Richland County has a growing variety of transportation needs not provided for adequately by the private automobile or the private sector. Seniors, whether living alone, or in a group setting, need access to vital off-site medical care, often as far away as Cleveland or Columbus, as well as trips to shopping and recreation. Unemployed workers without cars need transportation to training and workplaces. Even the least vulnerable of us can face drastically altered transportation needs if we break a leg, or lose our privilege to drive. These needs, and the services provided for them, can collectively be called Public Transit and Human Services transportation. A variety of services, of varying availability, scope and reach, are available in Richland County, ranging from the local public transit system, Richland County Transit (RCT), to retirement community vans. RCT’s fixed route bus service is an example of public transportation, and retirement community van is an example of the human services transportation, providing for “transportation disadvantaged” populations that include the elderly, disabled, low income and children. While the need for these services continues to increase, funding resources remain limited. Passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), has required transit agencies with fixed route service to extend service to people with disabilities. Increased and/or improved coordination of services is one means of potentially increasing the services provided while using the same quantity of resources. A more fully coordinated transportation system may efficiently provide comprehensive and user-friendly public and private transportation services. Transportation programs may share resources, facilities, and information; and coordinate trip reservations, scheduling, dispatching, and passenger trips. Currently, many social service programs that serve the elderly, children, low-income, and people with disabilities either operate independent transportation programs, or have no transportation at all. The result is either 1) duplication in transportation services; or 2) people with unmet transportation needs.
The ATAC Mobility Manager position was formed to meet the goals of the Agency Transportation Advisory Committee to coordinate existing routes and vehicles to bring efficiency to the roster of transportation services that are available in Richland County. Social service agencies within the county can contract with the Mobility Manager to have trips scheduled with one of seven area transportation companies. The Mobility Manager schedules trips based on an analysis of what, if any, special assistance the rider’s needs, the fare for the distance from the riders door to the destination door and any other special considerations for each individual rider. At the end of the month, a single invoice is created for each social service agency which combines trips taken with all the different transportation companies into one invoice. For the Area Agency on Aging, each trip taken by their clients during the month is also entered into their online billing program by the Mobility Manager. You can contact Richland County’s Mobility Manger, Jennifer Gray by email here.
The Coordinated Plan is intended to provide policies, goals, objectives, and techniques used for public involvement, planning and coordination activities to be conducted by the Richland County Regional Planning Commission, the Agency Transportation Advisory Committee and local partner agencies to provide coordinated public transit and human services transportation in Richland County, Ohio. Ultimately, it is meant to broaden the dialogue and support further collaboration between local and regional human service agencies and transportation providers to link people with the transportation services that they want and can use.