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2022 Coordinated Human Services Transportation Plan

Coordinated Human Services Transportation Plan

Prepared by: Adirondack/Glens Falls Transportation Council

11 South St., Suite 203
Glens Falls, NY 12801

9/14/2022 FINAL

I. Introduction
II. Geography and Demographics
A. Regional Geography
B. Population Density
C. Age
D. Disability
E. Access to Vehicles
F. Income
III. Public Transportation
A. Greater Glens Falls Transit
1. Freedom and Mobility Express (FAME)
B. Medical Answering Service
C. Taxis/Ridehailing
IV. Public Outreach
V. Needs & Priorities
A. Overview
B. Priority Projects
C. Coordination Activities
VI. Next Steps/Implementation
A. Section 5310 Program
B. Other Activities

I. Introduction
The Adirondack / Glens Falls Transportation Council is the designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for Warren and Washington Counties and the Town of Moreau in Saratoga County. The missions of the MPO are to facilitate cooperative transportation planning and decision-making between municipalities and state and federal agencies, and to establish a process for the allocation of federal highway and transit funds. As part of the ongoing planning process, A/GFTC has worked closely with Greater Glens Falls Transit (GGFT), New York State Department of Transportation, local municipalities, human service agencies, and transportation providers to develop this regional Coordinated Human Services Transportation Plan (CHSTP).
The purpose of the CHSTP is to provide a framework for the coordination of transportation services within the planning area with an emphasis on services for aging adults and persons with disabilities. This Plan will provide a structure for the development of projects that address the transportation needs of the targeted populations by improving coordination between transportation stakeholders (agencies, clients, operators, and regulatory entities).
In addition, the CHSTP sets forth priorities for key Federal Transit Administration (FTA) programs. Federal transportation law contains provisions for the Section 5310 program, also known as Enhanced Mobility of Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities. The 5310 program provides formula funding to increase the mobility of seniors and persons with disabilities. Projects selected for funding must be included in a locally developed, coordinated public transit-human services transportation plan.
It should also be recognized that there are dozens of other federal and state programs that provide funding for transportation in this community, including Medicaid. The majority of the agencies located in the A/GFTC area receive transportation funding from non-FTA sources; collectively they far exceed the potential resources of the FTA programs.
II. Geography and Demographics
A. Regional Geography
The planning and programming area for A/GFTC includes Warren County, Washington County, and the Town of Moreau in Saratoga County. The major population center is the Glens Falls Urbanized Area, located at the southeastern corner of Warren County and the central western edge of Washington County. This poses some inherent difficulties in access to services as the majority of the region’s land area and a significant proportion of the population are rural. There are also important community services distributed throughout the rural area, such as groceries, schools, medical facilities, and large employers. However, with a few exceptions, many of the transportation providers are clustered in and around the urban area. This can complicate the provision of transportation services within and between rural areas. Many of those rural residents are located in outlying hamlets and villages. As shown in Map 1, many rural locations are closer to services provided outside of the A/GFTC area: Albany, Saratoga Springs, and Bennington (VT) are potentially more convenient to southern Washington County, while Ticonderoga is a frequent destination for those living in northern Warren or northern Washington Counties. Rutland, VT also attracts service clients from northeastern Washington County.
B. Population Density
Population density is an important consideration for transportation agencies. According to the Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) report Transit Capacity and Quality of Service Manual, a density of at least 3 households per acre is required to effectively support traditional fixed-route transit. This is roughly equivalent to quarter-acre zoning. For transportation services other than fixed-route transit, increased density is usually beneficial to service provision, as the decreased distance between clients and potential destinations leads to increased efficiency.
As seen in Map 2, the density of housing units (both year-round and seasonal) is greatest in and around the Glens Falls urbanized area, with pockets of higher density found in the villages and hamlets. Most of Warren County, outside of the southeast corner, falls into the lowest category of density. The hamlet of Warrensburg contains a small cluster of moderate density census blocks, as do the hamlets of Chestertown and North Creek. In Washington County, there are larger villages and hamlets such as Whitehall, Granville, Salem, Greenwich, and Cambridge, however none of these have the density needed to support standalone transit service. In addition, these population centers are separated by long distances, increasing the potential cost of a scheduled service to link them together.

C. Age
A key focus of this plan is to increase transportation options for seniors. As such, it is important to identify location clusters with high percentages of senior population. Map 3 illustrates the percentage of population over the age of seventy, by census block group.
As can be seen on the map, there are key concentrations of seniors in several distinct locations. In the rural area, there are high proportions of seniors in Chester, Horicon, Hague, Lake Luzerne, Lake George, and Bolton in Warren County, and in Whitehall, Fort Ann, Fort Edward, Jackson, Granville, Cambridge, White Creek, and Argyle in Washington County. Within the urban area there are also clusters of high senior population. Although seniors in the urban areas are closer to transit services, their ability to travel even short distances to the bus lines may be limited. Physical limitations may hinder them from driving or their accessibility to available transportation options. In addition, the uniqueness of senior needs is a determining factor in available transportation. Service providers have noted that seniors are more likely to use transportation resources that allow them to feel comfortable, safe, and independent.
D. Disability
Statistics regarding the population of persons with disabilities can be an indicator of need for transportation services. According to the 2020 American Community Survey, the estimate of overall regional population with one or more physical disabilities within the Glens Falls Metropolitan Statistical Area was 15.4% which is slightly higher than 11.6% in New York state as a whole.
The transportation needs of disabled residents is dependent on a wide variety of factors. For instance, people who are working age and can live independently may place a higher priority on access to employment versus medical trips. In addition, if independent living is a possibility, this opens the option to live near public transportation; however, there is no guarantee the job itself will be located along a transit route. If a certain level of assistance is needed, there may be a conflict between living with family members or in a facility that provides the support they need and being able to work outside of the home.
Transportation for people with disabilities must also account for accessibility for wheelchairs or other mobility devices as well as visual and other impairments. Not all of the vehicles being used in the region are wheelchair accessible, although agencies make an effort to coordinate to use the resources that do exist when the need arises.

E. Access to Vehicles
Access to automobiles is another important determinant of regional mobility, especially in rural areas. Map 4 indicates the percentage of households without access to vehicles. In the rural areas, Granville, Cambridge, and Warrensburg contain block groups with over 100 households without access to vehicles.
In the urban area, there are much higher percentages of zero-vehicle households, especially in the downtown area of Glens Falls and Hudson Falls. Although these areas are served by GGFT, and are by and large walkable, these features may be less useful for people with mobility issues.
It is important to note that the presence of a vehicle within a household does not insure that transportation needs are met. Many members of the 5310 population cannot or do not drive; even if they are capable and willing drivers, they may not have consistent access to shared vehicles.
F. Income
It can be useful to assess the proportion of population living below the poverty level to determine if there are locations with a higher percentage of low- or moderate-income residents. These residents may have sporadic access to transportation and less ability to overcome obstacles posed by transportation emergencies.
Income level data was derived from data obtained through the HUD Division of Community Planning and Development, based on estimates from the 2011-2015 American Community Survey. These data provide estimated counts of persons based on their family income as either:
* Low: at or below 50% of the Area Median Income (AMI),
* Moderate: 50- 80% of AMI
Although the vintage of this data is not as recent, the AMI data is maintained by HUD on an annual basis. This dataset also takes into account income data on a level of analysis which is not available to the public (i.e., the AMI); therefore, for the purposes of determining Low/Moderate Income Areas, this data has been included in the analysis for the A/GFTC Planning and Programming Area.
In addition, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) Potential Environmental Justice Areas were used as a secondary source of income data. Within the A/GFTC Planning and Programming area, the relevant income thresholds for a potential EJ Area are those Block Groups with at least 22.82% of the population having household incomes below the federal poverty level.
Twenty-three (23) Block Groups meet the HUD methodology, while five (5) meet the NYSDEC criteria. A map of these areas can be seen in Map 5. A list of the location of these block groups is included in Table 1.

III. Public Transportation
A. Greater Glens Falls Transit
GGFT began operation in 1984 through a collaborative agreement among eleven contiguous municipalities centered around the Glens Falls urban area from Lake George/Bolton Landing in the north, south to the Towns of Moreau and Fort Edward (see Map 6). It operates a fleet of eighteen transit vehicles and historically carried over 350,000 riders a year. With some exceptions, year-round service operates from 6:30am through 10:00pm Monday through Friday with a more limited schedule on Saturdays, with a service span of Lake George to Moreau/Fort Edward. GGFT also operates a summer season trolley bus service between Bolton Landing/Lake George and Glens Falls from late June through Labor Day (and on weekends in spring and fall).
GGFT has periodically studied and considered various scheduled transit services to the rural area but has consistently found insufficient demand to justify the local financial support required to make them feasible. The only recent exception to this was a pilot expansion of the summer trolley route which included occasional service to Warrensburg. This service has since been discontinued.
Like all small transit operators in New York, GGFT faced a significant, ongoing drop in ridership due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although mandated restrictions on bus capacity have been lifted, ridership has not yet returned to historic levels. Another challenge exacerbated by the pandemic has been finding qualified drivers, especially for the summer trolley service. Despite these challenges, GGFT has nonetheless expanded access to transit. In particular, GGFT recently debuted a new mobile electronic fare payment platform to allow riders to purchase bus fare through a mobile app. This system also allows fares to be transferred electronically, which will allow bus tokens to be sent to anyone with a smartphone.
In addition, GGFT partnered with CDPHP in 2021 to expand the ‘Cycle!’ bikeshare system to the Glens Falls/Lake George area. The provision of low-cost bikeshare in the vicinity of two of the area’s busiest transit hubs – Ridge Street in Glens Falls and Beach Road in Lake George – will benefit transit riders looking to make the ‘first mile/last mile’ connection.
1. Freedom and Mobility Express (FAME)
GGFT offers complementary paratransit service to individuals unable to access the fixed-route services. This service is branded as Freedom and Mobility Express (FAME). FAME is available for travel within ¾ mile of GGFT’s fixed-route services and all passenger pick-ups and drop-offs must be within this area. The service is available during the fixed-route operating hours and based on the route schedule. Fares for FAME trips are double the fare on the fixed-route system.

B. Medical Answering Service
The 2010/11 New York State budget gave authority to the State to assume the management of Medicaid transportation in any county and to select a contractor for this purpose. The intent was to improve the quality of transportation services, reduce the local administrative burden for transportation services and local management contracts, and achieve projected budgeted Medicaid savings. The Medicaid transportation services in Warren, Washington, and Saratoga County are now being handled by a centralized agency, Medical Answering Services (MAS), a Syracuse-based non-emergency medical transportation management company. The impact of MAS on the established transportation systems around the state has been very significant. Generally, the impact of this change has been to shift trips away from public transit to private taxi and ambulette services.
C. Taxis/Ridehailing
Taxis are used for a wide variety of purposes. For those lacking an automobile and access to any government-funded transportation program, a taxi may be the only source of mobility available. The MAS website lists 46 taxi companies serving Warren County and 50 taxi companies serving Washington County. Accounting for overlap, there are 54 distinct taxi companies listed for the two counties. It should be noted that not all of the taxi companies listed provide service to the general public; many are Medicaid-funded services that provide transportation to medical appointments only. Taxis are not typically seen as a long-term and sustainable transportation option for any given individual because of the cost and inconvenience of having to schedule every ride.
On June 29, 2017, it became legal to operate ridehailing services in upstate New York. These services, such as Uber or Lyft, rely on individual contractors driving their own vehicles, dispatched through a smartphone app. Since there is no centralized fleet, this type of service could theoretically allow for increased taxi-style service to rural areas. However, it remains to be seen whether the cost of rides and low population density will make ridehailing a feasible transportation option in rural areas.
IV. Public Outreach
Since the last update to the CHSTP, the transportation services provided by public and human service agencies have faced wide-scale disruptions due to a variety of factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic, fluctuations in fuel costs, labor shortages, and rising inflation. The ramifications of these effects are ongoing. It is therefore difficult to identify trends and related solutions without knowing when conditions are likely to return to “normal”, or which effects will persist into the future on a long-term basis.
Previous public outreach efforts, conducted in 2015 and 2017, identified a number of issues which have been summarized below.
* A lack of transportation options for working age residents, which can result in the “no car, no job” problem. This is primarily a rural issue, but there are also gaps in service options for evening workers in the urban area.
* Medical transportation. This is an issue in both urban and rural areas. Specific issues include travel to medical appointments outside the county of residence (especially in Washington County) and for seniors not eligible for Medicaid.
* General mobility connections between rural and urban areas. In areas without transit, finding transportation options to connect to needed services (often located in the urban area) continues to be an issue.
* Mobility for the homebound, especially seniors. This is primarily a rural issue.
* A fair amount of cooperation and coordination between agencies is already taking place on an ad hoc basis, but more is needed. There is not an overabundance of service capacity which can be taken advantage of from a logistical standpoint.
* Lack of awareness/understanding of available transportation options among clients/customers. This applies to both rural and urban areas.
For this update, an online survey was conducted to gather feedback from human service providers in the region. The survey and results can be seen in Appendix 1. A summary of the responses is included below.
This survey was advertised through posts on an online human service agency forum hosted by GGFT; each post reached a maximum of sixty-nine (69) participants. The survey was open for approximately four weeks and twenty-two (22) responses were received from a total of sixteen (16) agencies. Approximately 60% of respondents were from agencies which provide direct transportation services. The geographic distribution of the respondents included the entire A/GFTC Planning and Programming area.
In terms of rural-urban context, 50% of the respondents represented agencies with a combination of urban and rural clients, 45% represented mostly rural, and 5% represented mostly urban. Approximately 27% of the respondents indicated that their clients mostly lived within ¾ mile of the GGFT bus routes, while 64% indicated the clients lived outside of the range of bus services. The remaining 9% were unsure. Regardless of location, 86% of respondents indicated that their clients had issues accessing necessary transportation. When asked what types of transportation needs were most common (transportation to jobs/school, medical transportation, occasional trips for shopping/errands), the overwhelming number of respondents (18) indicated “all of the above”.
The transportation issues facing human service agency clients varied, but cost was the most cited factor (see Figure 1), followed by geographic distance from transportation services and the inability to drive.

Figure 1
For those clients with issues accessing transportation, needs are most commonly met through assistance from friends and family, walking or riding a bicycle, assistance from human service agencies, public transportation, or taxis/rideshare apps. A significant number of respondents (10) indicated that clients are sometimes unable to meet transportation needs at all, resulting in missed medical appointments or opportunities to work.
To help meet their clients’ transportation needs, agencies provide a variety of services. Sixteen of the respondents indicated their agency provides transportation directly; other services included financial assistance, referrals to other services, and/or coordination with other agencies on their clients’ behalf. Ninety percent (90%) of the respondents provide more than one form of transportation assistance.
For those agencies which provide direct transportation assistance, respondents indicated that lack of drivers (8) and policy limitations (6) were the factors which limited their ability to provide transportation services. In terms of the effect of COVID-19, staffing shortages further reduced the ability to hire and retain drivers. In addition, increasing costs/supply chain issues and the inability or unwillingness of clients to share rides also hampered transportation operations.
Over 80% of survey respondents indicated that their agencies coordinated with other groups to provide transportation assistance. See Figure 2 for a breakdown of the agencies cited as coordination partners.

The most cited type of coordination activity was client referral with 16 responses, followed by program planning/coordination and scheduling with 10 responses each. Shared access to vehicles was selected by only 4 respondents, and maintenance only once. However, it is important to note that the responses are indicative only of the experience of the survey taker and may not reflect actual coordination activities. For example, an agency employee that deals mostly with the public may not know the details of vehicle maintenance activities. However, the responses are useful to provide context for the more common coordination activities that are likely taking place.
Respondents were also asked for their perception of the barriers to increased coordination. Geographic distance was the most common barrier, followed by lack of capacity and lack of staff/funding to oversee coordination. See Figure 3 for the full breakdown of responses.

V. Needs & Priorities
A. Overview
When formulating the needs and priorities for this CHSTP, it is important to remember that providing transportation is more complex than simply supplying a vehicle and a driver. Human service agencies work with an extensive range of clients throughout the A/GFTC Planning and Programming Area, spanning all age brackets and demographic cohorts. Many of these clients require additional assistance, special equipment, or supervision in order to complete needed trips. Regulatory requirements also restrict or prohibit the transportation services provided to clients, which can reduce the ability of agencies to coordinate with each other. Finally, the geography of the A/GFTC area itself complicates efforts to coordinate transportation services.
For the purposes of this CHSTP, the following needs and priorities have been identified for the A/GFTC region:
* Increase availability of transportation services for medical trips, especially for seniors. Although there are a variety of existing transportation services which are geared toward medical trips, gaps still exist. This is especially true for short-notice trips, trips made to medical facilities outside of the County/region, and trips for services such as physical therapy or support groups which can increase health and quality of life.
* Increase availability of transportation services to/from and within rural areas. The stakeholder outreach indicates that demand far outstrips the existing transportation services available to seniors and the disabled living outside the urban area (and in some cases, even within the urban area.)
* Increase availability of transportation services on nights/weekends and to employment centers. It is important to remember that many people who benefit from the 5310 or other transportation service programs can and do work. Transportation access for many types of jobs, especially service-oriented and retail jobs, is limited, even in areas where transportation and transit services exist. Continuing to expand transportation choices past the traditional 9-5, Monday-Friday model will only serve to benefit the 5310 population.
* Reduce regulatory or other barriers which prevent or inhibit the ability for people to access transportation services. In many cases, it can be difficult or impossible to schedule rides, due to the origin or destination being outside of the relevant service area, the trip purpose not fitting the exact program parameters, the time of the trip, or other reasons. Although it will never be feasible to facilitate transportation services that meet all needs all the time, there may be ways to make it easier for people to access the services that already exist.
B. Priority Projects
To promote maximum flexibility in transportation services and coordination, this plan does not include specific project descriptions. Instead, a list of priority project types are listed. Thus, any proposed activity which fulfills a need stated above is considered to be in compliance with this plan. However, the following types of activities are listed as priorities for this region.
* Fleet maintenance/expansion for existing transportation providers. Maintaining and/or expanding current levels of service to vulnerable populations is of critical importance. Capital projects which allow for vehicles to be replaced or upgraded will help ensure that current levels of service continue to be provided, while funding for additional vehicles can expand the ability of human service agencies to reach vulnerable client populations.
* Establishment of new services intended to fill a recognized gap in the transportation system. This could include capital expenses for vehicles or equipment, or operational assistance for mobility management, staffing, etc. These types of projects could be used to provide medical or other trips which are not currently available through existing programs (i.e. “chained” trips, short-notice trips, wellness trips). This could also include geographical expansion of service territory, either for the trip origination or destination point.
* Projects which expand the ability of the elderly and disabled to access needed services. This could include equipment upgrades, such as replacing vehicles to increase wheelchair capacity, or fleet expansion, to allow more trips to be completed.
* Mobility management or other operational programs which increase the efficiency or utilization of existing services. Innovative programs which allow for better use of existing resources are encouraged. This could include projects to assist clients to access existing programs, adding capacity for administration or dispatch, or similar projects. Funding to increase staffing capacity, especially with regards to drivers for existing transportation services, is a key priority as well.
C. Coordination Activities
Although increasing the provision of transportation services is a key priority of this plan, it is important that such activities be conducted in a coordinated manner. Service capacity exists when the resources unused by one agency could conceivably be used by another. For example, vehicles which are in use only during certain days by one agency could theoretically be used during the rest of the week by another. Many agencies already cooperate to maximize existing resources. Examples of this type of coordination already exist in the A/GFTC area. In many cases, agencies are using their resources at full capacity already, while in others, logistical or regulatory barriers prevent sharing of resources.
This is not to say that further opportunities for coordination do not exist. Demand for services, technology, funding levels, demographics, and geographic considerations can and do shift continuously. As such, coordination among service providers should be a continuous point of focus. Clear and open lines of communication, as well as current data on the scopes of service for relevant agencies, should be maintained. Examples of coordination activities include, but are not limited to, the following:

* Trips
* Scheduling
* Referrals
* Ridesharing
* Vehicle sharing
* Training
* Maintenance
* Procurement
* Storage facilities
* Insurance

VI. Next Steps/Implementation
This plan outlines a variety of activities which could be undertaken to address the needs and priorities of the region. Some of these, such as the coordination activities listed above, can take place as opportunities arise, fostered by continued communication between human service agencies. Others, such as the establishment of new programs or services, or the expansion of existing efforts, may require additional funding.
A. Section 5310 Program
As stated in the introduction of this document, Section 5310 is currently the primary funding source for human service transportation administered at the MPO level. Projects which are identified or otherwise consistent with Section V of this plan are considered to be included in in a locally developed, coordinated public transit-human service transportation plan. In addition, successful 5310 projects include one or more opportunities for coordination. The goal should be to maximize the provision of effective services with the most efficient outlay of available resources.
At least 55 percent of program funds must be spent on the types of eligible capital projects, such as:
* Buses and vans; wheelchair lifts, ramps, and securement devices; transit-related information technology systems including scheduling/routing/one-call systems; and mobility management programs.
* Acquisition of transportation services under a contract, lease, or other arrangement. Both capital and operating costs associated with contracted service are eligible capital expenses. User-side subsidies are considered one form of eligible arrangement. Funds may be requested or contracted services covering a time period of more than one year.
The remaining 45 percent may be used for Capital and operating expenses for new public transportation services and alternatives beyond those required by the ADA, designed to assist individuals with disabilities and seniors, including:
* Travel training
* Volunteer driver programs
* Building an accessible path to a bus stop including curb-cuts, sidewalks, accessible pedestrian signals or other accessible features
* Improving signage or way-finding technology
* Incremental cost of providing same day service or door-to-door service
* Purchasing vehicles to support new accessible taxi, rides sharing and/or vanpooling programs
* Mobility management
Using these funds for operating expenses requires a 50 percent local match while using these funds for capital expenses (including acquisition of public transportation services) requires a 20 percent local match. Match can come from other Federal (non-DOT) funds. This can allow local communities to implement programs with 100 percent federal funding. One example is Older Americans Act (OAA) Title IIIB Supportive Services Funds. 5310 program recipients may partner with meal delivery programs such as the OAA-funded meal programs and the USDA Summer Food Service Program. Transit service providers receiving 5310 funds may coordinate and assist in providing meal delivery services on a regular basis if they do not conflict with the provision of transit services.
In addition, funding which originated through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA)_or the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) allows for 100% federal funding with no local match, provided that the funds are used for operational relief for activities related to the coronavirus. These ARPA and CARES funds were previously tied to the 2022 Section 5310 solicitation; further availability of these funds is not assured.
B. Other Activities
In addition to its role in helping to administer the Section 5310 program, A/GFTC will engage in other planning and coordination activities in furtherance of this plan. This includes:
* Continuing to participate in regional human service coordination efforts, including the Transportation Discussion Group hosted by GGFT/United Way.
* Providing transportation planning services and staff assistance through the United Planning Work Program, which allows for targeted analyses of topics related to human service transportation and transit.
* Continuing to promote ridesharing and other strategies which provide benefit to communities underserved by transportation services.
* Complete a Rural Workforce Transportation Plan in conjunction with the Lake Champlain-Lake George Regional Planning Board. Many of the issues identified within the CHSTP also affect rural residents who struggle to find transportation to work. The Rural Workforce Transportation Plan, anticipated to be completed in 2023, will take into account the priorities and projects identified within the CHSTP.