When DOT helps make it easier for people to get access to job sites, medical services, grocery stores, and higher education, we're not only helping transit riders; we're improving communities.
Two developments last week from the Federal Transit Administration offer excellent examples of how even a small investment can pay important dividends. FTA awarded two grants to help veterans and their families in New Mexico find affordable rides to work, school, medical care, and other destinations. And in Kearney, Nebraska, FTA helped celebrate the opening of a new transit facility that will ensure reliable transit service for hundreds of daily riders in rural Nebraska.
The New Mexico Department of Transportation is receiving $364,000 to upgrade a regional call center in the Santa Fe area. NMDOT will purchase software to schedule on-demand service for people with disabilities, including veterans. NMDOT is also working with the City of Santa Fe to upgrade the city’s existing transportation call center. These upgrades will enable callers to obtain real-time information on bus stop arrivals and will also improve access for people with disabilities.
Also in New Mexico, the Mid Region Council Of Governments is receiving $282,500 to launch a transit website in Albuquerque. The new site will consolidate information currently fragmented across many sites into a single site with easy access to transportation services throughout the Albuquerque region.
Both efforts will provide one-call or one-click access to information that makes it easy for veterans, military families, and others to arrange and connect to transportation options throughout the state.
Ensuring that our veterans and military families have access to quality, convenient transportation is just one way we can thank them for their service. As FTA Administrator Rogoff said, “Santa Fe, Albuquerque and the surrounding counties are home to roughly 155,000 veterans and thousands more active duty military personnel and families who need and deserve access to reliable transportation options.”
Previously RYDE vehicles were parked outside and exposed to harsh weather conditions. Moving them to an indoor facility will be a vast improvement, extending the life of the RYDE Transit fleet and lowering maintenance costs. More vehicles will be able to remain in service, and that means greater reliability for rural Nebraskans relying on transit.
As FTA Administrator Rogoff said, “Maintaining our nation’s transit vehicles and equipment in a state of good repair is just as important for bus riders in rural locations like Kearney as it is for transit riders in cities like Chicago or Boston.”
In addition, FTA is helping RYDE upgrade the technology used to schedule rides and provide drivers with route changes and GPS-based routing. And that translates to more efficient transit service for riders. Greater reliability and greater efficiency will be a welcome enhancement for residents of Kearney, where winter temperatures are regularly in the teens.
Whether they're veterans and military families who can't or choose not to drive or rural residents in search of safe, reliable transportation, all Americans need access to key services, like doctors and grocery stores, and opportunities like jobs and schools. These FTA-supported projects in Nebraska and New Mexico are just two examples of how DOT is helping state and local organizations deliver 21st century transportation across the country to those who need it.