Laura Fay, David Kack and Natalie Villwock-Witte (PI) recently traveled to the Jasper, Texas area for six meetings related to the Deep East Texas Council of Governments (DETCOG) transportation voucher program. This pilot project will show how transportation vouchers can be used to provide basic mobility to those who have limited options. Meetings were held in Jasper, as well as Ivanhoe, Newton, Pineland and San Augustine. Similar to many rural areas in Montana, people in the DETCOG area often travel 45 miles or so (one way) for groceries, medical care, and other essential services. Currently, this pilot project is focused on those who are 60 years old or older. The long-term vision is to secure additional funding so that those with low incomes or a disability will also be able to use the voucher program.
The pilot program should start in May and will include approximately 25 participants. Demand for the vouchers already exceeds existing funding, so data from the pilot project will be used to reach out to potential funding sources. The WTI staff is supporting the DETCOG staff to ensure that this program can grow and meet the needs in this rural part of Texas. The new program was big news in the City of Ivanhoe – the photo shows the City marquee informing community members about the meeting to discuss the voucher program.
Congratulations to the City of Bozeman, one of only three communities across the nation selected to receive State of the Art Transportation Trainings from Transportation for America (T4America). WTI’s Rebecca Gleason served on the team that developed the successful grant application, led by Cathy Costakis of the Montana Nutrition and Physical Activity Program along with Randy Carpenter of Future West, Jim Madden of Mountain Time Arts, with support from Bozeman Mayor Cyndy Andrus. Through this program, Bozeman will receive technical training workshops from T4America on how to partner with local arts leaders and organizations to develop “out of the box” transportation solutions and broaden public support for current or future projects. Bozeman hopes to engage its vibrant arts community into transportation planning efforts across the Gallatin Valley, and in particular, into initiatives to create a first-class regional transit system as the region grows. “We are excited to be selected for this unique program, which is great fit for Bozeman given how rapidly our population is growing,” said Rebecca.
The Bozeman Daily Chronicle recently reported that the City of Bozeman will provide an additional $64,000 to grow services on a busy Streamline bus route that serves both Montana State University and popular shopping districts. In the article, WTI’s Mobility and Public Transportation Program Manager, David Kack, discusses how ridership has increased over the last three years, and options for funding future expansions. The full article is available on the Chronicle website. More information about WTI’s partnerships with the Human Resource Development Council (HRDC) and other agencies to develop Streamline is available on the WTI website.
TRB’s National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Research Report 861: Best Practices in Rural Regional Mobility addresses the role of state transit program policies and regional planning agencies in the development of rural regional services. The report provides lessons learned on how to address needs for rural regional mobility, and includes a checklist for developing a rural regional route. It also highlights best practices from a number of states, including Montana. The Montana case study describes WTI’s work with Opportunity Link and North Central Montana Transit to develop regional services between Havre and Great Falls, Montana. The full NCHRP report is available through the Transportation Research Board.
WTI will provide technical assistance to three rural communities and regions to identify and evaluate expanding transportation options, thanks to a new partnership with the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO)’s Research Foundation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). USDA sponsors technical assistance grants to rural communities and regions for transportation development, and NADO’s Research Foundation, working in conjunction with WTI, was selected to receive roughly $500,000 in grants. WTI will receive approximately $330,000 to conduct technical assistance for three locations:
Lebanon, Missouri is interested in developing a public transportation system. WTI will develop a feasibility study that will outline how to plan, develop, and implement a public transportation system within the City of Lebanon (more project information here).
In communities served by the Deep East Texas Council of Governments (DETCOG), WTI will work with DETCOG to pilot a traveler cheque system intended to provide more mobility opportunities to veterans, persons with disabilities, and older persons. This project is unique in that not only will work and medical needs be addressed, but the system allows users to utilize trips for livability purposes providing they stay within their allotted mileage. The project will include planning, marketing, and public outreach (more project information here).
In Southwest Colorado, WTI will assist the Southwest Colorado Council of Governments with the development of a fixed route system between Cortez and Durango. The project will include the identification of funding options and development of a sustainability plan (more project information here).
David Kackwill head the Southwest Colorado project, and Natalie Villwock-Wittewill lead the Lebanon, Missouri and DETCOG projects with the assistance of Karalyn Clouserand Laura Fay, respectively. “WTI has conducted numerous mobility and public transportation studies,” said Kack; “and we’re excited to be working with NADO’s Research Foundation to use our expertise to assist rural communities throughout the country.”