Getting from Point A to Point B Will Soon Be Easier, Especially for People with Disabilities and Health Challenges

As a way of helping people find a ride when they need it most, the Bold Goals Coalition has brought together a group of partners to develop a Transportation Resource Center, which will give people throughout Central Alabama access to a tool that will connect them to all of the transportation options in the region.

The idea is to consolidate and categorize information for the various transportation services and programs in the area, put that information into a single database and then link people to the options that are most appropriate for them through a software application. This new resource center will be launched with funding from a recent grant from the Federal Transit Administration.

Project partners include transportation providers, such as the Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority, Kid One Transport and ClasTran, as well as health and human service organizations that serve clients facing mobility challenges. These organizations include AARP, Alabama Kidney Foundation, American Cancer Society, Collat Jewish Family Services, Disability Rights and Resources, Jefferson County Department of Health, Lakeshore Foundation, Travelers Aid Society of Greater Birmingham, United Ability and United Way of Central Alabama (UWCA).

“Transportation is consistently listed among the most pressing issues affecting the health and social mobility of people across Central Alabama,” said UWCA President & CEO Drew Langloh. “Developing a resource to help people determine which transportation services they qualify for, and connecting them to those programs, will enhance their access to the vital health, education, employment and financial resources they need to be successful.”

A recent report highlighted the fact that 24% of patients at health clinics throughout the Birmingham area missed a healthcare appointment because of lack of transportation. Many services are currently in place to get people where they need to go, but a lack of information about what is available – and confusion about what they qualify for – prevent people from taking advantage of those services.

In addition to public transit services across Central Alabama, there are specialized transportation programs designed to take people of all ages, abilities and income levels to healthcare appointments, dialysis and cancer treatments, senior centers and employment opportunities as well as on basic errands. Transportation network companies, such as Uber and Lyft, are also developing services to meet travel demands to particular locations, such as medical appointments or job interviews. All of these will be included in the database, so people will be able to connect with them through the resource center, too.

Underscoring the potentially life-changing aspect of having access to transportation, Heather Adams of the American Cancer Society said, “In a national study conducted by the American Cancer Society and hospital social workers, transportation is consistently named alongside financial assistance as first or second in importance of non-medical needs. Without transportation assistance, 40% of patients would not complete treatment.”

Project planning, data collection and software development are expected to begin soon, with an anticipated launch date for the Transportation Resource Center in the summer of 2020.

The Bold Goals Coalition of Central Alabama is 200 organizations solving big community problems by aligning partners, resources and agendas.