Services for the Elderly:

Longstanding Transportation Problems Need More Federal Attention

HRD-91-117: Published: Aug 29, 1991. Publicly Released: Aug 29, 1991.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on special transportation services for the elderly, focusing on: (1) principal barriers that transportation providers face in the effective use of federal funds; and (2) possible ways to maximize the use of transportation funds to increase access to services.

GAO found that: (1) service fragmentation, confusion about program requirements, and inadequate data limit the effectiveness of federal special transportation programs in serving the elderly; (2) in many communities, a number of agencies operate in isolation from one another to provide special transportation to the elderly and other populations; (3) the lack of understanding between human services and transportation providers inhibits special transportation coordination; (4) state and local officials were often reluctant to coordinate with other agencies because the initial costs of doing so were too high for their agencies; (5) 12 of the 19 special transportation studies GAO examined identified poor knowledge of program requirements as a barrier that hindered effective use of special transportation funds; (6) many agencies cannot manage their programs efficiently because they lack adequate basic program data; (7) substantial knowledge and experience in the operation of successful special transportation services exists among national experts and officials in some communities, but this information is either not readily available or its application is poorly understood in many communities; and (8) 17 of the 19 studies cited the need for information and technical assistance for state officials and local providers to reduce barriers to special transportation services.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Americans with Disabilities Act Paratransit Handbook, "Implementing the Complimentary Paratransit Service Requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990," was published in September 1991.

    Recommendation: To improve service coordination, reduce widespread confusion about program requirements, and help develop better transportation data by more effectively using mechanisms already in place, the Secretaries of Health and Human Services and Transportation should expand dissemination of information on service coordination, program requirements and data design and collection to state and local social service and transportation agencies through the Joint Department of Transportation (DOT)-Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Coordinating Council, regional DOT and HHS offices, and initiatives, such as the Rural Transit Assistance Program and its HHS counterpart.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: HHS has funded the Community Transportation Assistance Program (CTAP) to disseminate information to services providers, including hotline, conferences, and workshops. CTAP conducted 10 regional workshops and 5 national training conferences on accessibility, coordination, and resource availability. CTAP has also presented to 15 national human service organization meetings.

    Recommendation: To improve service coordination, reduce widespread confusion about program requirements, and help develop better transportation data by more effectively using mechanisms already in place, the Secretaries of Health and Human Services and Transportation should expand dissemination of information on service coordination, program requirements and data design and collection to state and local social service and transportation agencies through the Joint Department of Transportation (DOT)-Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Coordinating Council, regional DOT and HHS offices, and initiatives, such as the Rural Transit Assistance Program and its HHS counterpart.

    Agency Affected: Department of Health and Human Services

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: HHS has funded CTAP to offer technical assistance to service providers, including hotline, conferences, and workshops. CTAP conducted 10 regional workshops and 5 national training conferences on accessibility, coordination, and resource availability. CTAP has also presented to 15 national human service organization meetings. The CTAP mailing list includes agencies on aging and Head Start sites.

    Recommendation: To improve service coordination, reduce widespread confusion about program requirements, and help develop better transportation data by more effectively using mechanisms already in place, the Secretaries of Health and Human Services and Transportation should provide more technical assistance in conference workshops and other in-person means to state and local agencies to help them apply this information to their own special transportation programs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Health and Human Services

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FTA has sponsored and conducted conferences and workshops throughout the country to explain ADA requirements. Meetings were held in 1991 and 1992. FTA will continue to conduct these activities as part of an on-going effort.

    Recommendation: To improve service coordination, reduce widespread confusion about program requirements, and help develop better transportation data by more effectively using mechanisms already in place, the Secretaries of Health and Human Services and Transportation should provide more technical assistance in conference workshops and other in-person means to state and local agencies to help them apply this information to their own special transportation programs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

 

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