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service, as the state already had a well-developed quirement for the Coordination Plan. Section human services transportation plan. Pennsylvania 5307 Urbanized Area Formula Program and also noted that they believe most of the benefits are at 5311 Rural and Small Urbanized Area Pro- the margins, including providing service later into the gram provide funding for more traditional tran- evening and route extensions. More importantly, the sit services for general populations, contradict- availability of the funding has allowed them to meet ing the intentions of the Section 5310, 5316, new needs and to test new services, continuing and and 5317 grant programs. As a result, there was expanding successful programs. general agreement by those surveyed and inter- Many organizations commented that the pro- viewed that the planning requirements for Sec- grams have been more successful than expected. Cus- tion 5310, 5316, and 5317 programs are very tomer demand has been high; in the words of Town similar, and that a combination of these grant & Country Transit in rural Pennsylvania, ridership programs would make planning and adminis- "has grown exponentially, far beyond what the state tration easier for all concerned. had projected." In addition, respondents indicated Respondents stated that by consolidating that human services transportation has also increased the three grant programs, state administrators the use of general mass transit, as customers can com- would have greater flexibility to meet local bine services that meet their needs. They also believe customer needs without the multiple require- that improved information and greater familiarity ments associated with each of the individual with the transportation options available has also in- grant programs. Many respondents indicated creased general transit ridership. that they believe the administration of multi- ple funds that are relatively small in funding Findings levels is time-consuming and requires signif- The Internet survey of state DOTs and the tele- icant staff resources for state and local agen- phone interviews with local Coordination Plan par- cies that are already short-staffed. Since many ticipants conducted as part of this study resulted in agencies are unable to hire additional staff or the development of several findings in regards to the consultants to assist with the process, the re- perceived accomplishment and effectiveness of Co- sponsibilities often fall on existing staff, many ordinated Human Services Transportation Plans, re- of whom have already been asked to take on lated requirements, and grant programs. The find- additional responsibilities. ings from respondents identified in the following While the Internet survey and telephone section revolve around three central themes: flexibil- interview respondents highlighted the benefits ity, administrative responsibility, and transparency. associated with the consolidation of Section 5310, 5316, and 5317 grant programs, other Several respondents suggested the consoli- organizations have indicated that there could dation of Section 5310, 5316, and 5317 grant be potential drawbacks to consolidation as programs. The most frequently suggested im- well. A recent AARP study on Policy Options provement for the human services transporta- to Improve Specialized Transportation noted tion grant programs was the consolidation of that several aging and disability organizations the Section 5316 JARC and 5317 NF programs have expressed concern that the consolidation with other grant programs such as Section of these programs could have unintended con- 5310, 5311, and 5307. Respondents noted that sequences, including reducing the quality of with consolidation, the individual grant pro- Section 5310 services because the target pop- gram goals could still be reflected in program ulations of these grants programs do not nec- and planning requirements, including dedicat- essarily have the same transportation needs ing percentages of funding to each program (2). In addition the AARP study highlights that goal. Section 5310 Transportation for Elderly there are some major issues associated with the Individuals and Individuals with Disabilities consolidation of these grant programs that have was the most frequently mentioned program not been evaluated sufficiently, including iden- for consolidation with JARC and NF and was tifying designated recipients and determining viewed as the most logical by respondents, how the grant money would get to providers. given the similar target populations and re- Under the current grant programs, the desig- 58

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nated recipient is the state for Section 5310 in supplying these services against the baseline and either the state or local agency in large conditions (unemployment, senior/disabled urban areas for JARC and NF. As a result, the population, and distribution of customers and suggestion to consolidate these grant programs destinations); and measure the number of cus- would need to be evaluated more closely. tomers graduating from the need for JARC Suggested federal grant process improve- transportation. Quantitatively, relatively few ments. The study respondents indicated that interviewees mentioned performance measures they felt the federal grant process could be im- playing a significant role in evaluating the proved to be more transparent, timely, sustain- effectiveness of projects, primarily because able, and flexible. Planning organizations ob- they believe customer-focused measures have served that the multiple levels of prioritization been lacking. and project selection may interfere with trans- Those states interviewed that did utilize parency to local officials and stakeholders, performance measures in some manner pri- which would adversely impact the commit- marily relied on standard transportation ser- ment and perceived benefits of the coordinated vice indicators to gauge the performance of planning process. These respondents suggested the programs funded by the grants. However, that more guidance from FTA on the grant se- many respondents believe the use of standard lection and prioritization process could im- performance measures fails to sufficiently prove the understanding of all stakeholders measure the human services aspect of the proj- (local and state) in what the federal priorities ects and often favors urban areas over rural, are and how grant awards match up with the in- because rural areas often have higher trans- tention of the Section 5310, 5316, and 5317 portation costs due to longer distances, dis- programs. persed customers and destinations, and little In addition, respondents stated that im- other infrastructure to support human services provements to the administrative process, par- customers, which may make rural transporta- ticularly the length of time it takes to apply for tion appear ineffective or inefficient. and receive grant money, are desired. They Requests for additional federal guidance noted that the year it can take between grant ap- that strengthens the link between the plan- plication and receipt of funds also impacts the ning process and grant funding. There was link between planning efforts and the projects. concern expressed by some planning organiza- In addition, they believe annual competition for tions interviewed that providers do not always funding of long-term, ongoing projects is re- dundant and wasteful; several respondents felt see the benefit of coordinated planning efforts, that the distribution of funds on a longer sched- given the distinction between the planning ule (such as funding for 4 years) or on a pro- process and the grant approval and disburse- grammatic basis could be more effective for ment process. Respondents felt that federal these types of projects. Many respondents guidance that strengthened the link between the added that greater flexibility for state and local planning process and the grants would be ap- recipients to redirect at least portions of the preciated by both the planning organizations grant money to meet emergent needs or re- and the service providers; this could be accom- direct funds from projects that no longer need plished by providing more technical advice, or cannot use the funding in a timely manner tying grant money to performance measures, would also improve the grant administration and rewarding cooperative efforts. process. Many respondents suggested that some Requests for additional federal guidance funding could be tied to the planning process on performance measures. Study respon- and performance measures, preferably those dents expressed a strong desire and need for identified at the federal level to help improve additional federal guidance on performance the perceived transparency and equity of fed- measures that look beyond basic service in- eral grant distribution. They believed that this dicators and consider the effectiveness of could include consideration of the existing funded projects in promoting job sustainabil- conditions and backgrounds of areas. Some ity; compare the effectiveness of the providers respondents also indicated that performance 59