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WSDOT Statewide Planning Human Services Transportation Plan online open house – Goals and unmet needs

Goals

Community feedback helped WSDOT identify three goals for human services transportation in Washington:

  • Goal 1: Accessibility
    Human services transportation is accessible and helps more people get to the places they need to go.
  • Goal 2: Safety
    People feel safe using human services transportation.
  • Goal 3: Ease of use
    Human services transportation is easy to use.
Father and son exiting MedStar vehicle

Unmet needs

Under each goal, WSDOT and partners identified gaps to achieving goals for human services transportation (i.e., unmet needs).

Read more about goals and unmet needs in the Statewide Human Services Transportation Plan [link to PDF]

Goal 1: Accessibility – Human services transportation is accessible and helps more people get to the places they need to go.

Human services transportation is an affordable lifeline for the most vulnerable people in the state. In some cases, these services keep people alive by giving them access to medical care.

A map showing access to transit outside of normal commuting hours
This map shows different levels of access to transit to non-work destinations, such as healthcare, school, libraries, or grocery stores. People with special transportation needs often rely on human services transportation to get to these essential services.

WSDOT identified the following unmet needs related to accessibility:

  • Limited boundaries for transit service areas make it harder for riders to access regional services.
  • Limited access to nonemergency healthcare services means people cannot get to appointments to maintain their health.
  • Lack of public transportation in rural areas creates access challenges for rural residents who are more likely to have special transportation needs.
  • Limited public transportation service hours make it difficult for people with special transportation needs to get to appointments or to jobs outside of traditional peak travel times.
  • Human services transportation options are often unreliable for riders, meaning they cannot get where they need to go, when they need to be there.
  • Cost is often a barrier, even with discounted services.
  • A lack of drivers leads to fewer rides for people with special transportation needs.
  • A lack of coordination leads to riders often being inconvenienced or confused.

Goal 2: Safety – People feel safe using human services transportation.

Safety is essential for all forms of transportation. In human services, transportation providers have an important role in ensuring the safety and comfort of their riders. Riders need safer transportation infrastructure, safer vehicles and trained drivers who can operate all safety equipment. Safety needs in human services transportation extends far beyond the actual trip. Riders should feel safe getting to the bus stop or pickup location, waiting for their ride, boarding the vehicle, during the trip, and when they reach their destination and deboard.

WSDOT identified the following unmet needs related to safety:

  • A lack of safety features and accessible infrastructure at transit stops means just getting to and waiting for transportation can be dangerous or uncomfortable for riders.
  • A lack of investment in rider comfort and safety, including proper equipment, proper distancing, and comfort stops or bathroom breaks as needed, prevents some riders from accessing existing transportation options.
  • A shortage of trained drivers who can effectively operate equipment on each vehicle means fewer available trips for riders and may create safety hazards.
Woman in wheelchair aboard transit vehicle

Goal 3: Ease of use – Human services transportation is easy to use.

The human services transportation system is cumbersome and confusing for many riders and potential riders because there are many providers, complex eligibility requirements and scheduling challenges.

WSDOT identified the following unmet needs related to ease of use:

  • Limited potential for shared rides under current regulation makes it harder for providers to coordinate.
  • A lack of standardized technology systems that can communicate between transportation providers creates inefficiencies for riders and providers.
  • Confusing eligibility requirements make it hard for riders to know what human services transportation programs they qualify for and how to access them.
  • Limited programs for rider assistance and education means that many riders do not know about their travel options, or how to take advantage of them.
  • Uneven internet access across the state makes it harder for riders to learn about services and use digital tools to help them find their way.
  • Limited in-language outreach to people who do not use English well prevents many eligible riders from using available transportation.