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5 Introduction to Travel Training The Promise of Travel Training Travel training offers the promise of improving the mobil- ity of older adults while also helping public transit agencies control their costs. A simple graphic of this process is shown in Figure 2-1; a more complete logic model is discussed in Chapter 3. The importance of this promise stems from living in an automobile-oriented society where many citizens are not familiar with the benefits of traveling by public transportation or with the procedures and requirements for using available public transit services. Real or perceived barriers to using public transit may be reducing the mobility and the quality of life for older adults who are facing age-related issues that interfere with independent travel. At the same time, many public transit agen- cies are facing severe resource constraints and need assistance in increasing the cost effectiveness of their services. Therefore, travel training can assist in achieving the following objectives: â¢ Increasing independent mobility and tripmaking. â¢ Reducing travel time and cost, and improving connections. â¢ Increasing the use of fixed route transit services. â¢ Saving money for riders and transit agencies by promoting lower cost alternatives to supplement Americans with Dis- abilities Act (ADA) paratransit services. â¢ Improved quality of life for participants. Outcomes for Older Adults Training older adults in the skills needed to travel safely and independently using public transportation services, par- ticularly fixed route services, has the potential to maintain or even increase the mobility of those older adults. Seniors need access to a wide range of mobility options responsive to individual needs to ensure their access to health care, social activities, and other key activities of daily living. When such responsive transportation services exist, older adults can comfortably age in place in their homes, which is the living arrangement preferred by the vast majority of older adults. These training programs can be especially effective for older adults who may face diminishing driving skills but still need or desire independent access to the resources of their broader communities. Age-related impediments to inde- pendent travel by automobile or other modes can include reduced income; declining health; diminution of the physi- cal, perceptual, or cognitive skills required for driving; loss of the driver in the household; or a number of other life changes that typically occur during the aging process and could inter- fere with mobility. Travel training can address and often ame- liorate some of these impediments to independent travel and provide enhanced access to public transportation. Travel training can be the bridge that connects older adults with the freedom to travel on their own terms again. Mary Handley, Delmarva Community Services, Inc. Outcomes for Transit Agencies Existing travel training programs also show promise for being effective tools for decreasing the costs of public tran- sit programs. Travel training programs have been promoted as potentially effective at constraining the growth of costs of ADA paratransit services, which are the most expensive form of service offered by public transit agencies. If older adults can recognize fixed route public transit services as more attractive than paratransit services, the growth of paratransit services can be tempered. With a rapidly growing proportion of the U.S. population now classified as older adults (generally taken to mean persons 65 years of age and older), and with significant C H A P T E R 2
6constraints on funding for many public services, including public transit, travel training for older adults could have a sig- nificant impact on transit ridership and transit finances. This Handbook provides workable techniques for increas- ing the mobility of older adults through travel training pro- grams. This is an extremely important objective precisely because a significant decline in mobility can severely decrease an older personâs quality of life: fewer out-of-home activi- ties, increases in health and nutrition problems, isolation, and depression are some of the specific issues often resulting from a significant decline in mobility. Key Issues in Travel Training Travel training programs to enhance the mobility of older adults can address a number of key issues. These issues include the following: â¢ The prospect of greatly increased numbers of older adults in the near future: â Some of whom will need some assistance in fulfilling their mobility needs. â Some of whom have little or no experience with using fixed route transit services. â Some of whom will live outside public transit service areas or will not be appropriate candidates for fixed route ridership for other valid reasons. â¢ An increasingly uncertain future for public transportation funding, combined with the rapidly rising costs of ADA paratransit services in absolute terms and also as a percent- age of expenditures by public transportation systems: â Can some of the older adults who could conceivably qualify for paratransit services better satisfy their travel needs using fixed route transit? â Is it accurate to assume that their travel needs can be accommodated on fixed route services at essentially zero marginal costs? â¢ A lack of understanding about which travel training pro- grams are successful and why they are successful: â Which programs help increase mobility and why? â How can that information be applied to communities of all sizes and features and their various public trans- portation systems? â¢ Dissemination of best practices: â Certain programs have made significant strides in pro- viding travel training services to older adults; they can serve as respected peer examples for the improvements sought by other transit operators. See Appendix A, List of Information Sources, for relevant contact information. Demographic Projections In the United States, the number of people 65 years of age and older is projected to double between the years 2000 and 2030; projections suggest that there will be about 70 million people 65 years of age and older in 2030 (see Figure 2-2). While older adults of the future may generally be more highly edu- cated, healthier, and more active than their current counter- parts, there may also be a greater number of older persons who have mobility or income limitations. Most members of forthcoming older generations will own autos and will have been automobile drivers for most of their lives, including many of their years after age 65. In fact, many older persons tenaciously hold onto their automobile driving, and some do so even in face of decreasing driving abilities and increasing risk of crashes, injuries, and fatalities. The next generation of older adults is also likely to be more often living in suburban rather than urban or rural areas; this expected spatial distri- bution of residences and trip destinations is likely to pose a significant challenge for public transit providers. While older adults currently travel much more often by car than by public transportation, their use of public tran- sit is growing, and older adults are now choosing public transportation for a greater proportion of their trips. As could Figure 2-1. Travel training outcomes: a simple version. Travel training is provided to older adults Increased mobility and other benefits accrue to older adults Cost reducons and other benefits accrue to transit properes
7 be expected, older nondrivers use public transportation more than older drivers. Recent surveys also show very low use of other alternative modes, such as taxis and human services transportation, by older persons. This indicates a real possi- bility for public transit to play a significant role in future travel patterns of older adults. Trends in Public Transportation Funding Public transit agencies are currently faced with rising costs, difficulties with acquiring and maintaining funding, and increasing demand for expensive paratransit services required by the ADA. Among many other provisions, the ADA requires that paratransit programs ensure that ADA eligible residents who cannot get to a bus stop or cannot use the fixed route tran- sit system due to their disability still have some transportation to get to and from their daily tasks. Many public transit agencies are finding it difficult to provide ADA paratransit services in a cost-effective manner to meet the current level of demand; with the projected growth of the older population, meeting para- transit demands may be an even greater challenge in the future. As public transit agencies search for ways to provide trans- portation to all customers, travel training has the potential to save agency costs by encouraging seniors who experience challenges to independent travel to use fixed route transit or transportation options other than ADA paratransit services for at least some of their travel needs. In recent years, costs to public transit agencies for providing ADA complementary paratransit services have risen faster than the costs of providing fixed route transportation, especially for some smaller transit agencies. ADA paratransit services account for a small portion of transit rides, while fixed route trips account for the vast majority of trips provided by public transit. According to a national survey of transit agencies conducted by the Government Accountabil- ity Office (GAO), the average number of ADA paratransit trips provided by a transit agency increased 7 percent from 2007 to 2010 and the average cost of providing an ADA paratransit trip increased 10 percent during that time period. Further- more, GAO reported that ADA paratransit trips are more costly to provide than fixed route trips: the average paratransit trip costs $29.30 and the average fixed route trip costs $8.15. This Figure 2-2. Growth of the older population. Source: U.S. Census. Transit Agency Concerns about ADA Paratransit Costs â¢ A typical ADA paratransit trip can cost 3 to 10 times as much as a typical fixed route transit trip. â¢ Costs for ADA paratransit services are growing faster than are costs for fixed route services. â¢ ADA paratransit trips are often less than 1 per- cent of a transit agencyâs ridership but can con- sume more than 5 percent of its total expenses. â¢ The demand for ADA paratransit trips could increase substantially in the future.
8situation has led transit agencies to undertake various efforts, including travel training, to ensure that potential paratransit riders understand the benefits of riding fixed route transit. Also, transit agencies are currently concerned about the future stability of funding sources that have traditionally supported public transportation. In July of 2012, Congress passed legislation to authorize surface transportation fund- ing for 2 years: titled âMoving Ahead for Progress for the 21st Centuryâ (MAP-21), this legislation provided a possible $105 billion for the following 2 years to fund road repairs, mass transit, and other critical repair and expansion projects. The problem with that legislation was that the revenues for transportation havenât matched transportation needs and are falling behind. MAP-21 did not address the problem that, for the past several years, gasoline, diesel, and other federal taxes and revenues were insufficient to cover the expenditures of the Highway Trust Fund, which helps fund public transportation. This deficiency required the diversion of general fund reve- nues to transportation spending. Unless new funding sources can be agreed upon, federal transportation funding could be cut. Automatic federal spending cuts associated with deficit reduction include significant cuts to transportation programs. Another issue with the MAP-21 legislation is that it elimi- nated two of the Federal Transit Administrationâs programs that have been instrumental in funding travel training pro- grams: the Section 5317 New Freedom program and the Sec- tion 5316 Job Access and Reverse Commute (JARC) program. The Section 5317 New Freedom program is now included into an expanded Section 5310 program, which is now called For- mula Grants for the Enhanced Mobility of Seniors and Indi- viduals with Disabilities. The Section 5317 program has been a common source of funding for travel training programs. The Section 5316 Job Access and Reverse Commute program is now included in the Section 5307 Formula Grant program as an eligible expense with no assurance that any funding will be used for JARC projects. The initial FY 2013 authorization for the expanded Section 5310 program is more than 30 per- cent less than the combined FY 2012 appropriations for the Section 5310, 5316, and 5317 programs. At the state and local levels, sales tax and property tax revenues used by transit providers to leverage other fund- ing sources have been adversely affected by recent economic conditions. All of these factors create substantial pressures on public transportation providers to operate in the most cost- effective manner, and travel training has become one of the tools used to control costs and enhance ridership. Travel Training: How Itâs Supposed to Work The fundamental premise of travel training is that educa- tion and training can change peopleâs behavior and improve their lives by providing information and skills to increase travel options for older adults. Along the way, this process can support and help change the transportation services that serve the needs of this population. How Changes Can Occurâ An Overall Perspective Figure 2-3 illustrates the theory of how changes occur for individuals and transportation providers as a result of travel training. Through outreach to their partners and poten- tial consumers, travel training programs find candidates for training. Training events can include presentations and orientations about transit and other travel options, group training sessions, or one-on-one training. Figure 2-3 shows the sequences of the next events for consumers and trans- portation providers, respectively. An immediate result of travel training is that consumers have a much better idea of what travel options might constructively address their travel needs. This knowledge combined with skill-based and situa- tional training should lead to changes in their travel behavior (trip modes, trip frequency, destinations, etc.), which in turn result in improved travel options, more immediate services, lower per trip costs, and other improved travel attributes. The improved travel options will ultimately lead to improved quality of life for older adults, meaning greater mobility, more aging in place, and greater life satisfaction. Figure 2-3 also shows the anticipated changes that travel training can generate for transportation providers. An imme- diate result of travel training efforts is often a better under- standing of the travel needs of older adults. This may result in changes in services offered; a typical result is a greater focus on fixed route services by older adults. Note the con- nections diagrammed between changes in the travel behavior of consumers and the changes in services offered by trans- portation providers. These changes reinforce each other and can lead to further mutually beneficial outcomes including changes in travel behavior for older consumers that can result in improved financial conditions for transit providers (e.g., more fixed route revenue, fewer or less rapidly growing ADA paratransit expenses); changes in services offered by transit providers can in turn lead to improved travel options for older consumers. The improved financial conditions for transit pro- viders can eventually lead to an improvement in the number, frequency, and quality of transportation services that they offer or, alternatively, may be able to help offset cutbacks in public financial support for transit services. A Travel Training Logic Model While Figure 2-3 provides a theory of change, Figure 2-4 presents a more specific travel training logic model for these changes that traces the connections between inputs, activities,
Consumers Transportation Providers Outreach to Partners and Consumers Better Understanding of Transit Services Better Understanding of Travel Needs of Older Adults Changes in Services Offered Improved Financial Conditions for Transit Improved Transportation Services and Options Changes in Travel Behavior Improved Travel Options Improved Quality of Life for Older Adults Senior Travel Training Orientations and Presentations Group Travel Training One-on-One Senior Travel Training Figure 2-3. Travel training for older adults theory of change.
Figure 2-4. Travel training for older adults logic model.
11 outputs, outcomes, results, and system changes. This logic model can be useful for travel training program managers and others interested in quality of life improvements for older adults. The purpose of this logic model is to illustrate detailed relationships between travel training activities and their desired outcomes. The inputs to a travel training program include resources, outside supports, mission, guidelines, and standards. The components of each of these are listed in Figure 2-4. Activi- ties that a travel training program will need to undertake are listed, from initial data collection through staff training to presenting the training and evaluating its results. Activities produce outputs, outcomes, and other longer-term changes. There are key outcomes for consumers and for transporta- tion providers. For consumers, better understanding of tran- sit services and enhanced travel skills lead to results such as greater use of fixed route transit, less use of ADA paratransit, greater use of other travel modes, and reduced travel time and costs. For transportation providers, travel training can lead to better understanding of the travel needs of older adults which in turn should lead to improved travel training programs and can eventually lead to transportation system improvements. Long-term system changes for older adults can include more aging in place, which often leads to fewer nursing home place- ments, greater quality of life, and reduced burdens on care- givers. For transportation providers, changed travel behavior of older adults can result in increased income and cost sav- ings, and these changes can lead to increased financial stabil- ity and the possibility of improved transportation services. While these sequences of changes are possible, none of these changes is guaranteed in all communities. Implemen- tation of travel training may be influenced by factors outside the control of travel training programs, including the quality and extent of local transportation services, weather and ter- rain, and local community support for public transportation. Some individuals are more likely to benefit from travel train- ing than others. Factors such as national economic health and local employment trends may influence the extent to which older adults are inclined to use public transit. That said, travel training has great potential to offer significant benefits to older adults, transportation providers, the caregivers of older adults, and local communities. Fundamentals of Travel Training Programs Each community is unique, with its own profile of older adult mobility needs and preferences, past history of efforts to promote such mobility, political climate, institutional arrangements, resource constraints, public transit coverage and availability, and other important features. Thus, travel training programs will need to be responsive to the charac- teristics of the communities in which they are established. At the same time, there are common themes and principles that underlie effective travel training programs, and each community will need to shape these principles in light of its own needs and resources as it undertakes efforts to build and sustain successful travel training. Table 2-1 and this section discuss many of these principles or fundamentals of travel training programs. Program Focus and Orientation The philosophy, vision, and mission of travel training pro- grams should be designed to serve older adults, with savings in public transportation costs being a result, but not the pri- mary objective of the training program. A central program element should be a social services model of service delivery, meaning a central focus on meeting the needs of older adults and the skills they require to remain active, mobile, indepen- dent, and able to age in place if that is their desire. It must be remembered that the typical result of tran- sit agencies saving money on paratransit services through investments in travel training is a strong motivator for such investments. Additional farebox revenues will accrue to public transit systems from older adults who never previously used paratransit service but now ride fixed route service. In the more and more competitive environment for scarce public dollars, travel training programs often need to demonstrate both cost savings and revenue increases to maintain viable funding streams. Program Design, Development, and Operations Program design and development deserve careful con- sideration as they are the basis for many program decisions. Design and development should be responsive to stakeholder needs (both users and providers) and reflect community transportation resources. In addition and to the extent pos- sible, programs should offer individual assessments, as well as both group and one-on-one training. Individual assessments of program participantsâ needs and capabilities serve as a use- ful prescreening tool to help customize the actual training. 1. Program Focus and Orientation 2. Program Design, Development, and Operations 3. Program Instruction, Content, and Staff 4. Partnerships 5. Program Outreach and Promotion 6. Program Monitoring and Analysis Table 2-1. Fundamentals of travel training programs.
12 One-on-one training provides individualized instruction on how to travel safely and independently, including hands-on experience riding public transit. Group training provides an opportunity to orient a larger audience to the basics of public transit including how to plan and take trips. Group training can be successfully targeted to high-volume residential/work locations. By striving for this type of multifaceted and com- prehensive program orientation, travel training can be better tailored to the individual needs and capabilities of the target audience(s) for the program. While there are many older adults who do not need individ- ualized training to fulfill their travel needs, the most successful training programs offer highly tailored one-on-one training. The initial step in meeting individual needs is to explore avail- able transportation options with new customers based on that customerâs specific needs, ability level, and proximity to tran- sit, as well as his or her wishes and transportation goals. An appointment with the customer in his or her own home for an initial interview is a very important means of starting a train- ing program because of the insights it typically offers. In terms of program operations, sustainable funding is a key. Travel training information can be integrated into agency marketing and branding efforts. The training program can be marketed through educational outreach. Written forms and procedures need to be developed as a basis for program reporting and evaluation. Program Instruction, Content, and Staff Program instruction and content will vary depending on the scope of the program, resources available, needs of the target audience, particular strengths of the program staff, and so forth. Having clearly written training materials is quite important as is providing opportunities for âhands-onâ expe- rience like riding actual transit routes. Support for the travel trainers must include quality training, ongoing support, and an evaluation process of their activities. The travel trainers are even more important. It is clear from observing successful travel training programs that competent staff members who excel in customer service are key to pro- gram success. Many times a social services or human services background can prove very valuable. Despite what some peo- ple might expect, the personal qualities of trainers are often more important than job experience or background. Many programs have had substantial success employing trainers with a social services background. The travel trainers must enjoy working with people and they must be confident in what they do. Trainers must be able to connect with train- ees by being sensitive to feelings: if people are losing some of their independence, itâs important that they can still keep their dignity. Personal traits of trainers such as empathy, lik- ability, respect, patience, adaptability, and kindness are cen- tral to this ability. Trainer credibility can also be enhanced when the trainer regularly uses public transportation. Criti- cal thinking is important to trainer effectiveness and having established relationships with key personnel and agencies in the transportation community is a bonus. Finally, trainers must be flexible, resilient, and calm, as they often encounter unexpected changes in the real-world training environment. Being a successful travel trainer takes heart, compassion. Virginia Werly, Riverside Transit Authority Partnerships Successful travel training programs rely on partnerships to support their travel training activities. If the travel training program is offered by the local public transit operator, partner- ships with human services agencies are vital. If an organization other than the transit agency provides travel training, the tran- sit agency is a key partner: it can be a primary funding source and also a provider of referrals to people who either may not be eligible for ADA paratransit services or who transit agency staff think might benefit from using a mix of ADA paratransit for some needs (e.g., travel to doctorâs offices or medical facilities that are not near fixed routes) and fixed route transit for others. Human and social services agencies that provide services to older adults or individuals with disabilities or special travel needs serve a key role by providing referrals and developing travel training programs to assist their constituencies. Senior centers and senior housing complexes are key partners, par- ticularly for group travel training, especially those that are subsidized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Hospitals can be key partners at some sites. The person leading the travel training program plays a central role in building and sustaining relationships with key organizational stakeholders in the community, as well as working directly with program participants. Thus, a dynamic leader with strong interpersonal skills, a passion for this kind of work, and expertise in important areas related to the pop- ulations served can make an important contribution to the success of the program. Program Outreach and Promotion The experience of successful travel training programs makes it clear that promotion and outreach are needed to iden- tify and raise the interest of target audiences. Referrals from transit agencies, senior centers, senior housing projects, and
13 other human and social services agencies are often the result of regular and repeated outreach efforts to familiarize agen- cies with travel training in general and the services of the case study programs in particular. The focus of many programs in marketing travel training for older adults is to promote the lower cost and relative flexibility of fixed route programs as an alternative to ADA paratransit, allowing seniors the flexibility to travel without having to reserve ADA paratransit service ahead of time. Marketing can also increase knowledge of the travel options available to seniors. Many travel training pro- grams publish books or brochures with âsuccess storiesâ about clients who successfully participated in travel training and, as a result, were able to experience a richer, fuller life. Word of mouth referrals from prior trainees can be a highly effective marketing tool. Many existing travel training programs offer training to staff and volunteers in partnering agencies to make them aware of fixed route transit options and the potential benefits of travel training for their clients. Sometimes these programs are called âtrain the trainerâ programs because staff in the human, social services, and transit agencies may provide support to senior adults both before and after they receive travel training. The reality is that programs that provide orientation to the benefits of fixed route service and travel training provide a resource for promoting programs to individuals who are in a position to positively influence the travel training target populations. Program Monitoring and Analysis Demonstrating program results is critical to the success of any publicly funded program. People and agencies who fund programs, who manage and operate programs, and who benefit from services have an interest in knowing if a pro- gram is successful, why it is successful, and how it could be further improved. Performance measurement is a tool typi- cally involved in improving transportation services and other programs by documenting progress toward pre-established goals, such as increasing the number of older adults using fixed route transit services. Itâs important for travel training programs to keep track of the resources they apply to their program (inputs), what they produced with those resources (outputs), and what happened as a result (outcomes or changed conditions), and impacts, which are the direct or indirect results or conse- quences from achieving program goals. (See the logic model linking these changes presented in Figure 2-4.) New tech- nologies can greatly assist in recording and reporting tasks. What this means for travel training programs is that they need to keep track of their expenses and other resources invested in the program, record the numbers of persons trained, and monitor how their training has affected their trainees in the short term and in the long run. This informa- tion will help the programs improve operations to better meet goals, make the programs more cost effective over time, and demonstrate their successes to funders and other key com- munity stakeholders. Benefits of Travel Training Successful travel training programs generate significant ben- efits. The kinds of benefits created by travel training programs can be best understood as benefits for older adult travelers, local transportation services, those who provide care for older adults, and communities. Some of the benefits are immediate and some are long term. Full details of studies describing the benefits of travel training are provided in TCRP Report 168: Travel Training for Older Adults, Part II: Research Report and Case Studies. Benefits for Older Travelers Travel training provides numerous benefits for older adults. It can do the following: â¢ Expand their travel options. â¢ Increase their tripmaking, leading to enhanced mobility. â¢ Provide improved travel attributes, such as no need to make advance reservations, less dependence on paratransit, and less dependence on family and friends for rides. â¢ Offer quality of life improvements, such as aging in place in their own homes or traveling spontaneously, according to individual needs or desires. â¢ Enhance personal development, reduce anxiety, and pro- vide more control over oneâs own activities and schedule. â¢ Improve social connectedness, helping people become active community members. â¢ Provide economic benefits: â Fixed route public transportation costs are generally lower than most other travel alternatives, including ADA paratransit services. â In most communities, older adults enjoy half-price fares on public bus and rail systems at least at some times during the day, versus as much as two times the regular fixed route fare for ADA eligible paratransit rides. â Increased mobility supports aging in place, which can help to avoid or defer the costs of nursing homes. Staff members of several travel training programs see travel training as life affirming. Travel training can change the entire demeanor of trainees by expanding their options for getting around, thereby increasing their independence, spon- taneity, and quality of life. Travel training has been reported by Ride Connection staff to be valuable because âyou can see how the independence to get around changes the traineesâ
14 personalities for the better.â Based on follow-up studies of trainees, many travel training graduates continue to travel by fixed route buses and trains years after graduation. The benefits of travel training programs are reported by those programs in a large variety of ways. Benefits for persons trained included the following: â¢ Via Mobility Services in Boulder, Colorado, reported that one-third of participants surveyed in 2012 reported hav- ing used public transit since they completed their training. Of those, 46 percent reported they get out more than they did prior to training, 60 percent reported that they are less dependent on family and friends for rides, and 26 percent reported less dependence on paratransit. A total of 67 per- cent of all respondents reported more choices of places they could go, and 80 percent reported greater flexibility with their times of travel. â¢ In New Jersey, NJTIP reported an increase of more than 400 percent in the number of trips taken by travel training program graduates (more than 80 percent of whom were persons with disabilities, not seniors). Seventy-five percent of graduates continued to use fixed route buses and trains in the year after graduation, and they used regular bus and train services three times more often than they used ADA paratransit services. â¢ Portland, Oregonâs RideWise program reported that indi- viduals who completed the entire one-on-one training process became successful independent travelers 93 per- cent of the time. RideWise staff members describe travel training as âa game changerââchanging people from shut-ins to community members. â¢ In Sacramento, California, follow-up interviews conducted with Paratransit, Inc. program participants approximately 3 to 6 months after completion of the training have histori- cally shown that between 80 percent and 92 percent continue to successfully use the fixed route system at that point in time. Benefits for Public Transit Agencies The benefits of travel training for transit providers can be substantial. â¢ Because ADA paratransit services are considerably more expensive for public transit agencies to provide than fixed route transit, there can be substantial cost savings to the transit agency if travel training can encourage potential paratransit riders to use fixed route services instead. Even slowing, if not reducing, the growth in ADA paratransit services can be beneficial for transit agencies. â¢ Most travel trainers interviewed emphasized that the pur- pose of the training is to increase the number of travel options available to people rather than to âget them off paratransit.â Travel training can benefit transit agencies by increasing the use of public transit and contributing to a mobility options philosophy (providing people with more options). Some participants reported informally that they used both paratransit and public transit after completing the training, depending on the purpose of trips and condi- tions under which they were taken. â¢ Travel training benefits transit providers since it encour- ages the use of the most appropriate and cost-effective transit options. â¢ A training program not only saves transit dollars, it also creates more space on paratransit vehicles for riders who have no other transit options. â¢ Travel training can build good will in the community for public transit: â The emphasis on cost control makes transitâs funders happy. â Travel training builds good will for transitâs consumers by showing that the agency cares about their needs. Here are a few of the reported benefits to transit providers: â¢ A 2011 study conducted for NJTIP concluded that NJTIP increased NJ TRANSITâs fare box revenue and resulted in savings in Access Link costs for a total of $234,000 annu- ally. NJTIP thus covered its expenses and had a positive return of 17 percent. â¢ In Portland, Ride Connection reports calculations for its RideWise program as a 3 to 1 ratio of benefits to costs over a 1-year period. (This estimate only includes the benefits over the first year that a trainee is using transit, which means that actual benefits could be substantially greater.) â¢ In Sacramento, Paratransit, Inc. reported that, for individu- als who used ADA paratransit services to travel to work, each person trained saved the transit agency an average of $7,000 per year. The actual savings for older adults is likely to be less since many older adults do not travel 5 days a week to work. â¢ Spokane (Washington) Transit Authority uses âSmart Cardâ technology to track the use of public transit by mobility training program graduates. In recent years the program has allowed the transit provider to avoid or defer nearly 32,000 paratransit (ADA) trips per year, resulting in a cost avoidance of $633,989 per year. â¢ In Washington, D.C., a special report on Metroâs travel training program estimated possible savings of $1.5 mil- lion in FY 2011â12 from the travel training program for persons with disabilities and older adults. Benefits to Caregivers Recent studies have found that more than 90 percent of unpaid, informal caregivers for older adults provide some
15 form of transportation assistance, usually by driving the older adults to destinations. Informal caregiving has been linked to poorer health and economic hardship among caregivers. Travel training has the potential to ease caregiversâ burden through- out their support network by allowing at least some of these trips to be made by bus or rail, freeing up informal caregivers for other activities and at the same time saving resources that would otherwise be spent on caring for an older adult. Benefits for the Community In the most general sense, travel training programs can be an essential component for a healthy community. Communi- ties in which older adults are unable to meet all of their trans- portation needs are faced with greater health care costs and a general lowering of quality of life. Research shows that when people lose mobility they are more likely to reduce spending due to a lack of access to goods and services. Travel train- ing can help meet these mobility needs among older adults, which in turn helps the entire community. Potential Challenges to Travel Training Programs There will be challenges that any agency will face when developing a travel training program. Key among them are the following: funding, outreach, collaboration, effective commu- nication of program benefits, evaluation, and infrastructure. Each of these challenges is discussed more fully below. Funding Funding for travel training is not ensured; a lack of funding may limit the full potential of any travel training program. It is difficult to plan for the future or expand program efforts in the absence of stable and adequate sources of funding. Travel training programs must understand how to create a scalable program that can adjust to the economy. Tracking the cost savings of travel training is important to understand how much money a program is saving the community so that arguments can be made for more funding support (for more information, see the section titled âWhatâs Needed to Account for Your Expenses?â). Relationships with community partners are critical to the success of travel training programs because of the opportunity they afford to leverage scarce resources as well as continue to bring people in need into the program. Outreach Ongoing outreach is critical because bringing older adults into the program can be challenging for a number of reasons, including the frequently negative media culture surrounding the use of public transit, the stigma associated with asking for assistance, and the limitations in funding and staffing that constrain the amount of outreach that is needed. Travel train- ers are concerned that public transportation often receives negative publicity from local media. For example, transit safety may sometimes be reported as a much greater problem than it actually is. This negative reporting can restrict inter- est in using public transit, which can diminish participation in travel training programs. An ongoing challenge for the program has been some resistance among some seniors and often among their family members regarding the physical challenges and potential risks of riding public bus lines. Older persons who need transportation are not necessarily associ- ated with senior centers. Targeting program efforts to groups or organizations is economically feasible but may miss many individuals who could benefit from the services. Collaboration Collaboration is essential to developing a successful travel training program. It takes time and resources to establish and nurture relationships with senior centers and senior agencies that work with seniors. Another challenge in establishing a suc- cessful travel training program is the coordination across polit- ical jurisdictions and transit agencies, particularly in terms of scheduling, route connections, and fare media. Creating a col- laborative working relationship with the transit agencies and with the senior living communities and the agencies that work with seniors will help the community in the long run. Examples of productive collaboration arrangements include partnerships with the following: â¢ Public transit agencies: â Via Mobility Services and Denverâs Regional Transpor- tation District (RTD). â NJTIP and NJ TRANSIT. â Ride Connection (Portland, Oregon) and TriMet. â Paratransit, Inc. and the Sacramento Regional Transit District. â¢ Planning agencies or districts: â Denver Regional Mobility and Access Council (DRMAC) and Via Mobility Services. â The Sacramento Area Council of Government (SACOG) and the launching of travel training efforts in Sacramento. â¢ Senior centers and other human services agencies: â The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) in Chicago, Illinois, partners with the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), Metra, and Pace. They also contract with the Lighthouse for the Blind, three Centers for Indepen- dent Living, and a Community Action Agency. The RTA also has contacts with more than 500 social services and human services organizations.
16 â Ride Connection (Portland, Oregon) has developed partnerships with more than 30 separate partner agen- cies in the area, including adult and senior centers, men- tal health clinics, health care providers, and others. â Key program partners for Riverside, Californiaâs Freedom to Go program are county agencies such as the Depart- ment of Rehabilitation, Department of Education, Inland Regional Center, senior centers, and adult day programs. To help overcome some of the challenges in establishing collaborative relationships, programs need to be flexible so that they take advantage of opportunities that arise in the community and remain responsive to the changing needs of the populations they serve. These relationships are the nec- essary starting point for trust, something that is central to program success. Effective Communication of Program Benefits The competition for public dollars requires that program benefits be communicated to public officials. This can be in the form of short reports showing results, but often is most effective with success stories. The sustainability of the pro- gram depends on adequate funding, and funding comes from success. Once the benefits are determined, then they must be communicated in an effective manner. This can be through the use of charts, tables, and oral presentations. Again, stories are a powerful tool. Evaluation In order for a program to be successful, evaluation criteria must be established. While collection of data is a time con- suming and sometimes difficult task, in order to determine the benefits of a program, data must be available to evaluate progress. The evaluation should include financial, utilization, and âquality of lifeâ information. Infrastructure Problems with the infrastructure of the public transit system in the community (e.g., having buses available, hav- ing bus stops that are accessible, having sufficient seating space for seniors) may limit who can benefit from the travel training. Many of the functional ability losses that can lead to older adults having to give up driving can also preclude them from using public transit even if it is available. Thus, an individual may successfully learn to navigate the bus ride itself, but because of mobility limitations, may not be able to overcome barriers associated with getting to the bus stop and/or finding a sheltered place to wait for the bus. Even in the absence of such limitations, features of the natural and built environment (e.g., hills, broken sidewalks, and streets without connections) can pose problems in accessing tran- sit stops. In addition, some destinations are not well served by public transportation, especially in suburban areas, thus restricting older adultsâ opportunities to get to where they want to go using public transit. Other Challenges There are other challenges that travel training programs may face. For example, in cold weather climates, programs may be limited in their ability to conduct training during the wintertime. In addition, staff turnover may make it difficult to maintain stability in programming, or to preserve estab- lished relationships in the community. Some travel training programs expressed concerns about liability issues: due to liability considerations, one program does not allow its volunteer Mobility Ambassadors to meet customers in their homes; the Ambassador and the customer agree upon a public location instead. Other programs have found in-home interviews to be rich in information about potential trainees. These programs typically inform train- ees of the nature and purpose of training, risks involved, the timeframe and extent of instruction, and the traineeâs right to refuse or withdraw consent. The trainee is required to sign an informed consent. Trainees are also asked to commit to the training process. Ride Connection has found that making use of a multi-purpose form that serves as a training consent, release of liability, and release of information authorization is beneficial. The Kennedy Center has separate forms for these agreements. A proactive risk management approach is often an effective way to deal with liability concerns: one way to mitigate risk and liability is to provide high quality service. Important information about liability is available from Easter Seals Project ACTION (see Appendix A, Part 3).