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RTA working with partners to improve transportation access for all

March 22, 2021

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The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) is committed to increasing mobility options for all residents of the Chicago region, no matter their age, ability, or income. That goal is shared by many partners across the region and was the topic of a recent webinar, “Improving transportation access and equity in the Chicago region.”



The conversation, moderated by Judy Shanley, Partner Director at the National Center for Mobility Management, focused on gaps in the current system, funding and plans to address those gaps, and examples of programs already in place to support all riders.

The webinar came as the RTA is completing an update to its Human Services Transportation Plan, which outlines strategies and recommendations to improve mobility for older adults, individuals with disabilities, and low income residents in the Chicago region. Heather Mullins, RTA Division Manager of Local Planning and Program Management, described the HSTP’s role in how the RTA administers federal funding from the Section 5310 Enhanced Mobility of Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities Program.

The HSTP Update, which will be presented at the RTA Board meeting on March 18, 2021, includes an inventory of transportation resources, an assessment of unmet transportation needs, gaps, and barriers to mobility, as well as goals and strategies for improving the region’s mobility network for these targeted population groups. Following the RTA Board meeting, a Call for Projects for approximately $9.5 million in Section 5310 funding will open on March 22.

Ryan Peterson, Transportation Planner with the McHenry County Division of Transportation, described how Section 5310 funds have allowed the county to establish and, as of January 2021, expand the county’s MCRide Dial-a-Ride program, which provides on demand transportation service to all of McHenry County. Read more about MCRide from McHenry County.

Audrey Wennink, Director of Transportation at Metropolitan Planning Council, discussed the organization’s Universal Mobility report, which is “based on the belief that mobility is a human right and that access to high-quality accessible transportation for people of all ages and abilities is fundamental to exercising that right.”

“We need to look at our transportation system more holistically. We need to make sure that not only do our transit systems work the best they can for everyone, but also that all the supporting elements are in place from sidewalks to signs to online information,” Wennink said.

Collaborating toward a more inclusive mobility network is at the core of several goals of the HSTP Update, which includes recommendations to establish regional and county level mobility managers, coordinate payment options and volunteer driver programs, explore consolidation of service options, and create both a regional 1 call/1 click service and an online accessibility infrastructure database. Read more in the HSTP Update.

“Working together we can continue to make progress on this important issue and achieve a future where all residents in the Chicago region have affordable, accessible, transportation options,” said RTA Executive Director Leanne Redden.

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