Mobility Management Services Growing in Northern Region
CSSMV Mobility Manager Michelle Caserta-Bixler has recently developed Transportation Guide booklets for Darke and Shelby Counties. The booklets, both of which are titled “Stay Connected,” include information about public transportation, providers, and other resources.
Both booklets begin with the definition of Mobility Management as an innovative approach to managing and delivering coordinated transportation services to customers, with a particular focus on transportation-challenged populations including seniors, individuals with disabilities, and low-income riders. Mobility Management seeks to educate and empower the customer and to identify service gaps to improve public transportation in the county. Instead of looking to a single transportation service or solution to a county’s needs, Mobility Management embraces a “family of services” philosophy and offers local and regional solutions to meet the community’s needs and visions.
Readers learn basics of public transportation such as how to plan a trip, what to pack for a trip, how to schedule a trip with a transportation provider, and how to board and exit a bus safely. The booklet also addresses travel trainers, individuals trained to assist riders who may have special needs like wheelchairs or walkers.
The Darke County booklet lists providers that include the Greenville Transit System, ride sharing options, and Darke County Veterans’ Services. Phone numbers, hours of service and rates are detailed. There is also contact information for various agencies including the Darke County Department of Job & Family Services, the Miami Valley Community Action Partnership, Darke County United Way, and Catholic Social Services. A map of walking and biking trails and tips on bike safety are also included.
The Shelby County booklet has similar listings including Shelby Public Transit and a connecting service to Miami County, ride sharing, and the Shelby County Veterans’ Service Commission. Agencies listed include the Shelby County Department of Job and Family Services, Shelby County United Way, and Catholic Social Services. The booklet also has a map of the park system in Sidney where there are walking and biking trails.
“We are trying to distribute these booklets throughout the two counties, especially to places where seniors and those who are most dependent on public
transportation tend to gather,” said Caserta-Bixler. “The more resources we can put in people’s hands, the better chance we have of starting to meet their needs.”
Despite the efforts of CSSMV and other stakeholders, public transportation options in rural areas remain extremely limited. Many needs are not met because current providers have limited hours of service, are too expensive, or don’t cross county lines. This is why Caserta-Bixler and her team are working on a new initiative that could help close some of these transportation gaps.
The new program will recruit and train volunteer drivers who will use their own vehicles to transport clients to work, medical appointments, shopping, and other locations. A pilot program is planned for Darke, Logan, Shelby, Auglaize, and Mercer Counties.
A perfect scenario would have two volunteer drivers in each county, each subject to background checks and drug and alcohol testing. They would be covered by their own insurance and receive special training to handle the elderly and disabled.
“We hope this volunteer driver program could begin to help those people who fall through the cracks,” said Caserta-Bixler. “We have enough data to show what the needs are, and the public transit we have is not enough. You can’t just jump on a bus or hail a taxi in a rural setting like you do in a bigger city. I think Shelby County has one Uber driver. The means to get from point A to point B that people have in Dayton or even Springfield or Lima just don’t exist in the northern Miami Valley.”
For more information, call (937) 498-4593.
Thanks to CSSMV’s Mobility Management program, both Shelby and Darke Counties now have printed guides to assist their residents in finding transportation information.
New CSSMV employee Tina McClanahan has been hired as a Transportation Community Liaison. McClanahan, a Darke County resident, will work with Mobility Manager Michelle Caserta-Bixler to implement Coordinated Transportation Plans in Darke, Shelby and Miami Counties. She will work with stakeholders in each county to identify changing and ongoing transportation needs.