United Way Receives Funding to Develop Transportation Resource Center

People throughout Central Alabama will soon have access to a tool that will help connect them to all of the transportation resources in the region.

United Way of Central Alabama was awarded a grant from the Federal Transit Administration to develop a Transportation Resource Center that will consolidate information for the various transportation services and programs in the area and link people to the mobility options that are most appropriate for them through a software application.

“Transportation is consistently listed among the most pressing issues affecting the health and social mobility of people across Central Alabama,” said Drew Langloh, president and CEO of United Way of Central Alabama. “Developing a resource to help people determine which transportation services they qualify for and connecting them to those programs will enhance their access to the vital health, education, employment and financial resources they need to be successful.”

The Transportation Resource Center will simplify the process of “finding a ride” by providing a single point of entry for people to determine the most appropriate transportation service for their need. The Center will consolidate and categorize the current transportation options into a single database to help people get to the places they need to go.

A recent report highlighted the fact that 24% of patients at health clinics throughout the Birmingham area missed a health care appointment because of lack of transportation. Many services are currently in place to get people to the places they need to go, but a lack of information about what is available, and confusion about what they qualify for, prevent people from taking advantage of those services.

In addition to public transit services across Central Alabama, specialized local transportation programs exist to take people of all ages, abilities and income levels to health care appointments, dialysis and cancer treatments, senior centers, employment opportunities and just to run basic errands. Transportation network companies, such as Uber and Lyft, are also developing services to meet travel demands to particular locations, such as medical appointments or job interviews, so people will be able to connect with those services, as well.

“In a national study conducted by the American Cancer Society and hospital social workers, transportation is consistently named alongside financial assistance as first or second in importance of non-medical needs,” said Heather Adams, Health Systems Manager for Hospitals for the American Cancer Society, who is a partner in the project. “Without transportation assistance, 40% of patients would not complete treatment.”

The project is an effort of the Bold Goals Coalition, which is a regional effort of over 200 organizations solving big community problems by aligning partners, resources, and agendas.

Project partners include transportation providers, such as the Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority, Kid One Transport and ClasTran, as well as health and human service organizations who serve clients facing mobility challenges, including Disability Rights and Resources, Lakeshore Foundation, Travelers Aid Society of Greater Birmingham, United Ability, American Cancer Society Alabama Kidney Foundation, Collat Jewish Family Services, AARP, and the Jefferson County Department of Health.

Project planning, data collection and software development is expected to begin soon, with an anticipated launch date for the Transportation Resource Center in the summer of 2020.