- Author: William Wagner
- Date: February 4, 2022
Bus riders wait for GRTC’s Bus Rapid Transit Pulse Bus in Richmond, Virginia. Increased frequency of service is a way…
MassMobility is an initiative within the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) to support human service agencies and other organizations in expanding mobility for older adults, people with disabilities, and other consumers who lack access to transportation. As the EOHHS Mobility Manager, part of my role is to assist aging and disability service agencies, transportation providers, and others with designing and implementing new transportation services or mobility programming. For example, I have helped transit authorities develop travel training programs and have assisted organizations in developing volunteer driver programs. Recently, a community transportation provider asked me for assistance on a topic I was not familiar with: providing carseats for riders with children.
Jointly operated by the Town of Ware and the Quaboag Valley Community Development Corporation, the Quaboag Connector operates a demand-response public transportation service in ten relatively rural and low-income towns on the western edge of Central Massachusetts. Some riders are traveling with children, and because the Connector uses vans instead of full-sized buses, these young riders need carseats in order to ride safely. Originally, the Quaboag Connector asked riders to provide their own carseats and allowed them to store the carseats on the vehicle between dropoff and pickup so that the rider would not have to lug the carseat on their errand or to their medical appointment. However, due to a recent software upgrade that has increased systemwide efficiency – allowing the Connector to serve more riders – the vehicle dropping off the passenger is no longer likely to be the same one that will pick them up. Not wanting to saddle riders with carrying their carseats, the Connector reached out to MassMobility to research options.
I was excited to dive in and see what I could learn. This topic fit into my mission of promoting mobility management because the Connector was taking a person-centered approach by thinking about what would make the service work well for its riders. This research could also be useful information for services that primarily serve older adults and people with disabilities, as some older adults are the primary caretakers of their grandchildren, and some people with disabilities have children. In addition, the topic aligns with the national Whole Family Approach to Jobs initiative, which recognizes that to be successful, anti-poverty efforts need to support not only workers but also workers’ children.
I began by reaching out to local stakeholders, such as two Massachusetts-based providers that I knew provided employment transportation and specifically allowed riders to drop their children off at daycare on the way to work. I also contacted national partners, including the National Center for Mobility Management and the National Aging and Disability Transportation Center. I posted in the Mobility Management Connections discussion forum. Through this research, I found four different ways that transportation providers approach carseats:
Regardless of their overall approach, some transportation providers offer some type of related support, such as hosting “carseat clinics” or safety trainings for the public on how to install carseats and/or collaborating with local law enforcement or other organizations that have funding to provide free carseats to families in need.
The fourth approach was most closely aligned with the interests of the Quaboag Connector, so I focused my research there. Here is what I learned from the programs I connected with:
This research for the Quaboag Connector is a work in progress. Does your system provide carseats? Do you have additional tips to share? Please reach out to me at email@example.com.
Have more mobility news that we should be reading and sharing? Let us know! Reach out to Kirby Wilhelm (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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