Coordination Planning & Mobility Management

RLS & Associates, Inc. has earned a reputation as one of the nation’s leading firms in the area of coordinated transportation. In the early 1990s, RLS developed Ohio’s “Handbook for Coordinating Transportation Services”—the first how-to manual for step-by-step coordination at the local level—as well as providing hands-on assistance to a number of systems and communities in the area of transportation coordination. RLS also developed the companion guide to the Handbook, “A Guide for Implementing Coordinated Transportation Services.”  This document was developed to take coordination to the next step, implementation, and provide tools and resources to assist in this implementation.

After the launching of the United We Ride Initiative in 2004 and subsequent coordination requirements instituted with the passage of SAFETEA-LU, MAP-21, and now the FAST Act, RLS stepped forward as a leader in both providing technical assistance to states in meeting the Federal requirements as well as in the development of state, regional, and local coordination plans across the country. RLS successfully implemented not only the basic concepts that were contained in the original United We Ride concept, but proven best practices that have been identified by FTA, state DOTs, and RLS’ own coordination experience.

RLS has built on its extensive experience and lessons learned to offer a unique and innovative perspective to each project and client, rather than a “one size fits all” approach. This perspective is built on a pragmatic process of evaluating each new project based both on a combination of RLS’ national experience in the transit industry and the reality that each community and transit system is unique. RLS’ experienced staff also offers diverse backgrounds and records of success with projects on a variety of scales so that the right combination of resources and expertise can be committed to ensure success.

Community Transportation Initiatives

Local communities and transit systems help connect all members of the community with employment, health, educational, and other important opportunities and services. The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) supports these endeavors through a number of initiatives. One such initiative is the USDOT Livability Initiative whose goal is to, “enhance the economic and social well-being of Americans by creating and maintaining a safe, reliable, integrated and accessible transportation network that enhances choices for transportation users, provides easy access to employment opportunities and other destinations, and promotes positive effects on the surrounding community.” Through all its coordination and short- and long-term planning assistance, RLS can provide recommendations and alternatives for enhancing and improving local transit services to meet these goals.

Coordination Planning and Implementation–Local, Regional, and State

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) requires that all projects requiring funding through the FTA Enhanced Mobility of Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities (Section 5310) be documented in a formal, local planning process. These locally developed plans, typically described as Coordinated Public Transportation-Human Services (PTHS) Plans, are required to identify the transportation needs of individuals with disabilities, older adults, and people with low incomes; provide strategies for meeting these needs; and prioritize transportation services for funding and implementation. Aside from fulfilling Federal compliance requirements, these plans are an important step in the process of bringing communities together to discuss and identify the range of unmet needs and gaps in services with the existing transportation resources. Regardless of how services are provided, transportation providers and human service agencies are all searching for ways to economize, connect, increase productivity and provide user-friendly access to critical services and community amenities. In an era of increasing need and demand for shared-ride transportation and stable or declining revenue, organizational partnerships must be explored and cost-saving measures must be made to best serve the state’s changing transportation demands. Interactive coordinated transportation planning that involves state and local stakeholders provides the best opportunity to accomplish this goal.

Each plan requires the conduct of comprehensive public outreach, needs and gap analysis, transportation resource inventory, goals and objectives, and prioritized project listing. RLS has conducted local, regional, and statewide PTHS plans all over the country for State DOTs, Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), planning and development agencies, and local transit systems.

Mobility Management

Many transit agencies are embracing the concept of ‘mobility management’, a strategic approach to designing and delivering transportation services that starts and ends with the customer. It begins with a shared vision in which the entire transportation network—public transit, private operators, cyclers and walkers, volunteer drivers, and others—works together with customers, planners, and stakeholders to deliver the transportation options that best meet the community’s needs.

When implemented, mobility management can move transit agencies away from their roles as fixed-route service operators and toward collaboration with other transportation providers. The idea behind this approach is to create a full range of well-matched mobility services within a community. With the mobility management approach, transit resources are efficiently coordinated, enabling customers to make better decisions, and improve customer service.

Non-Emergency Medical Transportation (NEMT)

NEMT is funded through Medicaid and is a critical service available for individuals who would otherwise not be able to attend important medical appointments. Although not a FTA-funded program, NEMT plays an important role in the effort to integrate a community’s available services. Standard fixed-route public transportation may not always be a viable option for individuals who are physically limited or dealing with other health circumstances. To meet the needs of these individuals, public transit systems can coordinate with the various NEMT options available, such as paratransit and demand response or dial-a-ride services. With these services, individuals can schedule pickups from home or another predetermined location based on their scheduled appointments; typically there is only a small fee per ride. These services can reliably provide special accommodations that may not always be available with standard fixed-route public transportation or companies like Uber and Lyft.

Coordination between public transit systems and NEMT services ensures community members, whatever their health circumstance, can attend their appointments on a regular basis and in a cost-effective and convenient way. RLS has been a leader in this area, working with State DOTs and local transit systems and communities to plan, design, and evaluate the best mix of transportation service to meet NEMT needs in the local community, region, and state.

Transit Integration

When the word integration is used in conversations about transit, it traditionally means making it easy to make trips and, therefore, ensure access across a local or regional area, for example a city, multiple counties, etc. It can also involve multiple transit agencies that are geographically connected, independent of the type of service, fares, schedules, ticket systems, etc. that may be in place. The goal is to provide a transportation network that is ‘seamless’. Service coordi­nation and integration are occurring all over the country, and RLS has already worked with several communities to help make that happen, but there will always be additional opportunities to explore. With coordination and integration comes decisions about fares, vehicle types, special customer needs, and more. A major priority of integration is to optimize convenience for customers. Transit integration can help avoid duplication through coordination of not only service delivery, but also vehicle purchases. Transit integration is a key component of RLS’ service evaluations, short- and long-range planning efforts, and coordinated plans.

Transportation Network Company (TNC)

Transportation network companies (TNCs), like Uber and Lyft, have emerged across the country over the past few years. These enterprises differ from traditional, for-hire transportation companies, such as taxicab and limousine services since they connect passengers with drivers through a mobile application. Concerns about the use of these enterprises range from ensuring public safety while fostering innovative advances in transportation to adequate liability insurance requirements, ensuring criminal, record and license checks, sufficient driver training and testing, and vehicle inspection standards. Still, TNCs are used by transit systems to provide “first and last mile” service. However, many communities are pushing transit systems to try and use TNCs to supplement paratransit services; the challenge this presents for transit systems is how to affordably gain vehicles and trained drivers. RLS works with local communities and transit systems to evaluate all meaningful modes of transportation as part of its plan, design, and evaluation of transit service.

Staff Expertise

Robbie L. Sarles

Robbie L. Sarles President Ms. Robbie Sarles, President, and founder of RLS & Associates, Inc., has worked over 37 years in the transit industry in progressively responsible positions, in both public and private sectors. Since founding RLS in 1987 in Dayton, Ohio, she...

Ray Boylston

Mr. Ray Boylston Senior Associate Mr. Ray Boylston works out of the RLS Raleigh, North Carolina office. He has over 30 years of experience in transit planning, management, operations, and finance at the state, county, and municipal levels, in both the public and...

Laura Brown

Laura Brown Senior Associate Ms. Laura Brown works in Sumter, South Carolina and is the Senior Associate for RLS’ coordination and planning projects. Ms. Brown has a diverse background of transit planning and financial management and analysis experience as well as a...

Richard (Rich) Garrity

Richard (Rich) Garrity Senior Associate Mr. Rich Garrity is located in the RLS Wilmington, North Carolina office. He has over 40 years of experience in transit and paratransit planning, operations and management evaluation, coordinated transportation services, policy...

Charles Glover

Charles Glover Senior Associate Mr. Charles Glover works out of the RLS Raleigh, North Carolina office and has over 39 years of public transportation experience, with extensive expertise in the planning and development of coordinated transportation services and...

Julie Schafer

Julie Schafer Senior Associate Ms. Julie Schafer is located in the Dayton Headquarters. A former Section 5311 transit manager of a seven-county public transit system in rural Indiana, she has over 18 years of experience, 15 years of that in transit system operations...

Richard (Rich) Schultze

Richard (Rich) Schultze Senior Associate Mr. Rich Schultze is located in the Dayton Headquarters. He has over 42 years of experience in a range of passenger transportation modes and settings, including route and service planning for the Washington Metropolitan Area...

Kelly Shawn

Kelly Shawn Senior Associate Mr. Kelly Shawn is located in the RLS Alexandria, Virginia office. With over 31 years in the transit industry, Mr. Shawn is an experienced trainer, facilitator, and project manager with extensive expertise in small urban, rural, and tribal...

Christy Campoll

Christy Campoll Associate Ms. Christy Campoll is located in the RLS Indianapolis, Indiana office. As a former transit manager and transportation vice president, Ms. Campoll managed a successful rural, demand response transit system in central Indiana. This $1.5...

Zachary (Zach) Kincade

Zachary (Zach) KincadeOffice Manager/GIS SpecialistMr. Zach Kincade is the Dayton Headquarters Office Manager, as well as over eleven years of experience as a project manager and Lead Analyst for RLS data collection and survey analysis projects. He also provides...

Sara Trafton

Sara Trafton Associate Ms. Sara Trafton is located in the Dayton Headquarters. She is an experienced transit and project manager with over 15 years of public transportation experience, and a background in strategic planning, executive management, grant development and...

Rosamary Amiet

Rosamary Amiet Quality Assurance Editor Ms. Rosamary Amiet is a remote employee located near Columbus, Ohio who provides editing and quality assurance for RLS’ products and proposals. She retired in 2004 from the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) with over 31...

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