Earlier this year, CTAA member Mountain Line in Missoula, Mont., created a COVID-19 vaccination map that included vaccination sites and their bus routes for accessing them. I was able to speak with the team at Mountain Line on how they came to create and distribute this important resource, as well as how they plan on expanding vaccine accessibility to all community residents.
For NEMT providers, there has recently been two main pieces of federal legislation passed that relate directly to their services. The Consolidated Appropriations Act passed in December 2020 and the American Rescue Plan recently passed early in March 2021. The following provides a summary of the two pieces of legislation and their impacts for NEMT.
This blog series comes to us from North Carolina, where David Rhew (Executive Director of the North Carolina Public Transportation Association) serves as the state delegate.
On Jan. 28, representatives from the U.S. Department of Transportation, along with presenters from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), provided insight into how the Biden Administration plans on implementing the public transportation mask mandate signed by the President as an Executive Order on Jan. 21.
Federal Health Care and Transportation Policy Update: Looking back on what we missed in November and December
The end of 2020 was a whirlwind for many, and while multiple different news stories dominated the headlines, two major health and transportation policy updates flew under the radar. In this the first installment in a new monthly blog series, CTAA will provide updates on two major federal policy decisions that have ramifications for the NEMT industry as well as those public transportation providers working at the intersection of health care and transportation.
On Jan. 29, 2021, the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (known as MACPAC) provided additional results from its congressionally mandated study of Medicaid non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT). The Final results will be included in MACPAC's June 2021 report to Congress. CTAA's Public Health and Transportation Policy Consultant Alex King listened in, and here are her notes.
Earlier this year, the Heart of Iowa Regional Transportation Agency (HIRTA) was awarded $1,084,257 in part of its Complete Trip - ITS4US Deployment Program. CTAA's Taylor Klocke spoke with HIRTA's Executive Director Julia Castillo about the program and its importance for her community.
Prairie Hills Transit (PHT), a CTAA member serving 15 rural communities in western South Dakota, has received the Accelerating Innovative Mobility grant from the FTA to automate its paratransit dispatch system using Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology. The system will collect real-time field data to replace most radio communication, allowing PHT to manage more rides with the same number of dispatchers and decrease costs.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao announced the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) will award $464 million in transit infrastructure grants for America's bus systems and bus facilities. A total of 96 projects in 49 states and territories will receive funding from FTA's Grants for Buses and Bus Facilities Program (5339b). The full list of projects is available here: https://www.transit.dot.gov/funding/grants/fiscal-year-2020-buses-and-bus-facilities-projects. The funding supports projects to replace, rehabilitate, and purchase buses and related equipment, as well as projects to purchase, rehabilitate, and construct bus-related facilities. CTAA has put together an analysis of projects awarded in FY2020, along with a look at the program's growth since 2016 and the project/funding breakdown throughout the past four years.
In anticipation of this year's CTAA Small Urban Network meeting, it's interesting to take a look at a few foundational facts and figures about transit in urbanized areas with populations less than 200,000.
Today, what goes on in the bus maintenance shop is quite different from just ten years ago. Most of us have mastered the repair functions of the bus engine's fuel injection system, many of us have earned our certificate to inspect the compressed natural gas (CNG) system, and most all of us have learned about the federal requirements of the small bus through the Vehicles Maintenance Management & Inspection (VMMI) training of CTAA. However, a new requirement has just landed on the shops work order pages, it is called Covid-19, and it cannot be ignored.
To provide additional resources to NEMT providers during this time, CTAA has collected, read, and analyzed guidance for NEMT providers provided by state Medicaid agencies. Through sharing the State by State COVID-19 NEMT Guidance Tool, CTAA hopes that NEMT providers, brokers, and even riders can get a sense of not only the available guidance in their state, but also look at trends across the country on topics such as PPE, Air ventilation, cleaning, payment and reimbursement, and transporting COVID+ riders.
COVID-19 has created conditions that will likely change the ways that we as a society live, work, and play - and in turn, how we get to these places.
The events of the past few weeks have altered the lives of most Americans and drastically changed the landscape for public transit. Systems across the country have adjusted service, transformed vehicles, and supported their communities with new initiatives. The CARES Act has given rural and urban transit operators $25 billion in additional formula-based funding, over double the annual regular allocation for some systems. By pausing to find a new baseline, our transit systems can plan for the future and take this as an opportunity to build improved, more resilient systems.
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, rural transit managers across the nation have found themselves, not unlike their small-urban counterparts, forced to make key decisions on the fly, keeping the safety of their staff and passengers in mind.
If you've been keeping up with CTAA's transit news feed on Twitter (@OfficialCTAA), you've no doubt found yourself reading about small-urban transit systems and their wide-ranging reactions to the onset of COVID-19. The unfortunate truth is that managers of small-urban systems (along with their Boards and other local leadership) are being left to themselves to make the tough decisions about remaining open, reducing service, or even ceasing operations. There has been little to no guidance on when it is appropriate to make these kinds of decisions. In this article, we asked the leaders of nine SUN-member systems to discuss their thinking and their approach to this critical question. It is our hope that the discussion assists other CTAA SUN members.
It's well known that the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically impacted rural and urban transit systems across the country, but how has it affected agencies where medical trips are their main source of operations? We spoke with a group of non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) managers about what their experiences have been during this time.
CTAA is actively monitoring developments related to the virus, the impact it may have on our members and their communities across the country, and talking with local, state, and federal stakeholders to develop and share solutions. Given the scale of this outbreak, becoming oversaturated with information can be easy. CTAA knows that our members and the communities you serve are facing unprecedented challenges and changes to your transit operations. Despite these new challenges - CTAA will continue to remain a resource and an advocate for each and every one of you.
President Trump has signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act ("CARES") into law. This $2 trillion relief legislation provided $25.0 billion in relief for urban and rural public transit systems impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. For FTA funded 5311 and 5307 public transportation systems, these dollars will provide coronavirus-related reimbursements (Read CTAA's review of the legislation here). However, for providers in the NEMT space, the CARES Act did not provide any special consideration or benefits. Despite this, there are still a few components where the passed relief and assistance programs could benefit NEMT providers
What is "persistent poverty?" The most common federal definition is that an area is experiencing persistent poverty if at least 20 percent of its population is living in poverty for each of at least three consecutive decennial censuses.
Earlier this year, CTAA and its partners - EMBARK and the Oklahoma Transit Association (OTA) - were awarded the Arnall Family Foundation's Transportation Innovation Grant. The grant is focused on improving transportation for families in Oklahoma County who have children in the foster care system. The CTAA-led team has been working with its partners to develop a pilot program that will increase parent-child reunifications in Oklahoma County through innovative transportation delivery.
CTAA's Alex King and Taylor Klocke traveled to Irvine, Calif., to present their nine-month long project, "Women Lead the Way in Community Mobility." They presented this at Transportation Research Board's 6th Women's Issues in Transportation Conference. They not only had the opportunity to share their project with participants, but also met female industry leaders from across the country.
When looking for inspiration on communities that have embraced the evolving future of public transportation, one would be amiss not to look to Oklahoma City. The public transit system there, called Embark, is one of a growing number of transit systems that offer multi-modal traveling as well as fare payment.