WASHINGTON, DC – At today’s monthly meeting, the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (TPB) voted unanimously to approve nine projects aimed at improving mobility options for low-income commuters and persons with disabilities in metropolitan Washington.
The approved grants for 2012 include continued funding for the rollDC wheelchair-accessible taxicab service, the development of audio transit maps for users with visual disabilities of the region’s transit system, transportation to a regional job training and internship program, and funding to provide affordable vehicles to low-income families.
“This year’s selection process was the most competitive since the TPB was designated as the distributor of this funding. The total amount of funding requested was double the amount of funding available to the region,” said Patrick Wojahn, City of College Park Councilmember and Chair of the Selection Committee that made the grant recommendations,. “The increased demand and competition for projects to help people with disabilities and low-income persons travel around the region is a very positive trend.”
The projects are funded under the Job Access Reverse Commute (JARC) and New Freedom programs of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). The total cost of the projects is $3.8 million, with the FTA providing $2.7 million and the grantees contributing $1.1 million in requisite matching funds.
The TPB has been the federally-designated recipient of funding for JARC and New Freedom grants for metropolitan Washington since 2006. One of the grants funded under the New Freedom program was the launch of the pilot rollDC project in 2011, which brought the first wheelchair-accessible taxicabs to Washington, DC. The demand for rollDC service doubled in the first year, and continues to grow.
The New Freedom grants approved for 2012 include the continued funding of rollDC, both for operational costs and the purchase of seven additional wheelchair-accessible minivan taxicabs, as well as funding to develop downloadable audio maps for blind customers using Metrorail.
The maps, which will also be made available in Braille, will be downloadable audio descriptions of the physical features of Metrorail stations and Metrobus transit centers. Details will include the layout of stations and transit centers, navigational direction, names of entrances/exits, locations of stairs, escalators and station manager kiosks. The development of the maps will be coupled with intensive travel training on how to use the bus and rail system.
“I am excited to see so many good projects move forward with the Board’s approval today,” said Wojahn. “The projects will benefit a range of communities across the region, in particular, the audio Metrorail station maps will help people with visual impairments navigate the system, and the successful rollDC program will provide wheelchair-users with more accessible cabs.”
The JARC grants that were approved for 2012 include transportation to Year Up National Capital Region, a job training and internship program, and Vehicles for Change, a program run by Northern Virginia Family Service, which provides affordable vehicles to low-income families with limited access to public transit.
The JARC and New Freedom projects recommended for approval are evaluated through a merit-based competitive selection process.
Click here to view and/or download more information about the TPB’s project selection process and the approved projects for 2012.