NCSL Getting There Quarterly Newsletter

 

Lawmakers Back at work

The first two weeks of January marked the first wave of new state legislative sessions for the year, with 37 state legislatures reconvening and two more continuing year-round sessions. All 50 states are due to hold legislative sessions sometime this year, sending 7,383 state lawmakers to work to hammer out new policies and fix broken ones.

State Coordinating Councils

New NCSL Report on Coordinating Councils

A comprehensive 50-state study of state-level “human service transportation coordinating councils” was just released. Taking a look at  these councils—where state agencies and other groups can work together to get the most out of their diverse transportation services, benefits and programs for special needs populations—is a key strategy to help folks get where they’re going.

NON-EMERGENCY MEDICAL TRANSPORTATION

New NCSL Report on Non-Emergency Medical Transportation

A new web brief discusses the different ways that states are addressing the increasing need for non-emergency medical transportation. Approximately 3.6 million Americans miss or delay medical care because they lack appropriate transportation to their appointments. Many low-income Americans lack the disposable income necessary for a working automobile and may lack public transit options to get to and from medical appointments. This brief provides an overview of the issue and how states are addressing this growing issue. 

state news

2014 Legislative Activity

State legislatures play an important role in facilitating transportation access and mobility for all kinds of users. In 2014 sessions alone, nearly 200 relevant legislative measures were considered in at least 35 states and the District of Columbia. Here are details about some of the 44 enacted bills related to transportation access for people with mobility challenges because of age, income or disability. 

Maine

House Bill 61 Allows the Department of Health and Human Services to make transitional transportation benefits available to families in which one or both adults are working and remain financially eligible for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits. It directs the department to adopt rules on transitional transportation assistance for families who lose eligibility for benefits under the TANF program due to increased employment income.

Illinois

House Bill 3819 Amends the Act on the Aging by authorizing the Department on Aging to make determinations for benefits and the manner by which claimants shall apply for benefits such as reduced fees paid by qualified vehicle owners; free fixed route public transportation services for qualified older adults; and transit services for qualified individuals with disabilities. 

Maryland

House Bill 1238 requires the Developmental Disabilities Administration to conduct an independent cost-driven, rate-setting study to set provider rates for community-based services including the cost of transportation across all service types and appropriate wage and benefit levels for direct support and supervisory staff. It also requires the development of a fiscal billing and payment system tested for adequacy and efficiency in payment and reimbursement of providers for services provided.

Missouri

As part of a larger appropriation bill, House Bill 2014 funds the Medicaid HealthNet Division for the purposes of funding all other non-institutional services including non-emergency medical transportation. 

Minnesota

House Bill 1233 requires the commissioner of transportation to give priority when distributing certain transportation-related funds to create transportation options for older adults, unless that preference conflicts with existing state or federal guidance. It also addresses rates, payment and appropriations for various transportation services and training programs for persons with disabilities.

Rhode Island

The Aging in Community Act of 2014 directs the chair of the Long-Term Care Coordinating Council to create an Aging in Community Subcommittee to develop a plan to provide the needed infrastructure and program improvements in support services, housing and transportation that will enable the state's growing elder population to safely remain living at home and in the community.

Washington, D.C.

Currently under consideration, Bill 20-0889 would create a tax credit and additional support for taxis and transportation network companies (TNCs) such as UberX and Lyft that provide accessible service. TNCs and taxi companies would be required to maintain records detailing their wheelchair-accessible fleet, and must pay a $50 fee for any new vehicle entered into service that is non-accessible. The fees would go to the Wheelchair-Accessible For-Hire Vehicle Service Fund, with funds used for the purchase, operation, training and use of wheelchair-accessible for-hire vehicles in the District. Taxi companies with more than 20 vehicles would have to ensure a certain percentage of their fleet is wheelchair-accessible, peaking at 33 percent in 2020. Tax credits of up to $10,000 would be made available to for-hire drivers who upgrade a vehicle so it is wheelchair accessible or purchase a wheelchair accessible vehicle.  

National news

Government Accountability Office Releases Report on Non-emergency Medical Transportation

The GAO recently reviewed coordination efforts of nonemergency medical transportation at the federal, state, and local levels. In the new report, GAO recommended that the federal Coordinating Council provide a strategic plan and address other challenges in coordination with other federal NEMT programs, giving state-level agencies guidance to improve their coordination efforts.

Government Accountability Office Releases Report on Older Adult Mobility

In a new report examining coordination efforts of agencies providing transportation for older adults, the GAO recommended that the federal Department of Transportation define and report on desired outcomes and collect related data to track and measure progress in achieving results. 

Department of Transportation Secretary Foxx Visits NCSL's Fall Forum

Oregon Senator Bruce Starr (R), NCSL’s immediate past president, was joined by U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx for a conversation about potential long-term solutions for America’s transportation infrastructure.

New Congress Will Need to Address Highway Trust Fund; Long-Term Issues Remain

Expiration of the extension of funds in the Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014 (H.R. 5021), runs out May 31, 2015 without additional action by Congress. While funding remains the biggest obstacle to completing a long term bill, the drop in the price of gas may provide some type of opening to address the issue. The administration continues to back funding such investments via revenues gained from tax reform. It may be tied to an increase in the federal debt limit, which also will likely require action in May.

More Transit in Massachusetts

The U.S. Transportation Secretary announced a $996 million federal grant agreement to extend Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) Green Line light rail service from East Cambridge to Somerville and Medford. The extension is aimed at providing faster and more efficient travel to jobs in downtown Boston and will serve some of the region’s most densely populated communities, where 26 percent of residents do not own or have access to a vehicle. 

New Report on Transit Accessible Jobs Across 50 Metropolitan Areas

The latest study in a series of studies by the University of Minnesota’s Center for Transportation Studies, Access Across America: Transit 2014, examined the accessibility to jobs by transit in 46 of the 50 largest (by population) metropolitan areas in the United States. It is the most detailed evaluation to date of access to jobs by transit, and it allows for a direct comparison of the transit accessibility performance of America’s largest metropolitan areas.

FTA Grant Opportunity for Tribal Transit Programs

The Federal Transit Administration announced the availability of approximately $5 million in funding provided by the Public Transportation on Indian Reservations Program (Tribal Transit Program (TTP). This is a national solicitation for project proposals.

New Phone App will help Blind Riders in Boston

With funding from the MBTA, a new app, called PERCEPT is being developed at the University of Massachusetts Amherst to help visually impaired people navigate Boston’s subway (“T”) stations with an indoor navigation system that one day will allow users to make their way through a T station by listening to step-by-step directions on their smartphones, which lead them to electronic sensors or “tags” throughout the building.

resources

New NCSL Resources

Other New Resources

  • New Funding Opportunity! The Federal Transit Administration-funded National Center for Mobility Management (NCMM) has launched its Healthcare Access Mobility Design Challenge, seeking eight community teams to design innovative solutions to common transportation challenges related to healthcare.
  • Transportation Coordination Enabled By Technology And Innovative Design: This new report from the National Center for Mobility Management profiles service coordination through the use of technology in Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Oregon. The profile is part of the Promising Practices in Mobility Management series. 
  • Census Report: Mobility Is Most Common Disability Among Older Americans: Older Americans With a Disability: 2008-2012, a new report from the Census Bureau analyzes data collected during the American Community Survey, and examines disability status by age, sex and selected socio-economic characteristics, such as marital status, living arrangement, educational attainment and poverty status. The information can be used to plan for the growth in America’s older population.
  • The Innovative Dot: A Handbook Of Policy And Practice.  The State Smart Transportation Initiative and Smart Growth America published a handbook for state departments of transportation to share innovative strategies for meeting 21st century transportation needs. The 2015 edition of The Innovative DOT  builds upon its predecessors with updated content from a growing number of states.
  • Mobility Management News: January 2015. CT Fast Mail, the newest edition of the National Center for Mobility Management newsletter has been released.
  • Community Transportation Magazine: Pathways To Transit Success. The latest digital edition of CTAA’s magazine takes a data-driven look at the current state of community and public transportation, and shares fresh ideas of innovators and leaders from throughout the community.