Current Pandemic Creates Opportunities for Transit and Human Services Partnerships
Josephine Hauer, Judy Shanley
States are adapting their methods to address emergent and unexpected needs of families for transportation as well as a precipitous decline in ridership during this pandemic.
For example, Mid-Coast Public Transportation in Maine had to retool and find new ways to serve the community. They adapted quickly, retaining much of their workforce and continued to meet the needs of families across the state as a provider for Waldo Community Action Partners (WCAP). Like other transit providers nationally, Mid-Coast modified its services and established partnerships to support communities innovatively, beyond its regular activities. They began to implement some of the following:
- Delivering meals to seniors and families.
- Bringing essential workers and their children to childcare and jobs.
- Helping schools get homework and learning materials to children to support remote learning.
- These adaptations spotlight that transit is not just a way to get from point A to Point B – but, a service itself.
Buses, vanpools and rideshares provide critical access to food, health care, broadband, employment, education, and inclusive community activities. When transportation is seen through a whole family lens, possibilities arise that are creative and enduring, even in a post-COVID-19 world. There is suddenly great value in transportation as a service and this comes with new partnerships, connections and roles.
The Covid-19 Pandemic has served as a catalyst for partnerships – especially with those programs such as family services and food programs - we expect these partnerships to last well after our current crisis.
This time of adaptation and innovation for the family calls for even stronger connections between transportation and human services. Fortunately, there are Federal efforts, including the Coordinating Council on Access and Mobility (CCAM), which recognize holistic approaches working across lanes and breaking down silos.
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