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CITY OF FREMONT'S TRAVEL TRAINING PROJECT CASE STUDY

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CITY OF FREMONT'S TRAVEL TRAINING PROJECT Fremont, a city of 190,000 located in the suburban southern portion of AC Transit's service area, has developed a promising program to increase the personal mobility of the elderly and people with disabilities. Its Travel Training Project was conducted from July, 1993 through June, 1996 with funds from AC Transit District, the Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART), and Union City Transit in the cities of Fremont, Newark, Union City, Hayward and San Leandro. Goals were to expand travel options and create long term behavioral change by training this population to ride fixed-route, public transit. One impetus of the program was to reduce the costs and demands on the paratransit systems resulting from the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Under ADA, transit agencies cannot limit the number of paratransit trips provided to ADA-eligible persons. Training those who are able to take the bus and BART saves the agencies the cost of providing the more expensive paratransit trip. In turn, more space is available for those who are unable to ride public transit. Traveling by bus and BART also saves the user money. Riders pay from $2- $6 per trip on paratransit, depending on distance, but only 60 cents per trip under AC Transit's elderly and disabled fare. In addition, using public transit gives the rider greatly increased flexibility to take trips when desired, instead of having to schedule trips in advance on paratransit. PHILOSOPHY BEHIND PROJECT DESIGN Beyond the transportation element of the program, the travel training project had a goal to encourage empowerment and independent living among participants. Therefore, central to the philosophy of the program's design was that training should occur in groups with peers as travel training assistants. Many empowerment models are based on the psychology of group learning. The group design allows for a synergy among participants, where one student, who may be shy or lacking in confidence, can learn from others just by watching. In the travel training classes, students can also put their own physical abilities into perspective by comparing their situation with the frailties and disabilities of ether learners. Bv contrast. in one-on-one training models, one person is the authority and the other person is the learner. This model can put pressure on an anxious learner to perfo~-~. According to the program's designers, the one-on-one model also does nothing to address the need for friendships and socialization among seniors and people with disabilities, who often have been isolated in their homes. ~ - _ ~ ~,~ 7 Finding peers to act as travel training assistants was also a key component of the program's design. Six assistants were hired as temporary, part-time employees of the City of Fremont's Human Services Department. 1 They were

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senior citizens and persons with disabilities who used public transportation and could serve to mode! successful travel behavior. As role models, the assistants could reduce the stigma associated with being disabled. Within the group setting, they were paired with an individual to assist with reading, writing, and walking safely. The assistants were instructed not to "help" students by performing the tasks for them, but simply to aid the students with any difficulties. Assistants were chosen for their experience in working with this population. They were given an eight-hour training session and participated in stay meetings reviewing policy and program issues. The travel assistants were supervised by a city management employee. The program administrator was a contractor to the City of Fremont who hired two teachers. The teachers themselves had disabilities and, thus, could speak knowledgeably about overcoming their fears and becoming public transportation users. CURRICULUM The Travel Training program consisted of six classes, each three hours long. At first, the classes were held once a week. Because participants missed classes due to illness, a second format was added in later phases. In this format, two classes a week were offered for three weeks, promoting increased retention. Participants were transported to and from the classes by paratransit, which was also an opportunity for them to become familiar with each other. The first meeting was in a classroom setting, usually at a senior center or agency site where people with disabilities were served. As an icebreaker, participants played Travel Bingo, allowing staff to assess the mobility and social interaction of students. Discussions were held on travel motivation, responsibilities of transit agencies and riders, and safety. In the second class, AC Transit or Union City Transit provided an out-of- service bus and a public outreach stay member. Participants practiced getting on and oh the lifts and kneeling buses and in and out of the bus seat. They determined whether they were more comfortable sitting sideways or facing forward. They also found where they lived on an enlarged bus map, what buses served them, and how to read the schedule. The group then planned a collective trip. The third and fourth classes consisted of bus trips. On the second bus trip, participants also practiced making a transfer. The last two trips were on BART, where participants practiced purchasing tickets, using the elevator, riding the train, and locating bathrooms, telephones, the station agent's booth, and system maps. The last trip was also graduation. Participants got their pictures taken for the Regional Transit Discount Card and received certificates of completion and a free senior and disabled BART card, AC Transit pass, and Union City Transit pass. 2

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Six Phases, totaling thirty sessions, were held with an average of 10-15 in a group. Altogether about 300 people were trained. A "typical" participant was a woman, approximately 70 years old, who was ADA eligible with vision, heart, spinal or arthritis problems. Two classes were taught in Spanish and another in Farsi by native speakers, with class handouts translated into these languages. DIFFICULTIES ENCOUNTERED A major impediment was the need for additional liability insurance to cover participants who might be injurer! on the transit trips. No public agency involved was willing to add this coverage. The problem was resolved when the program administrator who had contracted with the City of Fremont to design and oversee the project agreed to add the coverage to her business insurance and bill the program for the cost. There was never a need to invoke the coverage. The City of Fremont staff wanted to offer Travel Training as a preventative program to seniors not yet certiOed as ADA eligible. The goal would be to train people before they become incapacitated enough to qualify for ADA assistance, thereby preventing a dependency on paratransit. Two of the transit operators who funded the program, however, wanted to limit funding only to participants who qualified under ADA. Those who did enroll in the Travel Training were promised that they would not lose their eligibility for paratransit. There would be a strong disincentive to enroll in the program if participants would be ineligible, by definition, for paratransit after learning to take fixed-route transit. Staff designing the Travel Training Project also rejected the idea that training be restricted to those found ineligible for paratransit. Disgruntled participants could be a liability risk if they tried to prove they could only use paratransit. During the period of the Travel Training Project, AC Transit and BART formed a paratransit consortium. The consortium was formed to meet ADA requirements to provide paratransit services comparable to their services for the general public. Whereas paratransit had been offered by the various cities within the transit operators' service areas, it now became a responsibility of the transit operators themselves. The successful bidder for the consorti~'m's contract also included a one-on-one travel training component. Because AC Transit and BART were, thus, paying for travel training through this new contract, they terminated their funding for the City of Fremont's Travel Training Project in June, 1994. Fremont, Union City, and Newark continued to fund Travel Training with the cities' allocation of a countywide transportation sales tax until June, 1 996, when a loss of other funds forced them to discontinue the project. They intend to reinstate a smaller version of the Travel Training Project for their own residents in Summer, 1997 from the sales tax allocation. There is a long waiting list for Travel Training, which will be offered to non-ADA eligible participants as well. 3

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EVALUATION Classes were free to all participants. In exchange, participants agreed to keep a diary of their trips following the conclusion of the class. They were then called 30, 90 and iS0 days after the classes to determine whether the classes had resulted in increased mobility and expansion of travel options. At the end of the first year, Fiscal Year 1993-94, these followup phone calls showed that 4,008 one- way trips on public transit had been taken by the 106 participants in Phases ~ and Il. These results demonstrate that the goal of long-term travel behavioral change had been achieved. To measure whether travel training resulted in a reduced demand for paratransit services, paratransit users who had been travel trained were matched with a control group of paratransit users who had not received travel training. The two groups were matched according to gender, age, disability and frequency of Daratransit use for a two-month Deriod and a one-vear period. Data showed that , ~ ,, , _ . ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ tne untrained users took an average or 1ou/o more paratranslt trips than those Who were trained. However, because the sample size was small, "no statistical significance can be attached to the reduction in the number of trips by the trained group when applying standard statistical tests." Nonetheless, the evaluation concluded that "it is important to note that the reduction of paratransit trips for participants is consistent with increase of fixed-route trips for the same group, and therefore, it would suggest that trained participants are shifting at least some trips from paratransit to fixed-route travel.) In order to add a qualitative dimension to these evaluation results, one participant and two peer travel assistants were interviewed as part of this TCRP research. The three emphatically agreed that travel training bolstered the confidence and self-esteem of participants and reduced their fear of travel by public transit. One participant interviewed was a man in a wheelchair who fo~-~erly used only paratransit and now takes an AC Transit bus to college. Whereas he used to spend $32 per month on paratransit, his travel to school now only costs him $~l per month for a disabled bus pass. He has increased the frequency of his other travel, going shopping after class and attending events, such as the county fair. He says he "no longer feels like a burden" having to ask others for rides. The others interviewed were a woman who taught twelve elderly Afghan women in their own language and a senior citizen who trained others to take the bus to the senior center where she worked. The senior citizen reported that her students, who could only go to the center if they could find a ride, now attend frequently for meals and to meet new friends. The Afghan women, who also do not drive, no longer suffer stress and depression from their isolation, according to the peer assistant. They visit other Afghan friends in the community and their children in other cities; no longer need to bring along family members to doctor's appointments, because they can ride the bus to the Afghan doctor; and go shopping at the mall. The women display their graduation certificates proudly on 4

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their walls, and their children have called to express grateful appreciation for the Travel Training Project. MEASURING TEIE: COST AND BENEFITS OF TEIE: TRAVEL TRAINING PROJECT AC Transit, BART, and Union City Transit funded the project from 1993-96. The budget for Phases ~ and IT was $120,000 for Fiscal Year 1993-94. This includes $60,000 for project coordination, program administration, outreach, overhead, evaluation and training the trainers. Actual training of 106 persons, including stay salaries, travel, and materials, cost an additional $60,000. Because this was the start-up of the project, heavy emphasis was placed on staffing and evaluation. The program administrator indicates that these costs were $45,000 per phase in subsequent phases (or about $9,000 per class of S-12 persons). Although the program is costly, the program administrator believes that it is far less costly than training the some number of individuals one-on-one, because many people can be trained at one time. In order to calculate the benefits of investing in travel training for both the users and the transit agencies, this research has used the evaluation results from Phases ~ and IT and extended them over a fiveyrear period. It was assumed that ~ . . ~ ~ ~ .. . . ~ d~ ~ ~ 1 ~ both the member of program participants and the manger or trips per participant would decline by one-tenth of the original numbers in each year following the first year after the training, due to increasing ages and infirmities of the participants. The users saved $! per trip in 1994-96 and, because of a fare increase, save $~.90 today. This is determined by subtracting the bus fare from the paratransit fare. User savings on BART are at least as large, due to the heavily discounted senior and disabled pass. Over a five-year period, participants will collectively save $2S,440. The transit agencies will potentially save $407,442 over five years, assuming each transit trip made by participants offsets one paratransit trip. In 1996, it cost AC Transit $2.35 to provide a fixed-route trip. However, there was no additional cost calculated to provide the bus and BART trips taken by those travel trained. since the participants usually ride o~-peak, when the vehicles have . ~ ~ , excess capacity. On the other hand, the paratransit trip providecl by the consortium costs the transit agencies $25 and, as a demand-responsive service, would not be otherwise scheduled. The table below illustrates the benefit/cost ratio of the Travel Training Project and the net benefits per trip. Although this calculation assumes that only one-half of the paratransit trips were replaced by bus or BART trips, the actual paratransit trips replaced will vary greatly, depending on the profile of the population trained. For example, the participant in a wheelchair who was interviewed converted 100% of his paratransit trips to college classes into trips on AC Transit. The elderly Afghan women did not travel by paratransit at all, so all

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their bus and BART trips were new trips. Frail elderly who have lost some confidence in their physical abilities may have a trip conversion rate somewhere in between these two examples. The benef~t/cost ratio of 1.9 means that for every $l invested in the program, the benefit is $1.90. Adding the users' and the transit agencies' benefits together and subtracting the program costs, the net benefit per trip is $4.96. CALCULATION OF ECONOMIC INDICES ~., Provider savings = potential provider ~$407,442 x 0.5 = $203,72 savings x proportion of bus or BART trips replacing paratransit trips Plus user savings $2S,440 Equals: total savings $232,161 Divided by program costs $120,000 Equals benefit/cost ratio 1.9 Total trips over 6 years 22,660 Net benefits per trip I $4.95 ll The user and provider savings shown above have been discounted at 4% interest to find their equivalent present worth for comparison with the program cost. Conversion of total savings and costs to equivalent annual amounts would result in annual savings of $52,150 versus annual costs of $26,956, still producing a benefit/cost ratio of 1.9. SOCIETAL BENEFITS There are societal benefits from the Travel Training Project that are evident from this research, although they are unquantifiable. These include: . A more full participation in society by the elderly and persons with disabilities. New tax dollars spent by people who now have access to shopping and services. An enhanced image of fixed-route transit's usefulness and safety, due to ridership by a wider segment of the population. The Travel Training Project has won the Helen Putnam Award for Excellence from the League of California Cities and has won an award from the National Organization on Disability. 6

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REFERENCES 1. Project Evaluation, June 1994. 7

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