December 27, 2012

NEWS: Phoenix NEMT Company Helping Homeless Veterans

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - Dec. 17, 2012 - The following video news coverage shows how one local Phoenix NEMT company is supporting the needs of a local charity during this Christmas Season. Quality Transport Services (QTS) has collected and transported over 500 badly needed blankets and jackets to the JustA Center, a day center for homeless seniors in the Phoenix area. QTS will continue to receive donations through the Blanket Drive page of their website, where those interested in supporting the program can contact them. QTS has an interesting back-story, to learn more read my earlier post, NEMT Profile: Quality Transport Services.

December 10, 2012

NEWS: LogistiCare Run NEMT Brokerage in Texas Draws Complaints

TEXAS - Nov. 08, 2012 - In the lead up to proposed public hearings in the Dallas-Fort Worth Region looking into the current state and future options available for the Medical Transportation Program (MTP) in Texas, local TV station KDFW does an investigative report (Video #1) and then follows-up with a story on the public forums (Video #2). The MPT provides transport to eligible Medicaid, Children with Special Needs (CSHCN), and Indigent Cancer Patient (TICP) clients who have no other means of transportation to access necessary health services. Since April 2012, LogistiCare has been managing the North Texas Medicaid MTP under a $30 million annual contract. Since that time as many as 6000 complaints have been received ranging from missed trips, late pick-ups, injuries to clients, and long wait times on the phone. The Human Services Commission (HHSC) will use the public input gathered from the forums as it considers future restructuring of the program operations throughout the state. To learn more read Investigation: Medical Pickup Problems (KDFW-TV), Medical Transportation Program Stakeholder Forums (HHSC), and my own post: What is LogistiCare?

December 9, 2012

NEWS: LogistiCare Terminates Wisconsin NEMT Brokerage Contract

WISCONSIN - LogistiCare notified notified the State of Wisconsin that it will be terminating it's contract with the state to manage non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) services for Medicaid and BadgerCare Plus recipients. LogistiCare will end operations in the state as of February 17, 2013. It said it was leaving Wisconsin because they were losing money under the current contract because the demand for rides was far greater than anticipated. Citing the state's slowness in implementing promised policy changes concerning eligibility as the reason. Termination of the contract brought about the need for a new round of offers to take over the NEMT Brokerage. Interestingly, LogistiCare has made it known that it plans to offer a bid. To find out more read: Citing Ride Volume, LogistiCare Terminates Contract with State (Journal Sentinel), LogistiCare May Not be Leaving State (Journal Sentinel), and my own previous post concerning this issue: Wisconsin Senate Hearings Investigate LogistiCare Brokerage.

NEMT Provider Profile: GoodFaith Medical Transportation

CALIFORNIA - GoodFaith Medical Transportation is a non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) company based in San Bernardino. They provide assisted ambulatory, wheelchair, and gurney/stretcher transport services throughout California's Inland Empire Region. Entrepreneur, Connie Threlkel founded the company in 1992 with one van and one driver. It is today the longest serving NEMT company operating in San Bernardino. Future plans include replacing and expanding their fleet with natural gas fuelled vehicles. The following video features Connie Threlkel (her segment begins at 1:35 min.), along with the two other finalists for the 2012 Inland Empire Service Based Entrepreneur of the Year Spirit Award.

November 25, 2012

NEMT Talk: New Forum for Non-Emergency Medical Transportation

I have long thought that people in the Non-Emergency Medical Transportation Industry need a platform where they can talk and exchange ideas, information, and experiences with each other. So, I was glad to see that a forum has just been started that addresses this need. It's called NEMT Talk. It's free, easy to use, and there is a number of different topics of discussion that would be of interest to any involved in NEMT. They range from general discussions to specific areas on dispatch software, licensing, gurneys, wheelchairs, financing, insurance, vehicles (ambulettes), Medicaid brokers, and a 'for sale'/'want to buy' section. NEMT is a highly de-centralized industry. So much of how it is administered, regulated, and provided happens at the local, county or state level. I think part of the interest in my own blog stems from a lack of any central forum. I hope that NEMT Talk can be just such a place. I've just signed-up, and I encourage anyone involved or interested in the NEMT industry to check out.

November 17, 2012

NEMT Business Idea #6: Diversifying into Home Health Care Services

CASE STUDY - Lina Services is an example of a company that has successfully combined both Non-Emergency Medical Transportation (NEMT) and Home Health Care. It was established in 1993 as an agency offering both of these services in Hamden, Connecticut; a city of 60,000 people that is a suburb of New Haven. In 2003, they started an Adult Day Center Program and Meals-On-Wheels Service for seniors in New Haven and Fairfield Counties. In 2007 they started a similar Adult Day Center Program in neighboring Stamford. Today they employ over 200 people in their 2 locations. The principal reason for NEMT companies to diversify into Home Health Care and related services is because the customer base or market is largely the same. The clintele of Lina Services is made up mostly of Title XIX Recipients (Connecticut Medicaid), although it is branching out to attract more private-pay customer. Lina Services offers to these people and their families an affordable alternative to moving into an Assisted Living Facility or Nursing Home.

SERVICES - Lina Medical Transport currently operates a fleet of 18 sedan type vehicles providing rides in an area which includes Hamden, North Haven, East Haven, West Haven, Orange, Woodbridge, New Haven, Bethany, Branford, and Milford. They are an approved provider for Connecticut's Medicaid Transport Program, working directly with Logisicare Inc and Coordinated Transportation Solution. Lina Homecare provides a variety of non-medical services including homemaker, companion, personal care, live-in care, and support care services. They are an approved provider of the Connecticut Home Care Program for Elders (CHCPE), administered by the Connecticut Department of Social Services (DSS). Lina Adult Day Care is for the elderly or disabled who are unable to participate in other supportive programs in the community. The program has nursing, recreation, nutrition, transportation, and social service components. Lena Meal-On-Wheels, under the direction of a Registered and Licensed Dietitian prepares and delivers meals 7 days/week to home-bound individuals who are unable to obtain or prepare meals for themselves. 

EFFICIENCIES IN DIVERSIFICATION - Lina Services has been able to grow and diversify over the past 2 decades by paying close attention to both the needs of their customer base and the Government support programs that offer financial reimbursement to companies or agencies that provide services to that population. Lina Services has been developed around a model of non-medical service. As such, there are efficiencies that can be realized that another company (for example: one that was modeled solely on transportation) would not. Agencies can that provide a variety of health and support services give their employees the opportunity to take on a variety of roles within the company. For a company such as Lina Services this could mean the same staff that prepare the dishes for Wheels-On-Meals can also prepare and serve meals at the Day Program, while utilizing the same kitchen facilities for both. Likewise, the same staff that work with the clients at the Adult Day Program or in the Home Care Service could also be available to act as companions to customers that use the transportation service. The demand for companion services, especially escorting clients to medical appointments (see: Home Health Care Transportation) is growing, but many NEMT companies find they are not able to capitalize on this because they lack the trained staff. In the same way, drivers and vehicles that provide the NEMT service could be used for both the delivery of Meals-On-Wheels, as well as providing transport to the Adult Day Program (see: NEMT Business Idea #3).

LEARNING MORE - For either the NEMT company looking to diversify into Home Care, or conversely: the Home Care Agency contempating branching into Non-Emegency Medical Transportation; the idea of expanding into a very different industry would bring some trepidation. But companies such as Lina Services show that the two in fact, compliment each other. For any company or entrepreneur wanting to explore this idea further: Joel Davis, the author of How to Build a Million Dollar Transportation Company has written a new book, How to Build a Million Dollar Home Care Agency. The following video introduces this unique new resource that has been specifically prepared to help NEMT and Home Care businesses take advantage of the market opportunities associated with the growing elderly population.

October 27, 2012

Wisconsin Senate Hearings Investigate LogistiCare Brokerage

WISCONSIN - The ongoing complaints from service providers, community and health organizations, along with Medicaid transportation users and their families concerning the Non-Emergency Medical Transportation (NEMT) brokerage system operated by LogistiCare prompted the Wisconsin Senate Committee on Health, Revenue, Tax Fairness, and Insurance to hold an informational hearing in Milwaukee on October 18, 2012. Full, raw video footage of the hearing can be viewed on the Wisconsin Eye website. The following videos provided by the community publication, Madison Voices show just some of the over 40 presentations from the hearing. The various testimonies relate a litany of service problems involving the LogistiCare operated NEMT brokerage: missed trips, chronic late pickups/drop-offs, inconsistent service, lack of payment to transport providers, poor communication between the broker with service providers, inadequate cost reimpursment to providers, clients experiencing frustrating complaint run-arounds from LogistiCare customer service, and serious questions regarding the cost savings of Wisconsin's current 3 year contractual arrangement with LogistiCare. If there is one positive to take away from these disturbing allegations, is that they are being aired, and aired in public forum. If you go my post, What is LogistiCare?, you will find links to my other posts concerning similar situations across the United States. Hearings such as this one could serve as a starting point to work toward solutions to address issues involving Medicaid NEMT brokers, not only in Wisconsin but elsewhere. For more information see: Complaints Prompt Informational Hearing on LogistiCare (Journal-Sentinal), LogistiCare FAIL Kills Yet Sen. Fitzgerald Refuses to Appoint Republican Committee Members (Milwaukee Voices), and my own previous post concerning this issue - One Year Later, Problems Persist for LogistiCare in Wisconsin.

October 20, 2012

NEWS: East Bay Paratransit Transfer Policy Leaves Customer Stranded

CALIFORNIA - October 17, 2012 - The unfortunate, and not uncommon story of a paratransit customer dropped off at a transit terminal and required to pay the full extra fare to the connecting paratransit service. In this case the wheelchair user claims she had not been informed by East Bay Paratransit of the added $9 that she would need to make the final leg of her journey from the Orinda BART Station to her medical appointment on the other side of the Bay in Palo Alto. When her connecting paratransit bus arrrived it was then she was informed of the additional fare. She did not have that amount of cash, so she was refused tranport. The service, which is operated by Veolia Transportation said they were following policy. As a result, the woman was unable to get to her appointment which she may be penalized $500 for missing. On the paratransit provider's Frequently Asked Questions webpage it does state that transfers outside of their service area will require extra fare. To learn of a similar story in Georgia see: No Free Breeze Card Transfers for Atlanta Area Paratransit Users. In this case, the paratransit user and her family raised this issue with local authorities, leaders, and the media and was able to bring about change.

October 14, 2012

UPDATE: One Year Later, Problems Persist for LogistiCare in Wisconsin

WISCONSIN - Since Sept. 1, 2012 when LogistiCare took over as broker for the 270,000 Medicaid and BadgerCare Plus recipients in the greater Milwaukee area that require non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT), complaints from riders, transport providers, and health professionals have persisted. As early as July 2011, when LogistiCare began operations in Wisconson, (see: LogistiCare Run NEMT Brokerage in Wisconsin Draws Complaints) questions have surfaced regarding the handling of the Medicaid Transportation Brokerage for the State. It has prompted some in the media, such as the Journal Sentinel and Madison Voices to investigate. The following video presents some of the findings and opinions of  Madison Voices. They begin by providing background into what led the State to contract LogistiCare to provide NEMT management services in the first place: how the system was intended to operate, save money, and provide improved service. They then run through the various problems that seem to be plaguing LogitiCare's operations, and what solutions there might be. What's happening in Wisconsin is unfortunately part of a larger national narrative of difficulties involved with the transition of Medicaid NEMT Brokerages from State operated, to private management by companies such as LogistiCare. To learn more, read my posts: What is LogistiCare? and Medicaid NEMT Brokerages.

October 7, 2012

NEMT Provider Profile: World Ambulette Transportation

NEW YORK - World Ambulette Transportation is a non-emergency medical transportation company based in Queens, New York. In operation since 2010, it provides services throughout the 5 boroughs of New York City (Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island). World Ambulette Transportation provides wheelchair accessible transports for Medicaid and private-pay customers for medical or personal trips. Their vehicles are all approved by the NYS DOT, all are equipped with GPS, and are all inspected daily by their professionally trained drivers. Find more services on our New York State NEMT Directory.

October 2, 2012

Non-Profit: South East Dorset Community Accessible Transport

UNITED KINGDOM - South East Dorset Community Accessible Transport (SEDCAT) is a newly established non-profit organization that provides community transport services for South East Dorset. SEDCAT services include: The BAT Bus, a wheelchair accessible door-to-door shopping service; Community Cars, a volunteer driving program; Shopmobility, a short-term wheelchair and scooter rental program; and Long Loan Mobility Equipment, for long-term wheelchair and scooter rentals.

September 30, 2012

Non-Profit Spotlight: Te Awamutu Community Health Transport

NEW ZEALAND - Te Awamutu Community Health Transport Trust is non-profit organization that provides a wheelchair accessible and assisted ambulatory transport service to get people to medical appointments Hamilton, New Zealand. The following video was shot during the 2011 official launch of the project. Because this area is too close to the nearby regional health facility to obtain transport funding, the local Te Awamutu community worked together to bring about this volunteer run service.

September 29, 2012

Dallas DART Adds Accessible MV-1s to Paratransit Fleet

DALLAS - Beginning Octorber 1, 2012; Dallas DART will be introducing a new service delivery model which will include 3 vehicle types in their paratransit fleet. This includes the familiar paratransit buses, taxi sedans/vans, and the new wheelchair accessible MV-1. The buses and MV-1 will continue to be operated by MV Transportation. Taxi drivers will receive the same specialized training as the MV Transportation drivers. Another change planned for by the end of the year will be an online booking feature through the DART website.

September 28, 2012

Non-Profit Spotlight: Larkhall and District Volunteer Group, Scotland

UNITED KINGDOM - Larkhall and District Volunteer Group (LDVG) is a non-profit organization that has been providing a variety of services for the elderly, housebound, disabled, and isolated members of the community within Larkhall, Scotland and surrounding area since 1994. These services include: community transport, lunch groups, handy-person service, morning call line. and a weekly support group. The LDVG community transport minibuses are wheelchair accessible.  The program operates with the help of volunteers that act as passenger attendants and drivers.

September 27, 2012

Non-Profit Spotlight: South West Community Transport, Glasgow

UNITED KINGDOM - South West Community Transport is non-profit organization that provides a variety of transport services to older adults and persons with disabilities in Glasgow, Scotland. The following video features Gok Wan for Vodafone's World of Difference. The program matches applicants such as Lisa Jamieson with their dream charity. The Vodafone Foundation will provide money to employ the successful applicant for 2 months full-time or 4 months part-time. It provides applicants with valuable experience working in their field of the interest while giving charities such as South West Community Transport some much needed help without any cost to them.

September 26, 2012

NEWS: Cuts to Texas Medicaid Transportation Funding Protested

TEXAS - September 25, 2012 - Cuts to transportation paid for by Texas Medicaid have left many children unable to access rehabilitation services. Representatives from the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) gathered at the Regional Academic Health Center in Harlingen, Texas to protest the cuts. They said as many as 100,000 children in the region would be affected by the funding cut backs, and children from families without health care insurance coverage would be hardest hit. To learn more see: LULAC Protests Rehab Transportation Cuts (Valley Central).

September 25, 2012

Paratransit Providers: TransHelp

ONTARIO - TransHelp is the paratransit service for the Regional Municipality of Peel which includes the areas of Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga, Ontario.  The provide door-to-door wheelchair accessible service. For riders that need to travel outside of the coverage area, TransHelp utilizes transfer points so passengers can access transit services to nearby Toronto.

September 24, 2012

Provider Profile: Provence Handicap

FRANCE - Provence Handicap is a privately owned transportation company that provides wheelchair accessible and assisted ambulatory transport services throughout the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence area in the south of France. The region is a popular travel destination. From their base in Les Mees, Provence Handicap serves the needs of tourists and locals alike, for individual or group trips. To view their website with english translation, click here

September 23, 2012

Transportation Leaders: Joel Davis, founder of the United Medical Transportation Providers Group

LEADERS - Joel Davis is the founder of the United Medical Transportation Providers Group (UMTPG) and the author of the bestselling e-book: How to Build a Million Dollar Medical Transportation Company, considered by many as the 'Bible' of the Non-Emergency Medical Transportation (NEMT) Industry. A graduate of West Point, after a stint playing in the NFL, Joel started his first business, a NEMT company in 1999. He built it from scratch: doing the initial market research, analyzing the competition, formulating a solid business plan, and getting the company off the ground. He started with a single used wheelchair accessible van with himself as driver doing all the work. The business gained a reputation for great customer service and dependable transportation. It was awarded valuable contracts and as the business grew, Joel expanded the fleet and hired additional drivers, as well as office and operational staff. In 2004, he published the first edition of How to Build a Million Dollar Transportation Company. It's a no-nonsense realistic how-to-guide for entrepreneurs starting-up their own NEMT company. It is written specifically for the industry by someone that knows first hand, the 'ins and outs' of the business. As a result of the interest in the e-book, Joel began hosting seminars, offering consulting services, and creating other materials that have been proven to be invaluable resourses for both beginning entrepreneurs with no prior business experience, as well as established and experienced NEMT operators who have turned to Joel to help take their business to the next level of success. Because he is so actively engaged one-on-one with so many NEMT owners from across the United States and Canada, Mr. Davis is able to view and understand trends in the NEMT industry from a unique perspective that few have. Because of this, he recognized that there was a real need for a national organization that could represent, protect, and promote the interests of independent NEMT providers. As a result, Joel founded the UMTPG in 2010. Besides it's advocacy work, the UMTPG offers members valuable insurance, endorsement, and certification benefits. To learn more about Joel, check out some of the following posts I have written that feature many of the entrepreneurs that he has helped.


Start Your Own NEMT Business
United Medical Transportation Providers Group
Health Care and the Future of NEMT
Case Study: The Wheelchair Taxi
Case Study: Loving Touch Transportation
Case Study: Tropical Transportation
Case Study: Basic Life Support
Million Dollar Transportation Seminar
NEMT Business Plan
NEMT Entrepreneur Mentoring Program
Dispatching Made Easy 2.0

September 22, 2012

NEWS: New York City TLC Struggles to Clean Up Dollar Van Industry

NEW YORK - The following investigative report looks into illegal Dollar Vans continuing to operate on the streets of Brooklyn, New York. While some carriers have complied with licence and permit regulations, many continue to defy the law despite efforts by the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission (NYC TLC) to clean up the Dollar Van industry. The NYC TLC had even undertaken a pilot program to utilize Dollar Vans to help serve abandoned transit routes that had been cut by the MTA. The program was discontinued because many Dollar Van drivers did not find the routes lucrative enough, service was sporadic, and ridership was low. To learn more read: City Seeks ‘Dollar Vans’ to Operate on Dead MTA Routes and Dollar Van Program a Total Bust.

Non-Profit Spotlight: Brighton & Hove Community Transport

UNITED KINGDOM - Brighton and Hove Community Transport is a non-profit organization that provides a variety of affordable transportation services to community and volunteer groups, and individuals with mobility challenges in the Brighton and Hove area on the south coast of England. These services include group bus hire, as well as provision of wheelchair accessible door-to-door bus services for shopping, outings, and programs. They are also certified to provide MiDAS Driver Training. The following video is an excerpt from a promo produced by Federated Films for Brighton and Hove Community Transport.

September 21, 2012

NEWS: 2 People Rescued from Stranded Scottsdale, AZ NEMT Van

ARIZONA - August 23, 2012 - The driver of a Dependable Medical Transportation Service (DMTS) van became stuck on a flooded street after failing to heed warning signs not use the road when flooded. Firefighters from Scottsdale, Tempe, and Phoenix needed to be called in to rescue the driver and a passenger who was using a wheelchair. That night there had been a heavy down pour of rain in a short span of time that had caused the storm drainage system to overflow. The DMTS ambulette was on route to take the passenger to dialysis treatment at the time the driver hit what he thought was a pot hole and ended up in the ditch surrounded by fast flowing water. At the time of the incident, charges were pending against the driver for reckless driving. You can see the full police report here.

NEMT Profile: KnM Transportation

NEMT PROVIDER PROFILE - KnM Transportation is a wheelchair accessible non-emergency medical transportation company operating in Washington State. They provide mobility impaired (disability) transportation services throughout the Olympic Penninsula which includes Kitsap, Pierce, Mason, King, Snomish, Jefferson, and Clallam Counties. KnM Transportation has contracts with local rehabilitation and assisted living facilities.

September 20, 2012

Culture: TAXi (French) 1998-2007

TAXI (FRENCH) - TAXi is a series of four movies which became one of the France's most successful movie franchises grossing $200 million worldwide and 23 million admissions in France alone. The 1998 movie Taxi directed by Gérard Pirès, starred Samy Naceri as a Marseille taxi driver who aspires to be a race car driver. He eludes police with his extremely customized high performance taxi cab. The original movie was very successful and spun off a number of sequels: Taxi 2 (2000), Taxi 3 (2003), and Taxi 4 (2007). An American remake (Taxi 2004) starring Queen Latifah and Jimmy Fallon was produced in 2004.

VIDEO #1 - TAXi 1 - Trailer

VIDEO #2 - TAXi 2 Trailer

VIDEO #3 - TAXi 3 Trailer

VIDEO #4 - TAXi 4 Trailer

September 19, 2012

Mixed Opinions Regarding Brooklyn's Controversial Dollar Vans

NEW YORK - The following community news video from 2006 looks at the sometimes controversial Dollar Vans of Brooklyn. The investigative report by Thomas Giglio includes interviews with local residents near the Kings Plaza Shopping Center in Mill Basin, as well as the then New York City Council Member, Yvette Clark, and then NYS Senator, Carl Kruger who would eventually resign his postion in 2011 to face federal charges of bribery. While Kruger is adamantly apposed to the presence of the Dollar Vans, Clark believes that they provide a much needed service to the community, but as an industry it has to become more professional and accountable. Since 2007, Yvette Clarke has served as the Representative for New York's 11th Congressional District.

September 17, 2012

Artists from Dollar Van Demos featured in McDonald's Commercial

NEW YORK - Dollar Van Demos is a unique video showcase for talented performers in Brooklyn that uses that New York Borough's Dollar Vans as a format to share their talents. Local musicians, rappers and comedians perform alongside ordinary Dollar Van passengers as filmmaker, Joe Revitte records the performance, which is later posted onto YouTube. As shown in the following video, even McDonald's used this concept as part of their "dollar menu" commercial campaign which included artists such as WordSpit and Joya Bravo that Dollar Van Demos has helped bring attention to. Go to McDonalds Hits the Road with Dollar Van Demos (Vibe) to learn more. Here are links to both commercials featuring Joya Bravo and WordSpit.

September 16, 2012

NEWS: Street Racing Dollar Vans Involved in Hit and Run Fatality

BROOKLYN NY - September 6, 2012 - Witnesses say they saw what appeared to be two Dollar Vans street racing down Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, New York during the night when one of the vans hit a pedestrian and several cars. The driver of the van reportedly then got out of that vehicle and got into another Dollar Van and left the scene. The pedestrian was later pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital. Three others were reported as injured. See: Drag Racing Dollar Vans Cause Deadly Hit And Run In Brooklyn (PIX 11), to find out more.

September 15, 2012

Shared-Ride: New York's Dollar Vans

NEW YORK - The Dollar Van is a type of shard-ride jitney operating primarily in the New York City Boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx. They began as a citizen response to a transit strike during the 1980's. Privately owned and operated, Dollar Vans follow routes along main thoughfares, stopping at designated points, but often will pick-up rides that have hailed them from the street (which is illegal). They charge less than the public transit fare, often run more frequently than transit, and have in recent years expanded to serve routes that the MTA has abandoned or are poorly serviced. The vehicles are usually standard 14 seat vans without any distinctive exterior paint or signage. According to an article in The Atlantic: The (Illegal) Private Bus System That Works, New York's Dollar Van industry if taken all together would amount to the size of the 20th largest bus service in the United States. There are an estimated 350 licensed and 500 licensed vehicles in operation. The Wall Sreet Journal in the article: Illegal, but Very Popular, estimates that from 100,000 to 120,000 riders a day use Dollar Vans in Queens and Brooklyn. The local success of the Dollar Van has prompted others elsewhere to consider adopting the concept (see: New York's Dollar Vans: Could They Work Here? - Portland, Ore.).

Street Racing Dollar Vans Involved in Hit and Run Fatality
Artists from Dollar Van Demos featured in McDonald's Commercial
Mixed Opinions Regarding Brooklyn's Controversial Dollar Vans
New York City TLC Struggles to Clean Up Dollar Van Industry

September 14, 2012

Shared-Ride: Ukraine's Marshrutka

SHARE-RIDE - Marshrutka is a form of shared-ride taxi or minibus found in number of former Soviet Republics and neighboring regions. Marshrutka means "routed taxi" in Russian and Ukrainian. Their origin goes back to the 1930's when they were first introduced in Moscow as an economical shared-ride routed taxi service that used a zone-fare system. By the 1990's, Marshrutka minibuses had become common in many places. It was at this time with the introduction of market economics, declining government support of public transit, and a wave of migration to cities that the more affordable Marshrutka experienced a boom. They are predominantly privately owned, but public participation in some areas has helped keep fares low and has seen the introduction of safety and licensing regulations such as mandatory service for persons with disabilities. The following video was made in Kiev (Kyiv), Ukraine by Nadia Parfan and Taras Khimchak in 2010.

September 12, 2012

NEWS: NYC School Bus Co. Accused of Violating State Car Seat Law

NEW YORK - September 11, 2012 - A mother of a 3 year old special needs student who went on-board a her daughters school bus was shocked to see as many as 10 young students all but 1 without car seats to ride in. The New York State Motor Vehicle Traffic Law requires children under the age of four to be restrained in a federally approved car seat when riding in a motor vehicle. Plus there are further restrictions if the child is under a certain height and/or weight, which is sometimes the case with special needs kids. The Department of Education is investigating, and the carrier, Thomas Bus, Inc. is expected to comply. Thomas Bus is said to be newly contracted this year. This is not the only complaint involving this company this new school year: Brooklyn Parents Fume as Buses Don’t Show (Daily News).
New York News | New York City Breaking News

September 11, 2012

Putting Social Justice and Social Change at the Heart of Business

SOCIAL ENTERPRISE - CAN is a UK social enterprise that provides office space, business support and a venture capitol fund to aid social ventures and charities start-up, grow, and maximize their social impact. The following video hosted by Kate Markey of CAN features two recognized leaders of the social enterprise movement: Phil Conway, founder and CEO of Cool2Care and Dai Powell, CEO of HCT Group, a social enterprise in the UK passenger transportation industry. In the interview, Dai Powell shares some of his thoughts about operating a transportation company as a social enterprise: "Social Enterprise is a different way of doing business. It is a way of doing business that puts social justice and social change at the heart of the business. You have to be a good business, but you're there for social change. For us it's key that all the work we do has social value. So we provide a lot of public transport and a lot of care transport. That in itself has social value, but it's the surpluses we generate from that we can reinvest in the communities where we work. Social Enterprise is different from charities, in the way that they use the skills and tools of business to make social good; to change society. In a charity you're not in control of the good you do. It has to be down to someone else; someone giving you grants, someone giving you donations. I see social enterprise as a revolution in the way business is conducted. If you don't have big dreams and big ambitions, there's no point. If you want to work, and work for value, and work for a difference be involved with social enterprise". To learn more, read my main post on the HCT Group.

September 9, 2012

HCT Social Enterprise Champions

UNITED KINGDOM - The Social Enterprise Champions program is a unique initiative of the HCT Group. The program's goal is to connect all HCT staff with it's social mission of providing "mobility, access, and training". Over the past years as HCT has grown, it has became apparent that many new employees (some who have joined through social transfer) were unaware of what social enterprise was, and even that HCT was one. In an effort to change this, HCT has embarked on a long range plan to engage their employees with the nature of a social enterprise: "that they exist to benefit our communities; not profit from them". The Social Enterprise Champions program is made up of frontline staff. As a group they learn about social enterprise, they visit other social enterprises, visit HCT projects, and recieve coaching and support from colleages at HCT such as it's CEO, Dai Powell. The following video features Dai Powell along with the 18 "Champions" celebrating Social Enterprise Day. In his address to the participants, Dai Powell shares his belief that what they are doing is "changing how capitalism works; making capitalism work for the people". To learn more, read my main post for the HCT Group.

NEWS: Special Needs Student Attacked On Nashville School Bus

TENNESSEE - September 07, 2012 - An attack onboard a Nashville, school bus by a group of 6 students upon a 5th grade special needs student has lead to disiplinary actions against the 6 and questions regarding the driver' response. In an effort to escape, the special needs student tried to get off the bus. Because the driver was not stopping, the desparate child bit the driver and then broke the door open in a bid to free himself. The special needs student was later taken to hospetal. Examination showed that he had been repeatedly hit, kicked, and stomped on by the other 6 students. All students involved were being transported to Brick Church College Prep in Nashville. Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools is investigating the matter. The special needs student has been assigned to a different bus for the time being. News, Weather

September 8, 2012

BCT's MiDAS and PATS Training

UNITED KINGDOM - Bristol Community Transport (BCT) is the largest community transport operator in Bristol. It maintains a fleet of 33 vehicles that are used by over 600 non-profit organizations. This provides these groups with a low-cost alternative to buying or leasing their own vehicles. While, BCT does have volunteer drivers, member organizations often provide their own MiDAS trained operators. Besides community transport, BCT also provides a wheelchair accessible car hire service, as well as MiDAS Minibus Driver and PATS Passenger Assistant Training. MiDAS and PATS are administered nationally by the Community Transport Association (CTA). CTA provides approved organizations such as BCT the means to train and assess minibus drivers and passenger attendants to nationally recognized standards. As a member of the HCT Group, BCT offers the same MiDAS training that their HCT colleagues provide in Hackney, Haringey, Islington, Lambeth/Southwark, and Leeds. Graduates from these training programs will then be able to operate the minibuses and assist the passengers in any of the low-cost alternative Group Transport (minibus hire) schemes provided by HCT Group members. To learn more, see my other posts about BCT and HCT Group.

HCT Group Mentoring Social Entrepreneurs through 'On Purpose'

SOCIAL ENTERPRISE - On Purpose UK is a self-funded organization that matches social entrepreneurs (associates) with social enterprises (hosts). On Purpose combines 4 main elements: work placements, training, coaching, and mentoring. One of the "host" social enterprises is HCT Group, a London based social venture that supports it's core social mission of providing wheelchair accessible community transport by earning income through the various contract work it does in the UK passenger transportation industry. HCT CEO, Dai Powell, along with others are featured in the following video that shows how On Purpose works. In it, Dai Powell describes social enterprise as a "different way of doing business. It is the business model of the century, and there will be more over the years to come". At HCT, On Purpose associates have worked on social impact reporting, and were involved in an ongoing project that has brought improved efficiency to the organization. To learn more, read my main post on the HCT Group.

Shared-Ride: Kenya's Matatu Buses

KENYA - The Matatu is a type of privately owned and operated shared-ride transportation found in Kenya and neighbouring countries of East Africa. The word 'Matatu' is derived from the Swahili phrase for '3 shillings', which was the original cost of using the service. They are found throughout the country and operate within urban areas on routes between terminals, as well as providing interurban service between cities and towns. In Kenya the industry is highly regulated compared to similar shared-ride modes of transport in other parts of Africa. They are usually a minivan, but could also be a bigger bus or even a pick-up truck. There could be a 'tout', or conductor. They could be luxurious with lots of amenities, or you may be riding in the open on dusty road, crammed in with several people and even small livestock. Some are standard vehicles without any modifications, but the type of Matatu that most comes to mind for Kenyans is the highly customized and ornately painted minibuses seen in the following video. There is an extensive use of electronics for entertainment and lighting. Loud sound systems are ubiquitous. There could be videos displayed on flat-screen TV monitors both inside as well as from the outside rear. At night, alternating or flashing neon lighting that covers the length of buses can be seen on Matatus plying the streets of Nairobi . In many parts of Africa, using cell phones to pay for products and services (as opposed to debit cards) is quite common. Some buses are now accepting payment via mobile phones.

September 7, 2012

NEWS: 4 Disabled Arrested During Occupy Gracie Mansion Protest

NEW YORK - The following video was from an August 08, 2012 Occupy Wall Street protest that took place outside Gracie Mansion, the official residence of the Mayor of New York City. A total of 8 people were arrested during the protest, including 4 that used scooters or wheelchairs. They are shown in the video being loaded into MTA Access-A-Ride buses by the NYPD. The non-violent protest, organized by the Disability Caucus of Occupy Wall Street raised questions and awareness concerning a number of disability rights issues in the city including the ongoing debate and legal battle over accessible taxis that Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Taxi of Tomorrow initiative was supposed to address. To find out more read: Occupy Gracie Mansion with the #OWS Disability Caucus.

September 6, 2012

Non-Profit Spotlight: LIFE ElderCare VIP Rides Volunteer Driver Program

CALIFORNIA - LIFE ElderCare is a non-profit organization based in Fremont, California that has been providing community services for local seniors since 1975. Their service area includes Fremont, Newark, and Union City, California. They provide services such as Meals On Wheels, Friendly Visitors, Fall Prevention, and VIP Rides.  The VIP Rides Program involves volunteer drivers providing transport and escort assistance for seniors to get to medical appointments and essential errands. LIFE ElderCare currently provides between 150-175 trips per month.

September 5, 2012

NEWS: Dallas Crash Victim Suing DART Driver and Employer, Veolia

DALLAS - September 04, 2012 - Three months after having his car re-ended by a DART Paratransit bus, the Dallas man injured in the crash has launched a lawsuit against both the bus driver and his employer, Veolia Transportation for unspecified damages. Read my earlier posts: DART Paratransit Driver Causes 5 Car Freeway Pile-Up and Dallas Man Still Recovering from DART Paratransit Crash to learn more about the crash and the victim's struggle to recover.

September 2, 2012

Community Transport Haringey

UNITED KINGDOM - Community Transport Haringey is a part of the HCT Group, a UK social enterprise that specializes in passenger transportation services. Based out of the Selby Centre, they are supported by Haringey Council. Community Transport Haringey provides minibus hire, a wheelchair-accessible car hire, minibus driver training, and a dial-a-ride service. To fund these community services, through their affiliation with HCT they reinvest revenue earned by performing commercial services such as London's red bus routes back into supporting the previously unmet social transport needs in the London Borough of Haringey. To learn more, read my series on posts on HCT Group.

September 1, 2012

NEWS: Alert Oklahoma City METRO Lift Driver Narrowly Avoids Crash

OKLAHOMA - Video surveillance footage earlier this year from what is probably a METRO Lift paratransit bus. The onboard camera shows the driver stopping well back of the line of cars waiting at a red light at the intersection of 59 Street and Penn Avenue in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma as the sound of approaching sirens can be heard. When the lights change, and vehicles begin making left hand turns in advance of the green, the oncoming car being pursued by police enters the intersection at high speed, hitting both a truck attempting to turn and the van in front of the METRO Lift bus. All three come to a halt just in front of the bus, as the four suspects from the car flee on foot, prompting one of the METRO Lift passengers to speak out to others on the bus that he recognizes them. No one on the bus was injured in the crash. Soon after, three of the four suspects were apprehended.

August 30, 2012

NEMT: Amera Medical Transportation

TEXAS - Amera Medical Transportation (AMT) is a Texas based non-emergency medical transportation company. From it's start-up in Houston in 2004, AMT has since opened an office in Dallas with further plans to expand into San Antonio and Oklahoma. They have a diverse fleet of vehicles including midsize sedans, luxury sedans, wheelchair vans, and shuttle buses. They specialize in door-to-door service to medical appointments. AMT also provides delivery services for medical equipment and documents. They are partnered with Southwest Regional EMS.

August 27, 2012

Transportation Leaders: Dai Powell, CEO of HCT Group

LEADERS - Dai Powell is the CEO of HCT Group, a large and growing UK social enterprise specializing in community transport. As a social enterprise, HCT Group takes the profit it earns from commercial contracts with the public sector and invests it back into socially necessary passenger transport and training. It operates in multiple locations in the UK and employes hundreds of people. Since becoming CEO of HCT Group in 1993, Dia Powell has taken the organization from a small local community transport that depended on charitable donations and unstable local council funding, to an award-winning and recognized leader in the third sector of the economy while remaining committed to their core work of providing wheelchair accessible community transport. He is a board member of the Big Society Capital and Social Enertprise UK, Chair of the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee, and is former Chair of both the Community Transport Association and Social Enterprise Mark. He was awarded an OBE in 2006 for services to disabled people. An outspoken and enthusiastic promoter of social enterprise, Powell's success with HCT has led to many speaking engagements such as the All Change! New Horizons for Local Government Conference shown in the videos below. As a youth he struggled with stammering. Getting involved in an organization that he believed in and working with others who shared his passion proved key to overcoming his stammer. That experience has given him a greater apprecation for the importance of inclusion in the work place and society. When asked about how he feels about public speaking, he says: "I love it now as a challenge because people are waiting for me to speak, not waiting for me to stammer".

August 26, 2012

Social Enterprise: CT Plus / Bristol Community Transport

UNITED KINGDOM - Bristol Community Transport (BCT) is a non-profit organization that provides a variety of transportation services in Bristol, UK. As part of the HCT Group, a social enterprise, BCT provides contracted commercial transit Park and Ride services on behalf of Bristol City Council through HCT's CT Plus. Surplass revenue from CT Plus is then re-invested back into BCT to support door-to-door wheelchair accessible community transport and other needed services in Bristol such as shown in the following video. For more information read my earlier posts on Bristol Community Transport and HCT Group.

August 25, 2012

Non-Profit Spotlight: HCT Group's Experience with Service Transfer

UNITED KINGDOM - The Big Society was a policy put forth by the David Cameron Conservatives during the 2010 UK General Election from which a Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition government was formed. The Big Society became part of the formal agreement between the two parties to share power. The Big Society is about the devolving of powers away from central government to local government. It means local government will have to take on new roles and form new partnerships with business and the community to deliver public services. It will mean more people volunteering. It will mean more communities and neighborhoods doing more for themselves. And it will mean a growth in the third sector of the economy: charities, co-operative, mutual societies, and social enterprises will be instrumental in the transfer of services from the central government to the local and into the community.

The Big Society is not a new idea. Government decentralizing in the UK has been going on since the 1980's when Margaret Thatcher was in power. It was during this period that Hackney Community Transport (HCT) began to experience a noticible decline and instability of funding from the local government council they were contracted to provide wheelchair accessible community transportation services for. Rather than continue to be reliant on government or the proceeds from chaitable donations, HCT chose the path of social enterprise. They would operate as a business by providing public transportation services that the government was divesting itself of, but unlike a for-profit company, it would re-invest the surplass money back into their core community work.

The following 3-part video features Dia Powell, CEO of HCT Group in conversation with Tom Archer of Fiery Spirits discussing HTC's experience over the last 2 decades with service transfer. Service transfer involves the effective and orderly transfer of public services from local authorities to innovative new partnerships with the third sector. As a social enterprise, HCT has been at the forefront of service transfer and knows well the challenges and potential of the transfer of services. For example, one of the biggest concerns involves transfer of employees from the public to the third sector, and in particular: pensions. Dai Powell shares their experience with TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings and Protection of Employment Regulations), the UK's labour law that deals with all aspects of this including pensions. On the whole, Powell has found that the transfered employees find new freedom and empowerment within the culture of a social enterprise.

Another example concerns a government contract that HCT had entered into with a local council. Part way through the length of the contract, an opportunity presented itself that would mean large cost savings in the provision of the service. Rather than keep the profits for themselves, HTC re-negotiated the contract which represented a cost savings for the local governing authority and allowed HTC to hire more staff to further improve and personalize service. You can do that, says Powell because both the public sector and social enterprise share the same "ethos, the same values."

To learn more see: Social Enterprises - A Guide for Voluntary and Community Sector Groups on How to Set Up a Social Enterprise to Run Public Services (48 page pdf), The Clock is Ticking on Cameron's Big Society by Dai Powell, and my earlier blog post on HCT Group.

August 24, 2012

Non-Profit Spotlight: Senior Service Volunteer Transportation Program

WASHINGTON STATE - Over 3000 seniors in King County, Washington use the Senior Services Transportation Program of Senior Service, a Seattle based non-profit agency that serves the needs of older adults and their loved ones in Washington State.  Seniors such as the 98 year old featured in the following video depend on the Senior Services' Volunteer Transportation Program to remain living independently in the community. Established in 1975, the Volunteer Transportation Program today has over 600 volunteer drivers who use their own vehicles to drive seniors 60+ to medical care, treatments, and other essential appointments for free. The Volunteer Transportation Program recieves funding support through the Senior Citizens Services Act (SCSA). Passed by the Washington State Legislature in 1976, the Act commits state monies to provide a range of community-based programs for older citizens. Current fiscal pressures led the State to ahead with the proposed reduction in funding mentioned in the video and in the following articles: One Missed Doctor Appointment Away from Insecurity and Senior Citizens Services Act Cuts: Don't Break Our Promise to Older Washingtonians (pdf). To learn more, read my earlier post: King County Mobility Coalition.

August 22, 2012

NEMT Profile: Kris' Transportation

NORTH CAROLINA - Kris' Transportation Services is non-emergency medical transportation company based in Rocky Point, North Carolina. They provide wheelchair accessible transport to the disabled, elderly, and disadvantaged for medical appointments, social outings, religious services, etc.

August 21, 2012

Non-Profit Spotlight: CamGlen Community Transport

SCOTLAND - CamGlen Community Transport is non-profit organization based in South Lanarkshire, Scotland. It is part of the the Rural Development Trust and is supported by the South Lanarkshire Council.  CamGlen Community Transport provides to the local community the kind of affordable transport services that conventional bus and train services are not providing for the area.

August 20, 2012

Non-Profit Spotlight: Le Transport de Clare / C.O.R.D. "Snack Attack"

NOVA SCOTIA - Le Transport de Clare was launched in 1996 by C.O.R.D. as Nova Scotia's first community based transportation program. It provides affordable transport to the persons with disabilities, seniors, and the disadvantaged. Le Transport de Clare is financially supported in-part by "Snack Attack", a social enterprise run by C.O.R.D. The Snack Attack program supplies snacks to local businesses in the Clare area. The social venture employs people with disabilities and products are delivered with assistance of Le Transport de Clare.

NEMT Business Idea #5: Generating Additional Income from Advertising

Care-a-Van is non-profit wheelchair accessible non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) provider serving West Michigan that has integrated advertising into their service. Care-a-Van offers to local companies a unique advertizing opportunity they call the Featured Partners Program. The program gives area businesses that provide complimentary healthcare services and products a chance to advertise directly to their target market through Care-a-Van. This involves providing customers with brochures, coupons, and other special promotional offers. All customers are presented with these materials when the Care-a-Van drivers arrive to pick them up. A bonus packet with additional benefits and information is provided for all Plus One members, Care-a-Van's frequent user discount program.  Program partners are also featured prominently on the Care-a-Van website. All profits from the Featured Partners Program are directed to driver training at Care-a-Van.

While this program is well suited to their unique situation as a non-profit organization, it could also be expanded and applied to for-profit enterprises. For example, advertizers could be featured in newsletters, recorded phone messages if put on hold, and on-board ads, both in and outside of vehicles.  As with any advertising, care and discretion has to be used. When does it become too much? Is it appropriate? Does the income generated make it worth the trouble? Your website and company vehicles are your place to tell the world what you do, so any additional information: paid ads or even graphics showing support for a worthy charitable cause, shouldn't distract or confuse viewers. As well, offering (for example) local home healthcare service and product businesses the opportunity to direct market to your clients through your NEMT company might be accepted at first by customers, but too much might turn people off.

As a business owner or entrepreneur considering a NEMT start-up, seeing your company through the eyes of a potential advertiser forces you to examine elements of your venture that you may not have realized as having a monetary value. For example, if you have identified a spot inside your ambulette as a good place to display an on-board ad, wouldn't it also be a good place to post notices for customers to remind or inform them about some aspect of your service?  In other words, that space (if utilized) is worth something to the business, just as it is to the potential advertiser; even if income isn't generated. The same can be said of other parts of the operation. Instead of handing new customers a packet of coupons, drivers can provide clients with your company's brochure and business card. Or on your website, instead of ads, you can include an eye catching graphic that showcases some unique part of your NEMT company: employee of the month or show off your new ambulette. You could even link all these together, as in an ad campaign: for example, if you have branched out and started a courier service, then let everybody know and include it consistently throughout all aspects of your operation.