Travel Instruction and Mobility Management: Two Peas in a Pod

Author: Amy Conrick

Published: March 11, 2014

Contributed by Julie Rosekrans, Training and Technical Assistance Specialist II, Easter Seals Transportation Group.

Headshot of Julie Rosenkrans, Easter Seals Transportation Group

Julie Rosenkrans, Easter Seals Transportation Group

At its core, the field of travel instruction, or travel training, is about education and empowerment.  Independent travel skills, such as safe street crossing, trip planning, and emergency preparedness can be taught, but the key to connecting trainees to the places they need to get to is found in mobility management!

There is a large focus these days on person-centered mobility management, specifically around connecting people to vital community destinations: medical appointments, employment opportunities, and educational and social destinations.  When we understand the need to make various mobility options work for the individual, we succeed in connecting people to places, and isn’t that what mobility management is all about?

In my role as a Regional Liaison with NCMM, I have the pleasure of speaking with mobility managers from a host of different places around the country, and there is exciting work happening all around!  mobility managers, among many other things, help to provide resources and make transportation more efficient. Many are even tasked with improving transportation coordination using existing resources.

CMRT travel trainer on bus with rider in wheelchair.

Marlene Hendler participates in a travel training session on a Central Maryland Regional Transit route in Laurel, MD.

In the transportation field, we hear the word “coordinate” on an almost-daily basis.  Mobility Managers are the ones who truly understand that coordination extends beyond basic communication.  They work on coordination initiatives that often result in more options for those who need the services the most, like the people with disabilities and older adults who participate in travel training programs.

Mobility management and travel instruction both help to address the unique needs of a community.  Many successful travel training programs out there adopt strategies from mobility management initiatives.  Some programs are even housed within mobility management teams at local transit agencies.  There are even mobility managers who double as travel trainers!  The impact of the intersection of travel instruction and mobility management is seen in communities throughout the country.  Florida Mobility Manager Natasha Serra reports that the Commission for the Transportation Disadvantaged’s Honored Citizens Program recently worked with the local Mobility Coordinator’s Office, the community, and transportation groups to sign up 161 citizens for travel training in just one year!

Here are some ideas for intersecting the fields of travel instruction and mobility management:

  • Partner, partner, partner: A travel instruction program will benefit from partnering with mobility management programs, and vice versa.  Use your shared interests to gain funding, promote your services, and market your message to your audience.  Travel instructors often use one-call/one-click centers to educate their trainees on how to gather trip planning information. Think about what could happen if that center also promoted a travel training program!
  • Travel trainer from RideWise and student, pictured at bus stop, share a congratulatory high-five

    A congratulatory high-five marks the end of a successful travel training session with the Ride Wise travel training program in Portland, OR.

  • Money Matters: Remember that travel instruction has been proven to provide cost savings to paratransit services.  Data exist that shows that for every dollar spent on travel instruction program services, up to $4.00 is saved from paratransit operations. When considering implementing a travel instruction program as part of a mobility management system, it is important to analyze the costs and benefits of the program. Easter Seals Project ACTION’s Cost-Benefit Model for Travel Training is a tool that communities can use to do this work.
  • Leverage Existing Resources:  There are so many great resources out there on this topic.  Easter Seals Project ACTION offers training, an on-line community, and resources dedicated to the practice of travel instruction. The Association of Travel Instruction is another great resource on this topic, and offers resources on partnering with mobility management programs.

As always, continue to use NCMM as a resource on this topic.  We are continuously looking for promising practices in mobility management.  Maybe you have even developed strategies for beginning a travel training program or marketing an existing one? We would love to hear about your experiences, challenges, and successes as well as  highlight the  important work you are doing  You can share your practices by completing a profile survey.  You can also comment on this blog to share ideas and resources on the intersection of travel training and mobility management.

We’d love to hear from you!

Have more mobility news that we should be reading and sharing? Let us know! Reach out to Kirby Wilhelm (wilhelm@ctaa.org).