President Bush has mandated coordination among human services transportation programs through Executive Order 13330. Consistent with this order, SAFETEA-LU requires development of Community Coordination Plans. The FTA's United We Ride (UWR) program, implemented to facilitate coordination efforts among entities receiving federal dollars to provide and/or contract for transportation services for their clients, has given programs some of the necessary tools.
A factor complicating the potential for coordinating human services transportation, however, is the lack of comparable resource-allocation information among the 62 human services programs (as identified by the Federal Interagency Coordinating Council on Access and Mobility (CCAM)) that provide transportation services. This lack of information impedes the development and implementation of transportation coordination among service providers and contractors. For a solid foundation to be developed for human services transportation coordination, decisions need to be based on quantifiable data, not assumptions or estimates. Advocacy for coordination with little data to inform the discussion will result in a modest effort with no means to determine if these efforts are having a positive impact. Validly identified costs can foster the coordination of services through optimized flexing of funding sources, capital assets, and human assets. Methods need to be developed for the clear, concise, and consistent reporting of human services transportation costs. Cost reporting (i.e., cost-recording and cost-tracking) methods are necessary, but not sufficient; guidance is also needed for facilitating cost-sharing agreements.
As a recently released CCAM report to the President on Executive Order 13330 stated:
The regulatory review of the 62 human service transportation programs found little uniformity in program delivery, reporting, and eligibility requirements. Many of the programs cited by the 2003 GAO report support that human service transportation have uniquely different primary missions such as the provision of employment or health care services. No single law or statute created federal human service transportation programs, meaning that there is no single or uniform requirement on how they are delivered, and each program developed its own idiosyncratic regulations, eligibility requirements, and operating procedures. Because they have developed autonomously, many Federal programs also unwittingly fund the same type of service as other Federal programs. At least 37 programs have been identified that provide reimbursement to consumers for transportation expenses in order to access employment, health care, or other specific types of services. At least 26 programs fund the purchase of vehicles, the operation of vehicles, and/or facilitate contractual arrangements with existing providers. Eight programs provide transportation to school. The problem stems more from a lack of coordination between programs and the resulting gaps, duplications, and inefficiencies in service.
Finding all transportation money within programs and clarifying how it is allocated is a vast undertaking, but, before there is serious discussion about regional dispatching or changes to funding distribution methods, all resources must be identified. Because there may be multiple service providers in a community, current cost information on these services is scattered and difficult to assess. Community plans and UWR frameworks are a means to get individuals (representing entities that receive federal dollars to provide or contract for transportation services for their clients) to the table to begin the necessary dialogue. Without consistent reporting methods for all programs, however, meaningful coordination will be difficult to impossible to fully implement. For efficiency and resource maximization, there is a need for all programs to be able to compare equivalent data.
The objective of this research is to develop a toolkit for analyzing and reporting human services transportation costs that can be used by urban and non-urban areas in facilitating locally developed, coordinated public transit/human services transportation cost-sharing agreements. Accomplishment of the project objective will require at least the following tasks.
The final report has been published as TCRP Report 144