COVID-19 has disrupted our economy and society and will continue to impact aspects of American life for years to come. The crisis has exposed inadequate community-level and state/regional systems for ensuring the health and wellbeing of vulnerable Americans. The public transportation sector’s mobilization of resources and coordinated action has been critical in enabling many transportation-disadvantaged people to satisfy essential needs and reach jobs to support their families and society at large.
Current public transit operations have shifted due to COVID-19. At a time when demand for transit rides is lower and some service has been reduced, transit agencies are pivoting to deploy resources for other temporary “incidental uses” to respond to the public health crisis. Incidental use refers to a transit system’s use of federally funded assets by another public or private entity for non-transit purposes. Incidental use of federally funded assets is permitted for FTA recipients of funding under all FTA grant programs, and is being widely utilized during the COVID-19 public health crisis. There are also other kinds of creative partnerships and funding arrangements that can extend resources to more holistically address community needs.
Transit agencies are mobilizing resources and engaging in creative incidental use and other partnerships to carry out essential services like meal delivery, delivering laptops and hotspots to school children, and transporting essential health workers. Through these incidental uses of vehicles and facilities public transit agencies across the country are keeping workers actively employed while expanding equitable access in unprecedented ways. Through creative partnerships at the state, regional and local levels, these partnerships are expanding access to essential services, especially for the transportation disadvantaged in entirely new ways.
The synthesis objectives are to:
· Document COVID-19 public transportation incidental use and other cross-sector partnerships for essential services, how the partnerships developed, and what critical services were provided to the community;
· Identify how the partnerships aligned public transportation funded assets with community needs during the COVID-19 public health emergency, and how these partnerships could be utilized in the future as well as in future emergencies;
· Record data collection practices, including communities who shared relevant data to help assess excess capacity, gaps in services, and community needs; and
· Understand policy guidance necessary to sustain pandemic- catalyzed- partnerships in ‘normal’ times, identifying opportunities to leverage federal transportation funding from non-DOT federal agencies to meet community needs.
Information To Be Gathered will include specific items as determined by the panel during the first panel meeting.
How the Information Will Be Gathered:
· Targeted Survey of transit systems.
· Survey of the FTA-funded National Center for Mobility Management (NCMM)’s Regional Liaisons
· Follow up interviews with selected agencies
· Information sources include the following relevant organizations:
FTA-funded national technical assistance centers:
o National Center for Mobility Management (NCMM); Director, Amy Conrick
o National Rural Transit Assistance Program (NRTAP); Director, Robin Phillips
o National Aging and Disability Transportation Center (NADTC); Director, Carol Wright Kenerdine
o Shared Use Mobility Center (SUMC); Director, Al Benedict and
National Center for Applied Transit Technology (N-CATT); Director, Andrew Carpenter
First Panel: TBD
Teleconference with Consultant: TBD
Second Panel: TBD