This resource center--one of only three in the US--provides transit information and trip planning services to a six-county region covering nearly 4,000 square miles with a rural population of 300,000 people.
The newly expanded center is funded in part by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the Department of Transportation’s United We Ride/Mobility Services for All Americans (MSAA) initiative. And it’s a great example of how Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) can make a real difference in people’s lives today.
Many of us live in places where there are multiple public transportation options. But in some parts of America, the elderly, disabled, and economically disadvantaged must deal with transportation services that are fragmented and uncoordinated. Customers have to contact multiple case workers representing different programs to obtain travel services. They have to make requests too far in advance to be practical. They have to endure schedules that are inconvenient with long wait times that most of us would find intolerable.
Even worse, this creates an additional challenge for those who are unemployed. And, in this economy, we need to make access to potential employers as easy as possible for all Americans who want to work.
Transportation centers like the one in Aiken solve this problem by providing a central location where residents can make one phone call or use the Internet to make transit reservations or get real-time travel information.
Ask Althea Smith, who joined us on the podium yesterday, representing bus passengers. Althea used Aiken's Best Friend Express transportation program to secure a job and attend Aiken Technical College. Now, through the new resource center, others across six counties will have similar opportunities.
Video courtesy of WJBF News channel 6
The center succeeds by using ITS technology to:
- Plan routes,
- Schedule trips,
- Automate billing,
- Verify passenger eligibility, and
- Manage buses, vans, trains and other vehicles in a single system
The result is a coordinated, technology-enabled network of transportation providers working together to meet the mobility needs of under-served Americans.
You can see how it works in a video about the Travel Management Coordination Center from Kentucky's Purchase Area Regional Transit, another of our three demonstration projects.
You have heard Secretary LaHood and me blog about how Intelligent Transportation Systems will make our cars and roads safer or less congested in the future. But as this video shows, this center is a great example of how ITS technology can make a real difference in the lives of the people who depend on transportation and transit services to meet their most basic needs.
It's also one more way Recovery Act transportation projects are getting Americans back to work and enhancing the quality of life in our communities.
Today in Aiken, the most disadvantaged travelers will find it easier to see their doctors, get to classes, shop for groceries, and seek employment thanks to the Recovery Act and ITS.