TxDOT's Public Transportation Division (PTN) on September 1, 2007, Ark-Tex COG wasted no time in implementing their ride-to-work program. Pugh had already identified partners for this project prior to submitting the COG's application for funding. Partners include the Northeast Texas Workforce Board, a transportation provider (Northeast Texas Opportunities), and two taxi companies (Yellow Cab and City Cab) in addition to Ark-Tex COG.
In September, Pugh worked through the regional transportation coordination steering committee to create a subcommittee to oversee the JARC program. This subcommittee negotiated reimbursement rates and developed memoranda of understanding (MOU) with partners, establishing roles and responsibilities for each entity. The COG also hired drivers and leased vans in September.
The COG implemented this JARC program in October, providing rides for job-seekers and people already employed. Pugh says this program was an immediate success for two reasons: 1) the tremendous demand for transportation services in this high-poverty, high-unemployment area; and 2) the efficient and complimentary roles provided by partner organizations.
Pugh says everyone wins with this program. People needing transportation get it, the workforce board assures clients a way to get to jobs and interviews, the transportation provider fills up its vans, taxi companies get new business, and the COG fulfills its role as leader in overseeing the region's coordinated transportation activities.
"It takes everybody working together," said Pugh. "What's been wonderful about this is the taxis. They do a great job. They do evenings and weekends."
Pugh says it was critical to find a transportation resource for after-hours and weekends because of the need to accommodate shift-workers who do not work Monday-through-Friday or eight-to-five jobs, and the taxi companies have been a perfect fit in this largely rural area.
"In rural Texas, you have to figure out what you need and how to do it," Pugh said. "We had to sit down and brainstorm."
Pugh suggests these straightforward steps for putting together a successful program:
Pugh says creating MOUs helped to formalize a process in which roles and expectations are clearly articulated for each partner agency.
"Even though we've been coordinating up here for years, by forging these partnerships and all of us working together on the same page, it's created seamless transportation up here—the way it's supposed to be," Pugh said.
Pugh says she expects even more people to take advantage of the Northeast Texas JARC-services during the coming months.
For more information on the Northeast Texas JARC-program, contact Linda Pugh or Owetta Walton, Ark-Tex COG transportation operations coordinator at (903) 832-8636.
There are two transit conferences scheduled to occur in the next few months in Texas. The first one, 2008 SWTA Annual Conference, is later this month, February 17-19, in Fort Worth. The second one, 2008 Texas Transit Conference & Expo , is scheduled for April 11-15, 2008 in Waco. If you're interested in attending one or both of these conferences, please go to their websites for additional information on how to register.