7 Organizations Share $722,000 in FTA Research Grants
The public health community may have more of a say in the planning of future public transportation services in their communities, thanks to a grant announced today by Peter Rogoff, Administrator of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA).
The Public Health Institute of Oakland, Calif., will use the $150,000 grant—one of seven awarded as part of the Public Transportation Participation Pilot Program (PTP)—to develop ways to improve the public health community's involvement in the transportation planning process, as well as to assess the health impacts of transit projects. The effort will result in the publication of a "how-to" guide for public health advocacy in local public transportation planning.
Applicants competed for a share of $722,000 in grants by submitting their most innovative ideas for getting the community and stakeholders involved in the public transportation planning process. This year, a total of 57 proposals were submitted in response to FTA's call for ideas that take advantage of technologies and markets not addressed in the first three years of the PTP program, including community livability, youth, and Indian Tribal Lands.
Other winning proposals included the strategies for including young adults and immigrant communities in the planning process. Over the past three years, the FTA has used an annual authorization of $1 million to fund 22 separate projects. This year, the program’s final year, the FTA is awarding $722,000 to fund seven more projects and using the remaining $278,000 to promote and implement the ideas developed and tested by all grant recipients over the entire 4-year authorization.
An interagency, inter-office panel of reviewers chose the winners using criteria that included responsiveness to targeted themes, research method, innovativeness, transferability to other transit agencies, and team qualifications. The winning proposals are as follows:
"Expanding Activity Space: Engaging Low-Income Populations in the Visualization of Travel Behavior and Mobility Barriers"
- Sponsors: Research Foundation CUNY/Hunter College (New York, NY)
- Description: The proposed project aims to develop a new, easily replicable approach and method for engaging low income communities in identifying, analyzing, and visualizing their travel behavior and mobility barriers. This project offers to advance the state of practice in transportation planning by actively working with underserved and under-represented populations to collect new experiential data linking types of trips, viable travel distances, specific mobility barriers, and the socio-economic and cultural contexts in which the trips occur, providing: a more holistic understanding of the transportation experience of low-income populations, looking at overall mobility instead of the narrow focus on journey-to-work trips, a method for exploring and visually representing issues not adequately addressed in the traditional transportation planning process such as personal conceptions of space and distance; a mechanism for two-way communication and education about transportation planning, and an opportunity to bring community-generated visualization to agencies and transportation providers to allow planners to better evaluate transportation improvement projects, policies and opportunities for cooperation that are most likely to have beneficial impacts on overall mobility.
- Sponsor: National Charrette Institute (Portland, OR)
- Description:The NCI Charrette System Guide for Transit Oriented Development (TOD) will be a concise nuts-and-bolts reference for planning TOD projects. The Guide will be based on the NCI Charrette System, a holistic collaborative project management system designed for complex, contentious projects. It will describe a three-phase process framework that can be customized for the unique needs and issues of each project. The Guide may be used by all those involved in TOD planning, including MPOs, state, city and county planning agencies, transit agencies, consultants and community advocacy groups. The Guide will describe the process, tools and techniques required to completely plan a TOD project from its inception through implementation. The Guide will also include three case studies of successful TOD projects that used charrettes, representing a range of TOD typologies.
"Social Networking and Planning Project (SNAPP)"
- Sponsor: Texas Citizen Fund-Alliance for Public Transportation (Austin, TX)
- Description: The Social Networking and Planning Project (SNAPP) will integrate social networking applications and deploy strategic communications to engage young adults, and other social networkers, in the city of Austin's Urban Rail Design and Environmental Studies. The Alliance for Public Transportation (A4PT) will coordinate with the city of Austin, Capital Metro, and CAMPO to design and deploy an integrated array of online social networking applications to (1) make information more accessible, (2) increase electronic participation and collaboration toward project decision-making at different phases, and (3) create a critical mass online as direct inputs into decisions to be made and (4) to increase participation levels toward "in person" traditional public participation activities. SNAPP brings together transportation professionals, university students, private sector technology professionals, and planning professionals to help integrate a multi-pronged collaborative use of social networking technology including a website, Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, and other applications to reach and engage younger adult audiences.
"Partnership for Inclusive, Cost-Effective Public Participation"
- Sponsor: Manchester Community College (Manchester, CT)
- Description: The "Partnership for Inclusive, Cost-Effective Public Participation" project intends to improve the public participation practice by creating and piloting a cost-effective public participation national model whereby students are taught in Communication and related college courses how to conduct discussions of transportation planning issues in their own communities to meaningfully involve youth, low-income, and minority populations. In partnership with the regional transportation planning organization Capital Region Council of Governments in Hartford, CT (CRCOG), Manchester Community College (Manchester, CT) will focus on a local planning context to develop and pilot a model that can be used in various local and regional areas through similar partnerships with the system of over 1,000 community colleges in the country.
"Increasing Public Health Participation in Transportation Planning: Health on Wheels and Rails!"
- Sponsor: Public Heath Institute (Oakland,CA)
- Description: The goal of this project is to engage a broad spectrum of community stakeholders—from low-income neighborhood leaders, to nonprofit technical experts, to government agencies directing significant public resources—in a coordinated effort to improve public engagement and public health outcomes from public transportation projects. Public Health Law & Policy (PHLP), a project of the Public Health Institute (PHI),? will lead a multi-disciplinary team that includes TransForm (transportation advocates), Human Impact Partners (epidemiologists) and the Asian Pacific Environmental Network (community organizers) in a participatory process with neighborhood residents, public health agency staff, and transportation and land use planners in the San Francisco Bay Area. Two main deliverables will be developed by the proposed project: 1) A “how to” guide, “Framework for Health Participation in Public Transportation Planning” will provide a roadmap for public health advocacy in local public transportation planning; and; 2) A prototype Health Impact Assessment (HIA) will analyze health impacts of public transportation projects.
"Strategies to Improve Immigrants' Access to the Planning of Public Transportation"
- Sponsor: Department of Urban Planning, UCLA (Los Angeles, CA)
- Description: This project addresses the barriers facing immigrant communities to participating in the planning of public transit. The researchers will use focus groups in immigrant communities and interviews with stakeholders to ascertain means through which the public sector can more effectively engage immigrants in public participation processes. The project will develop a better understanding of the travel needs of immigrants, their involvement in transit planning, as well as a toolkit for use by public transit agencies for more fully engaging immigrant communities.
"Evaluating the Benefits of Technology on Public Participation in the Public Transportation Planning Process"
- Sponsor: North Dakota State University (Fargo, ND)
- Description: The objective of the study is to evaluate the benefits of employing an integrated system of technologies and practices to improve public participation in the public transportation planning process by conducting a demonstration project in the Fargo-Moorhead (ND-MN) Urbanized Area. Tangential benefits of the project include a permanent, sustainable technological and organizational planning infrastructure; an expanded community-wide network of participants, including individuals from traditionally underrepresented groups; and information for use in future planning efforts. In addition to the project’s final report, interim developments and findings will be available online so that interested parties may benefit immediately.