On May 2, 2017 MassMobility, in partnership with MassDOT, hosted the 2017 Massachusetts Community Transportation Coordination Conference. 224 transportation providers, Council on Aging Directors, human service agency staff, advocates, planners, and consumers attended, hailing from Egremont to Provincetown and representing all regions of Massachusetts. Attendance has grown each year and has more than tripled since the first annual conference in 2014 – demonstrating an increasing interest among stakeholders in collaborating to address transportation barriers.
Scott Bogren, Executive Director of CTAA, started the day off with a keynote speech sharing the national perspective he has gleaned from community transportation providers around the country. He reflected on the changes that he has seen in the industry over 30 years, noted that neither "coordination" nor "innovation" is a magic wand that can easily solve all challenges, and opined that while the current political climate is uncertain, the community transportation field has weathered storms before. He reminded attendees that our work is not about the vans but about helping people get where they need to go, and encouraged everyone to focus on service quality - not just cost.
Later in the day, attendees heard from a "Voices from Riders" consumer panel, in which four consumers shared their experiences riding transit, using community transportation services, and participating in travel training. Barbara Kean of Brookline, a senior who volunteers with TRIPPS to help other seniors solve their transportation challenges, encouraged seniors to recognize that "there is life after driving" and they don't need to stay home. She rides the MBTA regularly, but also shared a recent experience of her first time using Lyft. Two regular riders of the SCM Elderbus service in Central Massachusetts highlighted the sense of community they get from using community transportation. They praised the friendly drivers and the friendships they have made with other passengers. Mark Palardy, a student at the Berkshire Hills Music Academy, shared his story of learning to ride the local shuttle with his teacher and then the "big bus" to Amherst with the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority's travel trainer.
Interspersed with the panels, attendees had the chance to attend a variety of breakout sessions on topics such as pedestrian safety for seniors and people with disabilities, volunteer transportation, and accessibility and innovation updates from MassDOT and the MBTA.
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