Survey Input Needed for Local Public Transit Plan Update
The Coordinated Public Transit Human Services Transportation Plan prepared by the Northeast Missouri Regional Planning Commission determines local transit services eligibility for federal funding.
Submitted by Chris Feeny, NEMO RPC
MEMPHIS, MO — 5/18/2023 – Is access to public transportation available in your community? Is your access to medical appointments, work, or other key destinations limited due to a lack of transportation options? These are the types of questions Northeast Missouri Regional Planning Commission (NEMO RPC) is asking in a new public survey (https://www. surveymonkey.com/r/BCZTL9J). (For additional methods to participate see the print advertisement elsewhere in this publication.) The data collection efforts are part of the organization’s work to update the local public transit plan.
As a designated Regional Planning Commission created by the State of Missouri to serve Adair, Clark, Knox, Lewis, Schuyler and Scotland counties, NEMO RPC plays a key role in the state and federal transportation planning framework. The RPC is
tasked by the Federal Department of Transportation and the Missouri Department of Transportation with the creation of a Coordinated Public Transit Human Services Transportation Plan and updating the document every five years.
Federal transit law requires that projects selected for funding under the Enhanced Mobility for Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities (Section 5310) Program be “included in a locally developed, coordinated public transit-human services transportation plan,” and that the plan be “developed and approved through a process that included participation by seniors, individuals with disabilities, representatives of public, private, and nonprofit transportation and human services providers and other members of the public” utilizing transportation services.
The public transit plan is central to local efforts to secure funding to help improve mobility for seniors and individuals with disabilities by removing barriers to transportation service and expanding transportation mobility options. Section 5310 funds support transportation services planned, designed, and carried out to meet the special transportation needs of seniors and individuals with disabilities in all areas – large urbanized (over 200,000), small urbanized (50,000-200,000), and rural (under 50,000). Eligible projects include both “traditional” capital investment such as buses and vans; wheelchair lifts, and ramps; transit-related information technology systems, including scheduling/routing/one-call systems; and acquisition of transportation services under a contract, lease, or other arrangement; and “nontraditional” investment beyond the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) complementary paratransit services like travel training; volunteer driver programs; creating accessible paths to public transit stops; or even purchasing vehicles to support new accessible taxi, ride sharing or vanpooling programs.
Section 5310 funds are apportioned among the states by a formula which is based on the number of seniors and people with disabilities in each state according to the latest available U.S. Census data. While states and designated MPOs and urban areas are direct recipients, eligible subrecipients include private nonprofit organizations, states or local government authorities, or operators of public transportation.
Because of its key role in the federal funding process, the local public transit plan is routinely updated to ensure that current transportation needs are being sufficiently addressed. These updates are combined into official public transit plan publications every five years. The process is fueled by grassroots community input that relies on surveys of transit users like the one being performed by NEMO RPC, along with public meetings of focus groups as well as individual stakeholder interviews, topped off by analysis of local trends, demographics and other key data, with the sum of the work becoming a public transit plan to help guide existing public transportation providers toward upgrades and improvements that will enhance available services while also fostering new private/public partnerships that can take advantage of emerging technologies to continue to expand the public transportation options for the region’s citizens.
The NEMO RPC Transportation Advisory Council, which prioritizes local transportation needs with the Missouri Department of Transportation, has identified additional funding for OATS Transit, the lone public transit provider in northeast Missouri, as a top priority. This is just one example of the local transit plan in action.
The ongoing update of the local plan will include an assessment of available services that identifies current transportation providers – public, private, and not-for-profit. The public survey will help perform an assessment of the transportation needs of local residents and help identify gaps in service that may exist for elderly, persons with disabilities, or low-income households. As part of the process, strategies and activities will be developed that would address the identified gaps in service and priorities of implementation based on available resources will also be developed.
Development of the plan must include an opportunity for all interested parties to participate. The planning process includes human service agencies, local governments, private and public transit providers, and potential riders as well as members of the general public. If you would like to participate beyond the survey response, or offer additional feedback, please contact Chris Feeney at NEMO RPC (firstname.lastname@example.org or 660- 4657261 ext. 6).