At its recent stakeholder meeting on October 6, the Mercer County Coalition for Coordinated Transportation – whose mission is to improve transportation services for senior citizens, people with disabilities, and low-income residents of Mercer County – announced new projects designed to improve transportation services for these underserved populations. GMTMA is a member of the coalition and, along with ARC Mercer, has been awarded New Freedom grants through the Federal Transit Administration and New Jersey Transit to plan projects to enhance transportation options available in Mercer County.
The meeting was attended by nearly 100 community members, including representatives from human service organizations, advocacy groups, transit planners, and users of the transportation system. Attendees listened to presentations on the county’s transportation coordination accomplishments and helped craft an action plan to move forward.
Kicking off the proceedings was County Executive Brian Hughes, who was recognized for his consistent support of the coalition’s efforts. Hughes delivered a sobering reminder of the challenges posed by current economic conditions, but kept an encouraging tone in his discussion of how innovative collaboration and resource utilization can create successful synergies and effective outcome-driven programs.
Another highlight of the meeting was keynote speaker James McLary, our regional ambassador for the federal program, United We Ride. McLary, aided by years of experience and his easy Midwestern cadence, deftly unrolled the saga of mobility management before mentioning several nationwide projects garnering attention as successful coordination stories.
Following his address, participants joined small groups to outline their experiences with the transportation system and underscore its shortcomings. The groups then worked to offer solutions on how those shortcomings might best be addressed. Needless to say, the coalition will have some great insight moving forward.
The coalition has numerous initiatives on the horizon, including the continued effort to glean information about the transportation system and its users, the development of a series of targeted mobility projects, and the commencement of a more concerted outreach operation throughout the Mercer County community. Without adequate information, stakeholders and consumers will never quite be able to utilize the transportation system or benefit from the coalition’s endeavors to the optimal extent. However, with events like the one that took place this past Thursday and the tremendous showing of support from the various communities involved, it is assured that the county’s commitment to improving mobility for each and every one of its residents will not waiver any time soon.