WSDOT and our partners identified unmet needs, including gaps and barriers that create mobility challenges for people with special transportation needs.
We identified five focus areas for meeting unmet needs:
- Many people do not have access to human services transportation or cannot use human services transportation options when they need them. It could be that they live in areas with fewer transportation options, or the service hours do not fit with their schedule, or they simply live far away from the places they need to go to access services, and that means using public transportation is complicated, expensive and time consuming.
- People with special transportation needs do not always feel safe using their transportation options. Sometimes riders cannot safely reach transportation options–maybe there are no sidewalks or ramps they can use to get to the bus stop. Once they are at the stop, there may not be adequate lighting, shelter, or even wayfinding for the visually impaired. Sometimes the ADA equipment on the bus is missing or damaged, or perhaps the driver is not familiar with how to use it.
- The people who rely on human services transportation the most often cannot access it easily. People with serious and chronic medical conditions who rely on access to nonemergency care may not meet the eligibility requirements for benefits provided by Medicare or Medicaid, for example. This also includes people for whom the cost of public transportation is a barrier to getting to jobs, schools or healthcare services.
- The multi-layered system for providing human services transportation leads to inefficiencies for providers and for users. Lack of coordination between transit providers, human services providers and government agencies can lead to gaps in coverage or redundant services, and service area limits, eligibility requirements that are structured around specific city or county borders, and services that do not cross county lines cause their own problems and inefficiencies for users.
- Using human services transportation services can be complicated. People with special transportation needs first have to know what services exist, how to use each service, and if they are eligible. They might need, but not know how to access, mobility training or other education to get the most out of the existing services. And finally, if they speak a language other than English, everything in this already complicated environment becomes even more difficult to navigate.