Lehman Center for Transportation Research at Florida International University

Coordination of Specialized Transportation Services for Transportation-Disadvantaged Populations: Issues and Solutions

  • Sponsor: Federal Transit Administration
  • Contact: Dr. David Shen, 305-348-1869, shenl@fiu.edu
    or Dr. Albert Gan, 305-348-3116, gana@fiu.edu

  • According to the 2000 U.S. Census, 35.1 million people were over age 65, 44.5 million people were over age 21 and disabled and 33.9 million people were living below the poverty line. These people either cannot drive, have difficulties accessing conventional public transportation, or cannot afford a car, thus have limited access to employment opportunities, health and medical services, educational services, and the community at large.

    The good news is that there are currently 62 federal programs that authorize use of a large sum of funds to provide transportation for these transportation-disadvantaged people. However, the services provided through these programs are often uncoordinated, resulting in inconveniences and inefficiencies, some of which have been identified by the Coordinating Council for Access and Mobility (CCAM), as follows:
    • multiple operators who duplicate the expenditures and service efforts of others;
    • no formal mechanism for cooperation or communication among these operators;
    • a total service level well below the total needs;
    • significant variations in services available
      • during particular times of day or days of the week;
      • to specific groups of persons;
      • duplicative service in some neighborhoods but substantial gaps where no service is available in others;
    • a lack of reliable information describing the services or their costs, and their funding sources;
    • substantial variations among providers in service quality, including safety; and,
    • no overall comprehensive plan to address these problems.

    In order to improve coordination among the many programs currently providing services to the transportation-advantaged populations, the Department of Transportation, with its partners at the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and Education, have recently launched the United We Ride program—a new initiative consisting of the following five program components:
    • A Framework for Action: a self-assessment tool that States and communities can use to identify areas of success and highlight the actions still needed to improve the coordination of human service transportation.
    • State Leadership Awards: to recognize states that have accomplished significant progress in human service transportation coordination.
    • National Leadership Forum on Human Service Transportation Coordination: to raise the visibility of the coordination issue among State leaders and secure their commitments to action, to showcase available technical assistance, and to recognize States that have already taken significant steps to improve human service transportation services.
    • State Coordination Grants: to improve coordination by addressing gaps and needs related to human service transportation in their geographic regions.
    • Help Along the Way: to provide hands-on assistance to States and communities in the development and delivery of coordinated human service transportation programs.

    This project aims to complement the on-going effort of the United We Ride program by identifying and developing solutions to problems and issues associated with the following three major areas:
    • Reporting Barriers
    • Useful Practices
    • Cost Allocation