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DOT Blog on Investing in Transportation, Committing to Healthcare
Two recent postings on DOT’s “Fast Lane” blog focus on strengthening federal investment in transportation and on the FTA’s commitment to connecting transportation and wellness. Read excerpts below.
U.S. Mayors Call on Congress to Act
BY RALPH BECKER, BILL DE BLASIO, MICK CORNETT, RAHM EMANUEL, STEPHANIE RAWLINGS-BLAKE and GREG STANTON
U.S. metropolitan areas generate 90 percent of the nation’s GDP, house nearly 85 percent of the population and move 70 percent of freight value traded across the country. And our cities are only expected to grow even more, absorbing an estimated 66 million more people in the next 30 years.
That projected population growth means even more pressure on our aging transportation infrastructure. And that challenge keeps more than a few of America’s mayors awake at night.
As Secretary Foxx has said before, mayors work at the ground level, where the rubber literally meets the road.
When the residents of our cities can’t get where they need to go without crossing a structurally deficient bridge, that’s a problem mayors need to solve. When businesses can’t get access to the deliveries, markets, customers or employees they need to grow, that’s a problem mayors need to solve.
But when city planners and departments of transportation work to solve those problems and can’t see beyond the next two-month extension of federal transportation funding, that’s a problem Congress needs to solve. And when federal funding has remained essentially stagnant since 2009, struggling to keep up with minimal maintenance requirements, that is a problem Congress needs to solve.
The U.S. Conference of Mayors is encouraged to know that, earlier this year, Sec. Foxx sent Congress a solution to those challenges, the GROW AMERICA Act. And now, with yet another short-term extension to America’s transportation program set to expire in just a few weeks, we urge Congress to move forward on a long-term bill with the increased investment our cities need.
GROW AMERICA would increase transit funding by 76 percent. It provides more funding to high-performing metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) and puts in place a transparent and clear permitting process to speed up project delivery. It establishes an $18 billion national freight rail program, doubles the TIGER grant program, makes private activity bonds (PABs) more available and strengthens the TIFIA loan program.
These are the tools mayors need to build and maintain safe, interconnected transportation networks that support economic growth and allow people the mobility that is so important to making a better life.
GROW even offers a way to fund these long overdue investments, through common sense business tax reform. And it offers a six-year horizon that allows us to plan ahead with certainty, so we can prepare for the future with innovative projects that help us do more than just tread water.
But none of GROW’s benefits matter if Congress doesn’t act. And after 34 previous patches, the clock is really ticking this time.
The authors are U.S. mayors: Becker (D), Salt Lake City; de Blasio (D), New York City; Cornett (R), Oklahoma City; Emanuel (D), Chicago; Rawlings-Blake (D), Baltimore; Stanton (D), Phoenix.
Creative Ways to Make that Healthcare Appointment
BY THERESE MCMILLAN
In Buffalo, NY, a community health clinic is testing the idea of placing a personal “travel navigator” in the obstetrician’s office to help pregnant women develop individualized travel plans to ensure they don’t miss pre-natal appointments.
In Worcester, Massachusetts, healthcare providers plan to experiment with a web-based app that searches for the quickest available public transportation when they schedule patient appointments, hoping to reduce no-shows. ...
The GO Buffalo Mom, Worcester’s Smart Transit for Health Care, and Mobility Management to Reduce Re-Hospitalizations are three of 16 recipients of the Healthcare Access Design Challenge grants announced earlier this month as part of FTA’s Rides to Wellness initiative. The National Center for Mobility Management (NCMM), an FTA-funded technical assistance center, awarded close to $400,000 in grants to devise solutions to better connect residents with healthcare services. Grant funding comes from DOT’s Ladders of Opportunity initiative.
Rides to Wellness is a multi-agency strategy to help people access non-emergency healthcare services. In March, FTA
joined with the Departments of Health and Human Services, Veterans Affairs and Agriculture to address a longstanding—but often overlooked—barrier to improving American healthcare: lack of transportation.
The Affordable Care Act opened up new opportunities for healthcare throughout the U.S. However, affording healthcare is not the only challenge facing Americans. Actually getting to the doctor’s office or health clinic can pose an insurmountable obstacle for those without cars, particularly for the elderly and those in rural areas with limited public transportation.
[A] recent report from Eldercare Locator shows that 19 percent of all calls seeking care resources were transportation-related. As Sandy Markwood, CEO of the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging—which runs the Eldercare Locator service—told USA Today, “You can have the best services in the world in the community, but if people can’t get to them, they have no value.”
NCMM’s grant program tests community-based ideas, from providing transportation to post-hospitalization appointments to promoting preventative care. Grantees were required to conduct customer-focused research to ground their projects in real-life situations. In Fremont, OH, the WSOS Community Action Commission, a nonprofit community action agency, interviewed dialysis patients while they rode the bus. ...
I’m very excited about the potential of these grants and look forward to sharing more about our progress in advancing Rides to Wellness.
McMillan is FTA acting administrator.
This “Commentary” section features different points of view from various sources to enhance readers’ broad awareness of themes and views that affect public transportation.