Travel training is responsible for increasing independence and access to public transportation for people with disabilities and older adults. The following is just a brief look at some of the successes experienced by travel trainees.
David is a talented musician who lives in Central Maryland. He wanted to learn how to use the local buses in order to travel to various locations throughout his community. As a result of participating in Central Maryland Regional Transit’s (CMRT) Travel Training program, David has learned how to plan trips using Google Maps as well as how to receive turn-by-turn walking directions that can be used when traveling from a bus stop to his desired destination. As a result of what he has learned through travel training, David frequently travels to and from the public library in his community independently. He has also traveled to places, such as the mall, Target, a friend’s house, the Maryland Academy of Music, and the place where he frequently receives vocal lessons.
David’s excitement and confidence in his ability to use the local buses is evident to anyone who has seen him during his commute. During David’s first time traveling independently by bus, he described his experience by saying “I was thrilled.”
David further enhanced his independence through learning ways to stay safe when using the local buses, such as who to ask for help while riding the bus. Now that David has completed travel training, he plans to increase his reliance on public transit to get around. He presently uses the local buses twice a week. He had never used the bus prior to receiving travel training services.
Prior to receiving travel training supports in order to safely access the community, James was dependent on friends and family to drive him to where he needed to go. James expressed interest in taking the bus in his community to see friends, go to the movies and college. Working with his support staff at On Our Own of Prince George’s County and travel trainers with Central Maryland Regional Transit, James learned all about the routes that were available to him and the skills he needed to ride transportation independently. He started his travel training by learning about trip planning and personal safety, and then worked with CMRT travel trainers in designing a travel instruction plan. The first route he learned was one that could take him to Prince George’s Community College in Largo, Maryland, where he picked up a college application and filled it out. A month later, James was accepted into an accredited program at PGCC and began taking college courses. He rides one bus to and from his classes, and takes another route to On Our Own, where he receives needed community and employment support services. Perhaps most important, James knows how to take other routes to see his friends and go to the mall and movies. James says, “As a grown man I needed to be independent in my community so I wouldn’t always have to ask my family and friends to drive me around. Now that I know how to ride the bus, I can take myself anywhere I need to go.
Lucas is an 18-year-old graduate from Parkville High School in Baltimore County who participated in CMRT’s Travel Training program to learn how to use the MTA’s fixed route system to travel throughout his community. According to Lucas, he didn’t want others driving him around. Although the his parents were considering having him apply for Mobility, the MTA’s paratransit service, Lucas wanted to try his luck using the MTA’s fixed route system.
Lucas quickly learned how to use applications (such as Google Maps) to plan walking and transit directions. During his first lesson, he was easily able to plan walking directions from the location where he receives vocational training to the bus stop where he would take the bus to get home and he was also able to plan his trip home using public transportation. During his second lesson, he was able to independently travel to and from his vocational training center with no difficulty.
Lucas also learned about what to do if the bus passes his stop. Lucas’ back up plan is“ If it’s not too far to walk, I can just walk back to the stop.” Lucas also knows that he can ask the Bus Operator to help him get back to the stop he needs.
Since self-advocacy is important as a transit rider, Lucas has also learned some of the policies related to accessibility. Such policies include the understanding that Bus Operators will help with reasonable requests for help and who can use the seats in the priority seating area. Lucas also learned how to file a proper complaint with the MTA if he encounters an issue during his commute on their system.
Lucas plans to use the bus to and from his training center. He presently travels 5 times a week via public transportation. Prior to receiving travel training, Lucas had no experience using the MTA’s fixed route network, however after receiving training, he no longer expresses interest in applying for MTA’s paratransit service.
Central Maryland Regional Transit (CMRT) works with individuals with disabilities and older adults in enhancing mobility options through its travel training program. Founded in 2011, the comprehensive training program is designed to teach people the necessary skills to travel safely and independently on fixed-route public transportation.
Travel Training for Older Adults (TCRP Report 168. Transit Cooperative Research Program, 2014)
Part I: A Handbook. Intended as “a manual for transportation, social service, aging, and training professionals that describes successful travel training practices and how to implement these practices in various community situations.” It discusses how to create a travel training program, where to form useful partnerships, and how to develop aspects of training that are critical.
Part II: Research Report and Case Studies. Describes how the findings for the project were developed and goes into detail on the case studies to explore what makes for a successful travel training program and how to measure success. Seven of the 20 sites studied were selected for in-depth consideration in this report.
If you have a travel training success story to share, please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to hear how travel training has improved or increased access to accessible transportation in your community.