CHAPTER 5 FINDINGS OF THE NEEDS ASSESSMENT

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1 CHAPTER 5 FINDINGS OF THE NEEDS ASSESSMENT This chapter considers the findings of the work activities completed in previous chapters. There is a detailed discussion of the assessment of resources and needs, and identification of gaps and unmet need. 5.1 FEDERAL TRANSIT ADMINISTRATION (FTA) PROGRAM GUIDANCE FTA circulars guiding this planning process require that the coordinated plan must contain the following four (4) required elements consistent with the available resources of each individual agency/organization: 1. An assessment of available services that identifies current providers (public, private and non-profit); 2. An assessment of transportation needs for individuals with disabilities, older adults, and people with low incomes this assessment can be based on the experiences and perceptions of the planning partners or on data collection efforts and gaps in service; 3. Strategies and/or activities and/or projects to address the identified gaps between current services and needs as well as opportunities to improve efficiencies in service delivery; 4. Priorities for implementation based on resources (from multiple program sources), time, and feasibility for implementing specific strategies and/or activities identified. The Coordinated Action Plan has been developed through an inclusive stakeholder involvement process that included representatives of public transit and human services agencies throughout Los Angeles County. The methods used to ensure participation included administration of a countywide survey inventory, stakeholder agency/organization meetings and interviews and consumer meetings. In addition, a Strategic Planning Committee comprised of a number of public transit and human service agency staff and representatives was convened to review and comment upon project issues. The Action Plan inventory and accompanying technical analysis (trip demand estimation and GIS exercise) presented in Chapter 3, and the stakeholder involvement process undertaken and documented in Chapter 4, have provided considerable data and information from which to develop a profile of the needs of the target populations and the available transportation resources of public transit and human service agencies/organizations within the county. This valuable data and information will be used to inform the development of recommendations later in this report. The following section discusses the project findings relative to the required elements. FINAL 44

2 5.2 AVAILABLE SERVICES Public Transit Public transit resources in Los Angeles County are significant. This plan shows that in FY 05 public transit operated a multitude of transit services which included rail, fixed-route bus and public paratransit, representing 584 million trips. For the 2000 Census population of 9.5 million persons in residing Los Angeles County, this represents 61 trips per capita. Funding associated with this level of service was not reported in this report, but clearly represents a major investment in the economy of this county. The county s voters have twice supported local sales taxes for transit, voting in Proposition A in 1980 and a decade later Proposition C in Each is a one-half cent sales and use tax that is returned through the County Auditor to Los Angeles County s 88 cities. Each year cities in the county receive a portion of the funds generated by these taxes based upon population, while the balance goes to fund other transportation uses (e.g. rail development, streets and road repair, transit security, etc.). Documented increases of the general population as well as the target populations, indicates that there will be continued need for growth in the capacity of the overall public transit system of Los Angeles County over the next twenty years. The County s total population is expected to increase 28 percent with the target populations (seniors, persons with disabilities and income disadvantaged) increasing by as much as 55 percent between 2000 and Specialized Transportation In Los Angeles County Trips Provided Los Angeles County cities operate paratransit services in a majority of the county s eighty-eight (88) cities. Between the sixteen (16) municipal operators and the thirty-two (32) city-operated systems reporting paratransit data for the FTA National Transit Database (NTD), we can account for 4.1 million paratransit trips. Additional to this are the Access paratransit trips, ADA complementary paratransit trips of almost 2.4 million in FY 05. This represents the grand total of 6.5 million specialized public transit trips discussed in Chapter 3. Additionally, there is some level of human service transportation that is provided in Los Angeles County. The responding sample of 88 human service agencies, indicating some type of transportation function, reported a total of 866,000 passenger trips in FY 05. As these agencies represent some unknown portion of all social service organizations providing transportation, we do not know the quantity of these trips provided in Los Angeles County. This is further confounded by the differences in how human services programs report trips provided, compared to the more standardized methods in which public transit report passenger trips. However, within the responding survey sample, 36% of all trips reported were provided by human service organizations. Vehicles Reported This process also documented vehicles operated by through the inventory process. A total of 832 reported in operation with the public operators accounting for 355 of these and the human services providers with 477 vehicles. Not included are an additional 300 vehicles reported by FINAL 45

3 the commercial providers that may to some extent be double counted among vehicles reported by their contracting agencies, which could include either public transit or human services. The age of vehicles was not collected in this survey, but other surveys have shown human service vehicles to be generally older, with substantially higher mileage as compared with vehicles operated by public transit agencies. As this vehicle count represents just 61 human services agencies and 34 general public transit operators within Los Angeles County, it is expected that the actual number of vehicles providing specialized transportation is greater. Expenditures Reported Information on expenditures and their sources was notably different between the two sectors, public transit and human services. While $167 million was reported in total expenditures, these funds were expended differently between the two groups. Public transit accounted for $139 million or 83 percent or this total, and report that they are allocating 70 percent of the funds they reported into direct vehicle operations, with another 20 percent expended for capital and vehicle replacement. Five and six percent respectively are going to special bus pass/ bus token programs and to mileage reimbursement/ taxi voucher programs. Human service providers reported a much smaller proportion of the total dollars expended, almost $29 million (17 percent). Of this six, out of every ten dollars reported is expended upon subsidies for purchase of bus passes or tokens (59 percent). Another one and a half dollars or 16 percent of every ten reported, pays for mileage reimbursement and taxi voucher programs. Only two and half dollars of every ten reported are going to direct vehicle operations and less than one percent is reported for vehicle replacement expenses Funding sources are substantially different in that city-operated systems and public transit operators report continuing, stable funding from federal, state and local dedicated transit sources. Human service agencies reported private donations, general fund allocations and special grants. For many human service agencies, particularly the smaller ones, funding availability from year to year is an on-going issue. Infrastructure Differences Public transit operators have access to funding for vehicle replacement, which helps to ensure that high percentages of their vehicle fleets are lift-equipped. In addition, there is funding for facilities to maintain vehicles and staffing to regularly perform preventative vehicle maintenance. There is the increasing introduction of technological solutions to perform both administrative and operational support functions, such as data management and accounting, billing, trip scheduling, dispatching, AVL, automated fare payment and call taking and information applications. Such infrastructure does not exist within the human services systems, or uncommonly so. Of the individuals interviewed through this process, only one, a regional center employee, had the title of Transportation Coordinator. Other interviewees bore numerous other titles that ranged from office manager to grants manager to caseworker and agency director. Clearly the transportation function is decentralized within the human services environment across a number of agency roles. Such decentralization makes communication difficult internally and would in turn present challenges to coordination with outside agencies and organizations. FINAL 46

4 5.3 ASSESSMENT OF THE NEEDS OF THE TARGET POPULATIONS Understanding the unique and individualized needs reported and expressed during the survey inventory and the stakeholder involvement process, enabled the project team to begin to understand the nuances of consumer needs in Los Angeles County to ensure that projects, actions and strategies developed could conceivably address the needs over time. Table 5-1 illustrates the connection between consumer needs and potential project responses. Recognizing that there is overlap in the characteristics of target populations (e.g. seniors who are disabled and/or low income, disabled) and the fact that the sub-segments of the target populations demonstrate even greater individualized need, the following section describes the rationale and profiles the needs by consumer segment and recognized sub-segments, as well as, organizational issues relative to meeting the need Consumer-Oriented Characteristics of Need Seniors Able-Bodied Seniors Much has been written about the transportation needs of seniors and the importance of encouraging them to consider the use of public transit before they actually need it. Seniors, like the non-senior adult population, are more likely to drive or travel as passengers in private automobiles. Encouraging seniors to consider alternative transportation is challenging, as it represents a loss of personal independence and self-reliance that is difficult to contemplate. But seniors who do explore alternative mobility options demonstrate the importance of continuing to promote public transit. This is critical inasmuch as health conditions can sometimes change quickly, and the need for assistance in accessing transportation can become a higher priority. Knowledgeable seniors comment that even if there is only a gradual decrease in physical capabilities, continually reinforcing and providing information about the availability of transportation resources is important, as it ensures that the information provided to the senior may be understood in that moment when the individual is ready to listen and learn and consider. Providing information in a range of languages is also important in the multi-cultural landscape that is Los Angeles County. Interviewees expressed the need for transit information in Chinese, Vietnamese and Russian, among other languages, as often the older immigrant is less able to learn English and will continue to utilize their language of origin. Frail Elderly and Chronically Ill Consumers who are medically frail may be supported at home but are in a debilitated health status. They may be attending day care programs or adult day health care programs outside of the home but are otherwise quite limited in their mobility around the community due to multiple health issues. Trips taken revolve largely around life-sustaining purposes of medical needs, pharmacy needs or nutrition. Assistance with transportation begins with making the actual arrangements for the trip, which includes scheduling the appointment and the transportation pick-up, and getting from their house to the vehicle. These consumers generally need doorthrough door transportation support, which must include help with trip scheduling. When these FINAL 47

5 consumers do travel about the community, it is often a fearful experience due to their general health condition and limited capacity to tolerate difficulties, such as long waits or no-show vehicles. Individuals on dialysis have a range of needs that impact transportation. Reasonably ablebodied when arriving at dialysis appointments, they are weak upon leaving and may need varying degrees of assistance. On-time arrival is very important where the individual has a time slot in a given chair that will soon be used by the next patient on the roster, and can t be reserved if the rider is delayed by transportation difficulties. Also return trips may have to be rescheduled if an individual has a medically difficult session (e.g. bleeding out, etc.) and has to stay longer at the medical center. Persons with Disabilities Mobility Devices Users Since the implementation of the ADA in 1990 considerable attention has been paid to the physical environment relative to persons in wheelchairs and using mobility devices. The outstanding issue that is consistently raised by consumers and their human service agency representatives is the problem of the impediments in path of travel. Implementation of the ADA has contributed to the creation of islands of accessibility which have resulted in a greater numbers of accessible bus stops and transfer points but no path of travel by which to access them. Sometimes there is an accessible bus stop with dirt paths on either side. Sometimes there is no safe way to travel to the stop because of natural or manmade obstacles in the path of travel. Consumers in wheelchairs and other mobility devices have difficulty accessing such places where moving about in the physical environment is impeded in one way or another. One of the resulting impacts is that greater numbers of disabled persons being classified in the conditional eligibility category, as they cannot access fixed-route services because of path of travel difficulties. Local jurisdictions, commercial entities, public transit providers and human service agencies must work in a coordinated fashion to remove impediments to travel for disabled persons. Consumers with Behavioral Health Needs Consumers in this category fall into several subsets, including those with mental health problems, those who are developmentally disabled and those who may have Alzheimer s or brain injury that translates into behavioral difficulties. Those clients associated with various mental health services may be physically more ablebodied and mobile than some other groups, and they can frequently have same-day trip needs for medical appointments. Fixed-route services are potentially feasible for these otherwise able-bodied individuals. But it can also be difficult and frightening for some persons on those days when their mental illness interacts negatively with their basic functional abilities. Medications commonly taken make it difficult for these individuals to be exposed to the sunlight for extended periods. Unhealthy situations exist as a consequence for these consumers when there are long wait times for FINAL 48

6 vehicle pick-ups and drop-offs, outside in the sun without cover. Trip purposes for these individuals can reflect the full gamut of life-sustaining, as well as life-enhancing purposes. Consumers with developmental disabilities, Alzheimer s or those with severe brain injuries likely require some level of supervision or assistance, both in transit, and at the end destination. In these instances, the hand-off is very important as it ensures that an individual with impaired judgment or poor memory is not wandering or getting lost in the space between the vehicle and the front door of their destination. Some consumers may become agitated, or even combative, in transit where they become fearful, or anxious, particularly when there is a departure from their daily routine. In addition, there is increased incidence of seizures among members of these groups. In short, drivers assigned to these services should be adequately trained and prepared to handle these types of real situations. Low Income Individuals Families Consumers of public social service programs obtain assistance from agencies and organizations through various channels. They may be court referrals where there has been an allegation of child abuse or child neglect. These cases can be a probation referral, where the family is in danger of losing their children to out-of-home placement. Some families are in immigrant populations and are non-english speaking, or do so with limited proficiency. Single parents, enrolled in Medi-Cal and Healthy Start programs, as family units typically with having more than one child, are among the low-income clientele of responding human service agencies and organizations. This population is generally physically healthy, able to walk and move about the community, but may not own a car or the single working car in the family is used by the household wage earner. Use of fixed-route service is possible, but information must be readily accessible and services must not be so inconvenient as to discourage use. Consumers often have one or more children making the use of fixed route transit services more difficult. Pricing of transportation services is also an issue. This segment of the population is by definition low on financial resources, and therefore has difficulty rationalizing the expenditure of these scarce resources for transportation versus food and other basic needs. Homeless Individuals Individuals who are homeless or on the verge of homelessness have few to no resources and the cost of a single bus fare or token is usually beyond them. These consumers have very limited access to information and learning a bus route or the particular routing to get to a desired destination is a complicated task, simply because so many life issues impinge upon them. Similarly, even where the individual might qualify for ADA paratransit, they have limited to no access to a telephone in order to schedule a trip pick-up. Often there can be children accompanying a homeless individual, usually a female, all of whom need bus fares. Problems around transfers exist where an individual receives a token but a transfer cannot be provided; two tokens at full fare per leg of the trip are then used for a trip that would otherwise be served with a transfer slip. For these persons, so many activities of daily living are difficult and complicated. Caseworkers hope to make the transportation element of it easier so that access to jobs and a better quality FINAL 49

7 of life become more readily possible. However, agency personnel also note that reported transportation problems are sometimes used as a reason for not trying. Where these legitimate difficulties can be eased or smoothed, it encourages the individual to grapple with the culture of poverty and work to better their circumstances. Persons Released from Jail Who are Homeless and/or Disabled The Los Angeles County Jail System processes thousands of persons with low or no income, of which many have severe disabilities and are frequently homeless. It is very likely that the Los Angeles County Jail system interacts with more persons who are homeless with severe disabilities than any other agency in L.A. County. Staff estimate that 10 percent of the 300 or so individuals released daily need assistance traveling to the homeless shelters from the two prison facilities serving men and women, respectively. Individuals are released at all times of the day or night, often in the middle of the night when public and specialized transit services are meager or nonexistent. The L.A. County Jail system is run by the Los Angeles Sheriff s Department (LASD). The LASD provides referrals to voucher-housing, residential treatment programs, and transitional housing programs at point of discharge for persons who request or are in need of support. However, the efforts of LASD have been hampered by the lack of a system that can safely transport persons discharged from jail to a given referral location Organizationally Oriented Characteristics of Need Trip Types Needed Organizations surveyed were well aware of selective consumer needs and both public transit and human services agencies/organizations spoke to the need for medical transportation and the cross-jurisdictional, long-distance trips that typify non-emergency medical trips. Only a handful of agencies and organizations reported reimbursement for Medi-Cal transportation, or Veterans Administration, both presumably the longer, inter-city trips that are difficult to serve. Stakeholder agency/organization personnel expressed frustration about the consumers need for trip chaining. For example, upon leaving the doctor s office the need to stop at the pharmacy; once out for a medical appointment, the need to stop at the grocery store because this is the first and possibly only outing of the week. Case managers talked of providing these trips themselves because the kind of escorted assistance that is needed cannot readily be provided. However, agency/organization staff can provide this type of trip support only on a very limited basis. Escort trips are a significant need for many of the programs operating adult day health care, which includes Alzheimer s clinics. Challenges typically arise in cases where agency staff wants to allow a respite day for the family member who is the consumers care-provider. On-Time Performance The issue of reliability of transportation surfaces regularly in discussions about specialized transportation. It is a problematic issue and not easily addressed, but of paramount concern to all involved. Consumers become very anxious about their appointment times and concerned when shared-ride services transport them long distances from their destination. Agencies and FINAL 50

8 organizations expressed numerous concerns about on-time performance relating to the problems of scheduling, deployment and actual arrival times of transportation services. In the case of dialysis and mental health appointments, the implications of late transportation services can be severe. As noted, the dialysis unit cannot easily juggle consumers from one transfusion chair to another, as these appointments are typically tightly scheduled in waves of service over the course of the day. Similarly, mental health medication appointments are usually very short in duration, ten minutes or less. If an individual misses his or her appointment, it may require either rescheduling or waiting many hours until there is another open ten-minute slot. Other healthcare appointments are equally unforgiving about late arrivals and generally must be rescheduled. There are also financial impacts to late or no-show service. Attendance-based programs, such as training and education programs for re-entry workers, workshops and day programs for persons with developmental disabilities, or adult day health care activities often lose income when vehicles are late. Income is lost when consumers can attend only partial days, below the threshold of what is an approved or authorized day of service. Transit Passes and Bus Tokens As discussed in previous sections, a significant number of tickets and/or tokens are purchased by human service agencies/organizations on behalf of their consumers, with the majority of their annual budget dollars expended for this purpose. Some staffers interviewed indicated that they experience difficulties acquiring passes and tokens from public transit operators, and expressed need for improving the procurement process. Human service agencies and organizations who purchase transit fare media instead of issuing cash to clients want to ensure that their limited resources are used appropriately and limit fraud. Therefore, it would be valuable to streamline the process and enhance their ability to purchase bus tokens and passes. It is also important to promote a higher level of accountability by incorporating simple automated processes designed to track bus pass and token purchases and usage for human service agency/organization staff. Several agencies expressed interest in the ability to purchase day passes or three-hour passes on behalf of consumers to offer immediate access which allows them to travel for a specified amount of time depending upon the need. Expanded Span of Hours and Days of Service Both public transit and human services agency/organization representatives raised issues related to the need for increased evening and weekend services. In some cases this involved the difficulty of connecting with other, regional services (Metrolink) for very early work shifts. In other cases, they cited the problems of connecting between services during mid-day periods when only limited service was operating. For example, human service transportation was only available on weekdays, with no service available on weekends. Representatives from both public transit and human service agencies were aware of and concerned about the limited weekend and evening service and the travel challenges this posed for members of the target populations. Information Resources and Needs Some human service agency/organization representatives demonstrated considerable knowledge about fixed-route services, including schedules, frequency and the nearest bus stop. These individuals are clearly a valuable resource to clients and other persons within their FINAL 51

9 respective agencies and organizations. There is considerable reliance upon their knowledge of the specificity and detail of the transit system, including in one instance, the agency transit guru assisting another staffer in reading the bus book and developing the travel itinerary. Case managers speak of the need to learn the transportation system in order to be able to help their consumers. They identified problems including personnel turnover and the difficulty of keeping abreast of changes in the public transit environment. Also, staff indicated that they need massive quantities of bus books and ride guides to distribute to consumers. Agency/organization staff representatives report that many consumers do not have access to the computer or capability of using it. This reinforces the fact that the old-fashioned paper product still has considerable value within the community. Bus Facilities and Amenities and Rider Security Issues were raised about the physical amenities that dependent populations require to travel independently about the community. For single women and women with children, as well as, for frail elderly or the chronically ill, a sense of safety and security is very important. Safety elements, and information about those, are important to these populations and persons working on their behalf. Arranging Transportation Riders with multiple health conditions require trip planning assistance. For the most part, human service agency/organization staff persons have limited time (as transportation is generally a support function within these agencies/organizations), the necessary resource information (schedules, maps, etc.), or understanding to assist riders in identifying the transportation options that may best meet their needs. 5.4 GAPS IN SERVICE IDENTIFIED This subsection discusses gaps in transportation services within Los Angeles County and identifies the geographic areas where trips may be needed Institutional Communication Gaps Coordination of the transportation services operated by public transit and human services agencies/organizations is impacted by the challenges of working between two very distinct service systems. For public transit, operating service is its core business, around which significant infrastructure has been built. For the human services agencies, transportation is a support service, and is sometimes viewed as a distraction from the agencies primary purpose. Although both serve the public, differences are clearly evident at the institutional level. Human service organizations are closer to the client, have a better understanding of individual needs and requirements, and focus their day-to-day efforts on addressing and resolving issues on behalf of the individual. Public transit is more attentive to mass needs only in relation to providing service, with considerably less awareness of the individual. This was evidenced in the inventory process where human service agencies/organizations identified a breadth of needs while a much smaller proportion of responding public transit agencies/organizations could pinpoint customer needs. FINAL 52

10 It follows that since the day-to-day business objectives of these two public service industries are not the same, it is logical to find that they speak different languages, or rather interpret, process and respond to things differently. For example, public transit operators talk in terms of one-way passenger trips, and apply productivity measures of cost per hour and passengers per hour. Human services personnel speak of client days, per diem rates and often understand trips as vehicle trips. These differences can and do make communication challenging. One such difference in understanding, related to service provision is the drive to greater service efficiencies that a shared-ride system represents and the need to pick up several passengers in a given hour. This can contrast sharply with the individualized orientation of human services personnel to meet the needs of a single consumer who may have had a difficult dialysis session, and is more frail than usual, or the individual whose medication regime makes waiting in the sunlight particularly challenging. Shared ride demand response programs have difficulty meeting such individualized needs. These disparities reflect different value systems, reflecting the different core missions of each industry. These issues must gradually be addressed in the development of coordination projects that will work effectively between systems. At a minimum, it is important to establish an individual translator who can work with these two systems, understanding each sufficiently to navigate in both and to design responsive, cost-effective coordinated transportation programs Capacity The activities associated with the development of the assessment of services confirm that there are already significant public transportation services currently operating in Los Angeles, offering a range of modes and services for riders. There are also considerable human services transportation programs in place, with varied methods of service provision that include staff members driving consumers in their own car with mileage reimbursement, volunteer-based programs, directly operated services and various scenarios for contracted or taxi-based service provision. However, the assessment also shows that some of the needs of the target population are not being met. In fact, the needs described exceed the services now in place. This mandates that the existing network of transportation services must be re-configured to handle the everincreasing need, as Los Angeles County realizes continuing population growth in the future. The potential to coordinate and leverage transportation resources is a logical next step Meeting Individualized Needs One of the main objectives of the Action Plan is to recommend ways that public transit and human service agencies can work together to develop plans and projects to meet the needs of seniors, disabled persons and low income individuals. Providing service to some difficult-toserve sub-segments of the target population (e.g. frail, chronically ill and disabled individuals) is the highest level of individualized service that can be offered to consumers, will require a significant commitment by public transit and human services and resources. The Action Plan has identified specific areas of individualized need for segments of the target population that must be addressed on some level to improve mobility overall. Public transit and human service agencies and organizations must find ways in which to meet needs consumers describe, and agency/organization personnel enumerate on their behalf. Actions and strategies FINAL 53

11 developed as elements of this plan have been designed to improve the ability of operators of specialized transportation to serve a higher level of individualized trip needs with greater efficiency Improving Performance of Demand Responsive Services During the stakeholder involvement process, consumers and agency/organization representatives raised a number of issues related to service quality: on-time performance, late pick-ups, and late arrivals at appointments due to long rides and shared rides, and no-show vehicles. Reliability of paratransit services is an important issue and represents a need that persists and that can translate into critical situations for frail, vulnerable and dependent populations. Comments on this issue have related to Access Services because it is the entity charged with responsibility for development of the Action Plan. This is primarily due to the high level of expectation on the part of stakeholder agencies and organizations in securing transportation for their clients, and lack of understanding about the nature of the paratransit services operated by Access Services. Therefore actions and strategies that improve the quality of services that are already in place will help to better meet identified needs. In addition, public transit efforts to communicate effectively with human service agencies/organizations should be improved. Communication Between Drivers, Dispatchers and Passengers Improving communications between everyone involved in the provision of specialized transportation services can improve the capability of agencies and organizations to address individualized needs. This initially involves improved driver training to sensitize both public fixed-route and paratransit drivers to recognize and facilitate transportation for persons with special needs. In addition, technological tools may improve the capability of the system to strengthen the connection between the rider, the vehicle and dispatch in a real-time situation. This will serve to minimize long waits, absent information about the vehicle s arrival time. Dispatchers and call takers may require additional training to assist high-needs consumers more effectively and to be sensitized to their requirements. Capacity building then, for specialized transportation, has two purposes: 1) to increase the quantity of what is available and 2) to improve the characteristics of what is available, whether in terms of measures of cost-effectiveness, getting more for the dollars expended, or in terms of the types of service, greater responsiveness to the target populations. Capacity building translates into an array of activities: training and professional development, use of technologies to achieve increased efficiency and effectiveness, and all possible methods of expanding the quantities of service available. FINAL 54

12 Inter-Community Medical Trips Much has been written about the need for medical trips which are usually lengthy and typically require individuals to travel to regionally-based medical facilities. This is a state-level policy issue that relates to Medi-Cal reimbursement to public transit for medical trips provided to the eligible Medi-Cal population. At present, California is unique among the states in not reimbursing public transit for non-emergency medical transportation. In many other areas of the country, this is a significant funding source for this type of transportation. If California Medi-Cal policies are modified to allow reimbursement to public transit operators, this would provide some assistance to the senior population frequently making long-distance, medically related trips. Currently, Medicare, the national senior health care program, does not support transportation expense. Managed care programs, including Kaiser Permanente and SCAN, among others, speak to issues of need to get consumers to their regional, specialty facilities, but there is disproportionate financial participation accomplishing this. In short, there needs to be continued policy focus and attention, at both federal and state levels, to this type of transportation, even as local initiatives are implemented to assist in meeting long-distance, medically related transportation need. Some of these trips are between counties, a particularly difficult issue to address with a plan focused on an individual county. Los Angeles County receives many persons from neighboring and distant counties who have special transportation needs and are traveling distances, often to go to this county s premier medical facilities. Some need to travel short distances, just over the county lines, while other are arriving by inter-state carriers, including Greyhound bus and air lines and are in need of specialized transportation options available at the terminals at which they arrive. Over the long-term, planning to meet these inter-county trip needs is important. FINAL 55

13 CHAPTER 6 EXISTING TRANSPORTATION ENVIRONMENT 6.1 ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE OF PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION The existing multi-level structure and configuration of public transportation in Los Angeles County is complex. Federal, state and local regulations governing transit in the region, as well as, the availability of local funding (Proposition A and C) for transportation has significantly increased the involvement of all levels of government in the business of planning, programming and allocating funding and/or operating transportation. This hierarchy of agencies and local jurisdictions providing transportation include: The Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) which is the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO); The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA or Metro) the regional transportation planning agency/operator; Access Services, Inc. the regional ADA paratransit provider and the designated Consolidated Transportation Services Agency (CTSA); Municipal public transit operators eligible to receive (federal, state and local subsidies); and City operated transit systems funded from local sales tax revenues To gain a better understanding of the transportation environment an overview of the key public transportation agencies in Los Angeles County is presented below. Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) The Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) is the designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO). SCAG is mandated by the federal government to research and draw up plans for transportation, growth management, hazardous waste management, and air quality. Additional mandates exist at the state level. SCAG has evolved as the largest of nearly 700 councils of government in the United States, functioning as the Metropolitan Planning Organization for six counties: Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside, Ventura and Imperial. The region encompasses a population exceeding 18 million persons in an area of more than 38,000 square miles. Some of the major transportation-related responsibilities of SCAG include, but are not limited to: Maintenance of a continuous, comprehensive, and coordinated planning process resulting in a Regional Transportation Plan and a Regional Transportation Improvement Program. Development of demographic projections plus the integrated land use, housing, employment, transportation programs, measures, and strategies portions of the South Coast Air Quality Management Plan; To function as the authorized regional agency for intergovernmental review of programs proposed for federal financial assistance and direct development activities. FINAL 56

14 Review of environmental impact reports for projects having regional significance for consistency with regional plans. Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA) The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (also known as Metro, MTA or LACMTA) is the state chartered regional transportation planning and public transportation operating agency for the county of Los Angeles. The agency develops and oversees transportation plans, policies, funding programs, and both short-term and long-range solutions that address the County's increasing mobility, accessibility and environmental needs. Metro is governed by a 13-member Board of Directors comprised of: The five Los Angeles County Supervisors The mayor of the City of Los Angeles Three Los Angeles mayor-appointees (two members of the public and one L.A. City Council member) Four city council members from cities in the county other than L.A. representing those 88 cities (selected by the L.A. County City Selection Committee) The Governor of California appoints one non-voting member (traditionally the Director of Caltrans District 7). Metro operates the third largest public transportation system in the United States. Metro provides transportation services within a 1,433 mile operating area, using 2,000 peak hour buses. Metro also designed, built and now operates 73.1 miles of urban rail service. In addition, the agency has 9,200 employees, making it one of the region's largest employers. Metro also programs and allocates funding for its operating agency and for sixteen (16) municipal bus operators: Antelope Valley Transit Authority Arcadia Transit Beach Cities Transit Claremont Dial-A-Ride Commerce Municipal Bus Lines Culver City Bus Lines Foothill Transit Gardena Municipal Bus Lines La Mirada Transit Los Angeles Department of Transportation Long Beach Transit Montebello Bus Lines Norwalk Transit Santa Clarita Transit Santa Monica Municipal Bus Lines Torrance Transit In addition, Metro funds a wide array of transportation projects including bikeways and pedestrian facilities, local roads and highway improvements, goods movement, commuter rail, Freeway Service Patrol and freeway call boxes within greater Los Angeles. FINAL 57

15 Responsibility for local bus service is delegated to five Sector Governance Councils, each governing bus service in a service sector comprised of the bus lines operating from operating divisions in a given geographical area. The five sectors are: Gateway Cities, San Fernando Valley, San Gabriel Valley, South Bay, and Westside/Central. Members for each governance council are selected by a combination of city councils, councils of governments, and county supervisors representing the area. Governance councils approve service changes (although the Metro Board reserves ultimate authority over service), review the budget, address complaints about bus service, and provide recommendations to MTA management regarding the employment status of each sector general manager. Specific to the FTA requirements related to preparation of a locally developed coordinated plan and consistent with Metro s countywide programming and funding responsibilities, the agency is also the designated recipient of FTA Sections 5316 JARC and 5317 New Freedom funding. As designated recipient Metro has responsibility to conduct a competitive county-wide funding application process designed to fund the development of coordinated transportation projects submitted by stakeholder agencies and organizations. Projects approved for JARC and/or New Freedom funding would be included in a Program of Projects (POP) and would be appended to updates to the coordinated plan. Access Services, Inc. Access Services, Inc. is the Consolidated Transportation Services Agency (CTSA) for Los Angeles County. In this capacity, Access Services is responsible for the administration and operation of Access Paratransit, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) mandated paratransit transportation program for Los Angeles County, and is committed to improving the mobility on public transit of persons with disabilities. Additionally, as the CTSA, Access Services is responsible for coordinating transportation programs of the various social service providers in the county. Access Services is a state mandated local governmental agency created by Los Angeles County's public transit agencies to administer and manage the delivery of regional ADA paratransit service. Access Services was established by forty-four public fixed route transit operators in Los Angeles County. It is governed by a nine member board appointed by the Los Angeles County municipal fixed route operators, the Los Angeles County local fixed route operators, the City of Los Angeles, the County of Los Angeles, the Transportation Corridor Representatives of the Los Angeles branch of the League of Cities, the Los Angeles County Commission on Disabilities, and the Coalition of Independent Living Centers. Access Services Specialized Transportation Services Access Paratransit is the service name of the ADA Complementary Paratransit service for functionally disabled individuals in Los Angeles County. Access Paratransit transportation service is available for any ADA paratransit eligible individual to any location within ¾ of a mile of any fixed bus operated by Los Angeles County public fixed route bus operators and within ¾ of a mile around Metro rail stations during the hours that the systems are operational. Complementary paratransit service is not required to complement commuter rail and commuter bus services, since the ADA does not require that these services provide complementary paratransit service. The larger countywide service area is divided into smaller service areas and extends into portions of the surrounding counties of San Bernardino, Orange and Ventura that are likewise served by Los Angeles County Fixed-route bus lines. FINAL 58

16 Access Paratransit operates seven days a week, 24 hours of the day in most areas of Los Angeles County. It is a shared ride service that operates curb-to-curb and utilizes a fleet of small buses, mini-vans and taxis. Fares are distance-based and range from $1.80 to $2.70 for each one-way trip. However fares may differ during late-night service or while traveling in the Santa Clarita and Antelope Valley regions. City-Operated Systems in Los Angeles County Due predominantly to the funding realized from two-one half cent sales taxes in place in Los Angeles County (Propositions A and C), cities have since 1980 and 1990, respectively, operated transit and paratransit services targeted to their residents. Over three-fourths of the 88 cities and County of Los Angeles operate some type of service, with the most operating paratransit. The availability of these community-based services has helped to augment the service that is provided in by Metro. Since local services in general do not operate outside the city boundaries, with exception of some medical trips and specially funded coordinated paratransit programs, the ability to travel between cities is limited to use of Metro bus services and Access paratransit for certified ADA clients. In addition, city-operated systems have varying fares and service policies that pose challenges to travel for members of the targeted populations. Therefore even though there are significant transit and paratransit services operating throughout the county, limited amount of intercity coordination has resulted in a fragmented operating environment in many cities. Consistent with the historical mission and the agency s current role as the CTSA, Access Services was chosen to prepare the public transit and human services action plan for Los Angeles County. The following subsection describes the CTSA history and establishes the link between the CTSA functions and continuing coordination activities in Los Angeles County. 6.2 CTSA ROLE IN LOS ANGELES COUNTY Los Angeles County s Consolidated Transportation Services Agency (CTSA) has been the focus of coordination since 1990 when the Los Angeles County Transportation (LACTC) established the CTSA designation to begin coordination of social services transportation CTSA History The CTSA requirement originated in 1979 with the passage of AB 120 the Social Services Transportation Improvement Act. Commonly known as AB 120, and codified under California Government Code 15975, this act required that transportation planning agencies and county transportation commissions were to: Develop an Action Plan for the coordination and improvement of social service transportation. Designate a Consolidated Transportation Services Agency (CTSA) to implement the Action plan. Identify the social service recipients to be served and the funds available for use by the coordinated or consolidated services inventory. Establish measures to coordinate with fixed route services provided by public transit. FINAL 59

17 County or regional transportation planning agencies could appoint one or more CTSAs within their service areas. AB 120 also established that a CTSA could claim up to 5 percent of the local jurisdiction s Transportation Development Act (TDA) sales tax funding under Section of the Public Utilities Code, Article 4.5 of the TDA, which established claims for community transit services, including such services for those, such as the disabled, who cannot use conventional transit services (Section 99275). In 1988, AB 120 was amended by the State legislature, SB 826, adding an additional section to establish measures for the effective coordination of specialized transportation service from one provider service area to another, in other words to promote inter-jurisdictional transportation coordination. In addition, the reporting timeframes were modified with the inventory (Section 15973) to be updated every four years and the action plan (Section 15975) to be updated every two years, both documents to be submitted to the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans). In 2002, the action plan and inventory requirements were repealed, with Caltrans no longer required to play a role in the development of the Social Services Transportation Action Plan nor required to submit reports to the California Legislature. That legislation (AB 2647) instead seated full responsibility with the local transportation planning agencies or county transportation commissions, requiring them to prepare and adopt action plans which provided for the consolidation of social service transportation programs within their respective jurisdictions. Various other functions are suggested by the coordination and consolidation of social service transportation. The benefits that are possible through and the additional functions suggested by -- coordination and, potentially, consolidation of social service transportation are enumerated in Sections and of the California Code [emphasis added]: Cost savings through combined purchasing of equipment; Increased safety and lower insurance costs through more effective driver training; More efficient use of vehicles through centralized dispatching; Increased vehicle reliability and maintenance cost savings through centralized maintenance; Cost savings, elimination of duplicative administrative processes and increased services from centralized administration; and More effective and cost efficient use of scarce resource dollars through identification and consolidation of existing sources of funding. 4 Improvement of local social service transportation through coordination and consolidation has the potential of bringing about real changes in the quality of transportation provided, increased efficiency and safety in operations, and increased cost-effectiveness The CTSA in Los Angeles County In Los Angeles County, it was initially decided not to designate a CTSA. At that time, the passage of Proposition A established increased levels of local transportation services, and therefore coordination was not needed. This changed in 1990 when LACTC made the decision 4 State of California, Government Code Sections FINAL 60

18 to adopt an Action Plan that established a CTSA that would serve as a function of the Commission. At that time the focus of the CTSA was on information and referral to promote services within the county that served the target groups identified in the AB 120 legislation, seniors and persons with disabilities. The passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prompted further change and in 1991, the CTSA s responsibilities were broadened to include the implementation of a regional ADA paratransit program. In 1994, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA) determined that the CTSA mission, including ADA implementation, would best be filled by a free-standing, stand-alone agency and Access Services, Inc. was established. Access Services has taken the lead since 1994 in conducting inventories and preparing the CTSA Action Plan with the last Action Plan prepared in The 2002 Action Plan directed the CTSA to continue its information and referral activities, and to expand its technical assistance role to support human service transportation providers Discussion of Access Services CTSA Functions and Activities Training and Technical Assistance As the CTSA for Los Angeles County Access Services defines its role as information broker and an agency that promotes training and technical assistance relative to the FTA Section 5310 grant program. A detailed discussion of ASI and Metro s roles relative to the FTA 5310 grant program is detailed in Section 6.3 below. In addition to FTA Section 5310, Access Services also offers a nine-session Transit and Paratransit Certificate Program in coordination with the University of the Pacific. The course is provided over a three-month period, on alternate Fridays. Other courses have been developed by the CTSA staff, including Vehicle Maintenance Management and Inspection and Violence in the Transit Workplace. The 2007 calendar also includes courses prepared by the National Transportation Institute of Rutgers University, such as this year s Managing the Costs of ADA and Multimodal Traveler Information Systems. In addition, CTSA staff also provides significant support and follow-up to prospective applicant agencies and organizations. The 2007 training schedule is appended to this report. Information and Referral RIDEINFO is a telephone referral system, designed to provide consumers with information about available transportation services. RIDEINFO is maintained by Access Services and consists of a listing of approximately 200 transportation providers operating within Los Angeles County. RIDEINFO was an outgrowth of the last Action Plan and transit operator service information was compiled from the Inventory conducted in 2002, modestly updated in the intervening years. FINAL 61

19 Figure 6-1 RIDEINFO -- Access Services Web Information about Transportation RIDEINFO is an operator facilitated referral service which matches an individual's transportation needs with available accessible transportation. RIDEINFO gives quick, accurate referrals to over 200 public and private accessible transportation providers in Los Angeles County. The agencies referenced include those which provide transportation to persons in certain communities, medical patients, or agency clients only; some fares are minimal, others may be costly. Access Services does not endorse, recommend, or guarantee the quality or availability of any transportation provider referred to. Each participating agency should be contacted by the requesting party. It's FREE, simply call an information specialist at , text telephone or to obtain information to all of your accessible transportation options. Referral hours are Monday - Friday 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Information on regular public buses and trains may be obtained by calling COMMUTE. Similar information is available to text phone users by calling When individuals call the listed telephone number, the CTSA specialist uses the RIDEINFO data supported by other information readily available on the Internet, once the consumer s transportation need and the geographic area of inquiry are clear. Staff estimates that approximately 1200 calls are taken every month. The RIDEINFO dataset consists of approximately 20 fields of information that include most of the 2002 inventory information. These include transportation type, service area description, fares, hours of service, days of operation and the eligibility requirements and application process for new riders. Additionally, CTSA staff maintains a contacts data set. This is a listing of individuals and organizations for whom the agency wishes to maintain contact information. Individuals or organizations may be members of the various Access Services advisory committees. Those listed may be receiving the newsletter or notice of various training or other special events. The Contacts database has approximately 1450 organizations and 1900 contacts. This database is informally maintained by CTSA staff. 6.3 Existing 5310 Technical Assistance Roles Assumed by the CTSA and METRO Access Services as the CTSA plays important technical assistance role specific to the Section 5310 grant program. CTSA staff annually hosts a workshop along with representatives from Caltrans and MTA to provide training to potential applicants on how to complete the program application. CTSA staff additionally provides guidance and assistance to agencies in meeting their responsibilities for agency coordination which is necessary for the agency to meet application requirements. The Section 5310 grant application process involves a multi-part FINAL 62

20 application form and process that has evolved over several decades. The CTSA role of supporting agencies through the coordination process of the Section 5310 grant has assuredly helped to increase the number of successful applicants from this county. While the numbers vary annually, between 15 and 25 agencies typically submit a grant application in each cycle. As of the writing of this document, the Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is meeting with other transportation agencies in California for the purpose of redesigning the funding application to be consistent with the locally developed coordination planning process of SAFETEA-LU. Metro as the Regional Transportation Planning Agency (RTPA) is responsible for evaluating all Section 5310 grant applications from agencies and organizations in Los Angeles County and forwarding the local priorities and application scores to Caltrans. As a part of this process, Metro establishes a Local Review Committee comprised of representatives of the CTSA, Local Transit Systems Subcommittee (LTSS), and Accessibility Advisory Committee. The Local Review Committee members represent providers of services to seniors and persons with disabilities, users of transportation services, non-profit and for profit transit service providers, and Metro In addition, Metro staff has developed a web site which contains all information on the Section 5310 program and allows individuals to develop an on-line application which can be submitted directly to Metro staff. Metro staff supports individual agencies in the overall preparation of their application, participating in the annual grant workshop and providing agencies with individual technical advice that is effective in increasing the number of successful applicants from the county. As a final step in the process, all projects that have been awarded funds are then included in the Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP). FINAL 63

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