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.
Klocke: What has been the community and stakeholder reaction to this map?
Mountain Line: We’ve had a very positive response from our community & stakeholders. The map came to fruition after we heard stakeholders in the COVID-19 taskforce mention they were having a challenging time distributing information to clients needing transportation to various vaccination clinics. We already provided zero-fare, accessible transportation to within a few blocks of all vaccination locations in Missoula, but knew that people needed a clear, pointed resource to show them exactly how to access each site. We assembled this special route map to show each vaccination location, the address, and the routes that serve that location. We also collaborated with the University of Montana’s transportation agency, UDASH, to ensure our map was comprehensive and accessible to Missoulians and students alike.
We ran this map by local healthcare providers, the health department, City, County and our office of emergency management for input. Each agency responded with gratitude for this easy-to-understand resource. It has since been shared by our local government agencies across social media, is linked on the County’s official COVID-19 website, and is being used by the Homelessness Task Force and Rural Institute (an advocacy group for individuals living with disabilities) as a resource for their clients.
Klocke: Has the major distribution of the map been through your health partners or have you increased it since?
Mountain Line: We only recently started sharing this directly with the public, as Missoula just opened eligibility for everyone over 16 on March 28. Previously, we were relying on stakeholders to share directly with clients. This was a joint decision between Mountain Line and the COVID-19 JIC, in an effort to not overwhelm vaccination sites with walk-in traffic or those not meeting current eligibility.
Klocke: Do you have other plans for communicating transportation equity and accessibility around getting to the vaccine?
Mountain Line: Currently, we share local messaging as appropriate across social media related to the vaccine. We continue to take part in the weekly COVID-19 JIC (joint information center) calls, which involve all stakeholders in the region. We will continue to look for additional opportunities for supporting accessibility, equity and access to the vaccine as they become available.
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.