Scanning the ideas already submitted ... it seems that transportation is paramount ... more so accessible transportation for Veterans, Family members of Veterans as well as Military personnel and their families.
I am sure there are a lot of innovative transportation ideas, whereby transit agencies took the challenges and sought out opportunities ... below are some thoughts that may help jumpstart the opportunity process.
1. Public Transit Agencies should consider if space is available, having an onsite Veteran and / or Military Liaison office. What better place than to have your local VA contacts at the transportation facility -- an easier way for Vets and family members to access help.
2. The Veteran Administration should not re-invent transportation. The VA should purchase transportation services from the public transit professionals who are guided by strict federal guidelines on how to operate transportation. Then the public transit agency, if needed, can sub contract routes out to private / non - profit transportation providers as the case may warrant.
3. Since the VA is intending to have Mobility Managers that will assist Veterans in finding the appropriate accessible transportation option, FTA should factor a 100% funding cost share for Veterans. It could be factored as local match for the transit agency or a cost reimbursement based on the number of rides request provided by the VA Mobility Manager and if it was fixed route, paratransit, or Rural - Demand Response.
4. The Veteran Administration should identify how public transit agencies can become approved venders so that they can contact the VA Regional Hospitals and Clinics on what services they offer.
5. The Volunteer VA bus rides should be housed within the public transit agencies ... and FTA give some type of credit for the transit agencies willing to help operate services. Moreover, the small vans / buses of public transit agencies, once they reach useful life, should be allowed to be given to the VA volunteer driver program and FTA giving a credit to the transit agencies that participate in such a program.
6. Transit Agencies should consult their local legislators to get approval to levy a user fee on new or re-issued vehicle tags -- with the revenue being used specifically to fund Veterans using public transportation within their state or region.
7. The public transit agencies should consider having a Veteran from a recognized veteran organization serve as a Board member or as a non-voting Board member in order to get the views of Veterans.
8. Veteran Buddies (being used already by some transit agencies) can be volunteers willing to be "travel trainers to Vets not accustom to using public transit. The Veteran Buddies can be trained by the transit agencies on how to perform such duties ... compensation can be a transit uniform; special recognition, etc.
9. Transit agencies need to become proficient in using social media and establishing the right protocols necessary so that a more concerted effort can be made to Veterans and their families using the social media network.
10. Transit Agencies can consider creating a Veteran Liaison within the agency that can begin the outreach effort to Veterans.
11. Public Transit Agencies can begin to use their buses, facilities, etc., to support special Veteran activities within their respective communities.
12. Public Transit Agencies should reevaluate their respective routes and operating hours to ensure Veterans can attend respective Veteran organizational meetings as well as medical facilities.
13. Public Transit Agencies should consider a program such as one that "adopts" a Veteran bus pass and or transportation ride. Give the local community the opportunity to purchase bus passes that can then be donated to local Veteran Organizations that they can distribute to Veterans who have a need to use public transit fixed routes, ADA paratransit services and Rural Demand response services.
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