Washington, D.C. - As metropolitan Washington’s designated recipient of the Enhanced Mobility Program, a federal program to enhance transportation for seniors and individuals with disabilities, the Transportation Planning Board (TPB) approved nearly $8 million in funding for a slate of projects proposed by local governments and nonprofits.
A grant solicitation for these funds was conducted last year, and a TPB selection committee reviewed applications and recommended 21 projects for funding.
“The Enhanced Mobility grants impact the everyday lives of some of the most vulnerable people in our region,” said TPB Member and City of College Park Mayor Patrick Wojahn, who chaired the selection committee. “These grants help the region’s residents get to work, get to the doctor, or stay engaged with their communities. I’m proud that the TPB can play a role in improving their quality of life.”
Projects to be funded through the Federal Transit Administration's (FTA) Section 5310 Enhanced Mobility of Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities Program include travel trainings, volunteer driver programs, transportation voucher programs, wheelchair accessible taxis, and vehicle acquisitions, such as:
- The Arc of Northern Virginia’s training of K-12 staff to in turn provide individualized travel training for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, helping them to use public transit.
- Twelve paratransit vehicles to replace a portion of the aging WMATA fleet used to provide the ADA-required MetroAccess service for eligible customers across the region.
- Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission’s Wheels to Wellness vouchers, which subsidize health-related trips by taxi for those not eligible for Medicaid non-emergency transportation.
- Wheelchair accessible taxis to serve Montgomery County and the District of Columbia.
- Jewish Council for the Aging’s regional volunteer driver resource center that will provide community-based organizations with technical assistance to start or enhance volunteer driver programs.
One of the projects to receive funding, Wheels to Wellness, provides medical transportation assistance for seniors and those with disabilities. Katie Lane, a resident who uses the service, said that she likes being able to schedule appointments at a time that is convenient for her. She does not have to rely on others to access the care she needs.
“Wheels-to-Wellness has helped me to take care of my health and be independent,” said Lane. “I can call [a cab] and go do it on my own. I recently tore ligaments in my foot and couldn’t use the bus like I wanted to, so the cab service is perfect.”
The TPB was tasked with administering the FTA's Section 5310 Enhanced Mobility of Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities Program by the governors of Maryland and Virginia and the mayor of the District of Columbia in 2013.
The TPB has been funding locally developed projects for several years that make a difference in the everyday lives of people with disabilities or older adults from wheelchair accessible cabs to door through door transportation. Prior to the Enhanced Mobility Program, the TPB oversaw the Job Access and Reverse Commute (JARC) and New Freedom programs. Under TPB stewardship from 2007 to 2013, these programs funded $25 million in mobility services, programs and training across 66 projects.