Charles Rutkowski traveled to northern Wisconsin where he visited rural transit assistance projects at the St. Croix Indian Tribe of Wisconsin in Siren, Wis., the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians in Odanah, Wis., and the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians in Red Cliff, Wis.
Conversations with Cherokee Transit Management staff provide valuable information on the agencies medical transportation services, including current challenges and ideas for the future.
In January of 2019, Charlie Rutkowski visited Tupleo, Mississippi along with CTAA colleague Andrew Carpenter and Toyota representative Riley Keen. He also visited with the Catawba Indian Nation near Rock Hill, South Carolina. In both visits, he worked closely with CTAA partners to develop community and public transit options for local residents.
Beginning in 2016, the Community Transportation Association of America in partnership with the Social Innovation Division from Toyota North America worked with elected officials, community groups, and others in Tupelo to study the need for transit service and develop plans for implementing service. In June of this year, the Tupelo City Council voted to supply matching funds to secure 5311 funding from the Mississippi Department of Transportation. For the first time in more than three decades, the residents of Tupelo, Mississippi now have bus service available to meet their mobility needs.
CTAA CEO Scott Bogren traveled to CTAA member Western Maine Transportation Services to discuss community and public transportation with an ideal mix of transit operators, local elected officials, state elected officials, state DOT leadership, local business leaders, workforce development advocates and even passengers and transit users.
In much of the US, the first day of spring conjures images of flowers, sunshine and verdant rejuvenation. When you're on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, the first day of spring is a sign that the winter's packed, gritty snow will be melting someday. But for the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, a different kind of spring - a springtime for tribal transit - began to emerge on this vernal equinox.
This year, two of CTAA's Tribal Technical Assistance Projects are with the St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin and the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa's, also in Wisconsin. In February, Charlie Rutkowski travelled to the Badger State to facilitate stakeholder workshops with each of the Tribes to help identify unmet mobility needs among tribal members.
What can we expect for 2019? CTAA is peering into its crystal ball and we see a switch from state experimentation to federal oversight and support for innovation as well as greater encouragement of the nascent AV industry.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has announced the availability of Automated Driving System Demonstration Grants, which it will be employing as a path to innovate and improve mobility for transportation-challenged populations, specifically mentioning older adults, people with disabilities, and rural residents.
Every January here in Washington, the transportation research and consultant community throws itself a four-day party known as the Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting. It's a major event on the transportation calendar with upwards of 14,000 attendees and hundreds of sessions, committee meetings, poster presentations and more.
While the St. Croix nation provides its residents and its neighbors with businesses, employment opportunities and social services, they are located in an area of Wisconsin that has no public transportation, neither tribal nor non-tribal. That's the negative space that CTAA is beginning to explore with the St Croix nation, with support that we receive from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Business-Cooperative Service.
We are working with the Tribe and ARTS to develop additional services focused on the specialized needs of tribal members and that would attract more tribal ridership. The project emerged from an earlier Tribal Transit Program planning grant from FTA. Our work there is supported through the Tribal Passenger Transportation Technical Assistance Program.
We know that to truly understand the issues, challenges and problems confront small transit programs, we need to see them ourselves. Although we live in an era of instantaneous electronic communications, it cannot replace the face to face conversations that we have with transit managers during our site visits. Our reputation has been built upon the close relationships we have built during visits to rural and tribal America.
The Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA) and its members believe that mobility is a basic human right. From work and education to life-sustaining health care and human services programs to shopping and visiting with family and friends, mobility directly impacts quality of life.