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.

August 19, 2012

NEWS: Dallas Man Still Recovering from DART Paratransit Crash

DALLAS - July 31, 2012 - Over a month after having his car re-ended by a DART Paratransit Bus, the Dallas man injured in the crash is still recovering. See my earlier post: DART Paratransit Driver Causes 5 Car Freeway Pile-Up to learn more. The bus driver has since been fired by DART.

Non-Profit Spotlight: Kerry Community Transport

IRELAND - Kerry Community Transport (KCT) is a non-profit organization that provides transportation services throughout County Kerry, Ireland. It is part of Ireland's Rural Transport Network. KCT contracts with private bus operators to provide it's services. Over half of the fleet is wheelchair accessible. The following RTE news report shares some of the bus users reaction to recent proposed fiscal austerity measures in Ireland that would greatly effect rural community transport provider organizations such as KCT.

August 18, 2012

Non-Profit Spotlight: Flexibus

IRELAND - Flexibus is a government funded non-profit Community Transport service operating in County Meath, Ireland. It is part of Ireland's Rural Transport Network. Services can be used by anyone. All their buses are wheelchair accessible. They provide a wide range of routes throughout the county. All 'timetabled' routes offer door-to-door service upon request. Flexibus also provides certified driver and passenger assistant training in conjunction with the MiDAS program. The following video emphasizes the social benefits of Flexibus; the interaction and connectedness of riders with each other, drivers, and the greater community that it fosters is valued as much as the utilitarian aspect of getting people simply from Point A to Point B.

August 17, 2012

Non-Profit Spotlight: Rural Development Trust Community Bus

SCOTLAND - The Rural Development Trust (RDT) is a non-profit organization that provides Community Transport and Rural Development services and programs in rural areas of South Lanarkshire, Scotland. They are also involved with renewable energy initiatives, such as the South Lanarkshire Council Biodiesel Project (featured in the video) in which waste cooking oil from local schools is collected by RDT, processed, and then re-used to fuel their buses. To learn more read: It's Win Win for Community Transport Biodiesel Project.

August 15, 2012

Non-Profit Spotlight: Badenoch and Strathspey Community Transport

SCOTLAND - The Badenoch and Strathspey Community Transport Company (BSCTC) is a non-profit organization based in Aviemore, UK. They offer a number of transportation related programs and services such as the wheelchair accessible 'Where 2 Today' vehicle (shown in the 1st video), a car share-share scheme, scooter/wheelchair loan program, and weekly door-to-door shopping excursion. BSCTC provides it's volunteer drivers with a fully certified training program. The second video features members of BSCTC networking with other Community Transport organizations during a project visit sponsored by the Scottish National Rural Network.

August 14, 2012

NEWS: Decade of Improvement for DC Special Needs School Bus Service

WASHINGTON DC - August 13, 2012 - 10 years of improvement in the transport of special needs students was celebrated by District of Columbia Public Schools by honoring the veteran drivers who have helped make it possible. Over a decade ago, a lawsuit was filed that forced the School District to improve service for it's over 3000 special needs children. Today, buses are arriving on schedule 94% of the time thanks to the work of staff and management, and investment put into upgrading the bus fleet. For more information read: DC Expects End to School Bus Supervision.

View more videos at:

August 12, 2012

Company Profile: MV Transportation

PARATRANSIT - MV Transportation is a privately held corporation based in Dallas, Texas. Founded in 1975 as California MediVan, it has since grown to become the largest private passenger transport company in America, with 16,000 employees working in markets across 28 U.S. States, 2 Canadian Provinces, and in Saudi Arabia. MV Transportation provides fixed route, paratransit, shuttle, and multimodal transportation services. In the following video, representatives from both MV and SamTrans share how they worked together to find the best way to improve the SamTrans paratransit service: Redi-Wheels. Under the leadership of current CEO, R. Carter Pate (2nd video); the company has continued to expand and explore new market opportunities such as the recent acquisition of TMS Global Games Group, which helped design and plan the transport system for London 2012.


Green Bay Paratransit Users Frustrated with MV Transportation
MV Transportation Working to Improve Green Bay Paratransit
Budget Cuts Hit Hampton Roads, Virginia Paratransit Services
DC MetroAccess Drivers Pressured to Work Long Hours

Non-Profit Spotlight: Senior Center of Jackson Hole

WYOMING - Senior Center of Jackson Hole is a private non-profit organization in Jackson, Wyoming. It provides a variety of services that help local seniors live safe, healthy, independent lives. This includes a wheelchair accessible door-to-door demand-response bus service for seniors. It operates weekdays with runs to the center for lunch and activities. It is also available for local trips to medical appointments, shopping, and other errands. It is a free service available only through the Senior Center of Jackson Hole.

August 11, 2012

Non-Profit Spotlight: The Big Lemon

UNITED KINGDOM - Founded in 2007, The Big Lemon is a Community Interest Company (CIC) based in Brighton, UK. They operate a fleet of buses that run on recycled cooking oil which they collect themselves from local restraunts. The waste oil is collected free of charge and then put through a recycling process that produces a biodiesel that emits 75% less CO2 than regular mineral diesel. As a CIC, The Big Lemon operates a variety of contracted transportation services such as bus and coach hire, festival coaches, and public bus services. Profits are reinvested into the company to ensure the bus service remains fun, friendly, affordable, sustainable, and environmentally and socially responsible. For a detailed overview of how The Big Lemon was started and how it has been set up to operate, read the 31 page study: Community-Led Transport Initiatives (pdf).

August 10, 2012

August 9, 2012

NEWS: DART Paratransit Bus Hijacked by Passenger

DALLAS - August 9, 2012 - A Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) paratransit bus was hijacked today by one of the riders. The passenger became upset set when the driver told her they had more stops to make before they would reach her destination. She said this would make her late for her medical appointment. She then phoned DART and even 911 to complain. A supervisor then met with the bus. When the paratransit driver was out of the bus talking to the supervisor, the passenger then got out of her wheelchair and drove off with the bus, with 4 other passengers yet onboard. For the next 20 minutes  she drove erratically through Dallas, all the while still on the phone with DART customer service. She was eventually pulled over and taken into custody by the police for kidnapping and theft. The other passengers were upset, but not hurt. Read: Impatient Passenger Hijacks DART Van (Fox-4) for more information.
Dallas News |

August 8, 2012

Non-Profit Spotlight: Care-a-Van Transportation Service

MICHIGAN - Care-a-Van Transportation Service is non-profit subsidiary of Coloma Emergency Ambulance, Inc. of Coloma, Michigan. Also known as CEMS Medical Transport, they were established in 1967 as a not-for-profit provider of emergency medical transport services. Care-a-Van was formed over a decade ago to provide door-to-door wheelchair accessible non-emergency medical transportation. They provide over 20,000 trips in West Michigan each year. Their service area includes Allegan, Kalamazoo, Van Buren, Cass, and Berrien Counties. Care-a-Van features two unique programs. The first is the Plus One Membership: a yearly fee of $20 entitles members to a 20% rate discount on transports, priority scheduling, and other benefits including additional discounts from their Featured Partners service. In this program, Care-a-Van provides their customers with a packet of promtional materials from participating companies, such as local home health care service and equipment companies. As well, partner company ads, logo, and forwarding links are featured on the Care-a-Van website.

August 7, 2012

Profile: AmeriCare Alliance

HOME HEALTHCARE TRANSPORTATION - AmeriCare Alliance is a nationally franchised non-medical home health care company with locations across the United States. Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA) and Home Health Aids (HHA) provide personal care, respite cate, maternity assistance, accompany and assist at events, and incidental transportation. AmeriCare Alliance referred caregivers will take clients to such things as medical appointments, shopping, special events, visiting friends and family, as well a running errands. All caregivers have been screened through the DMV for clear driving records.

August 6, 2012

Non-Profit: Green Dragon Bus

UNITED KINGDOM - The Preseli Rural Transport Association is non-profit organization that provides local community transportation throughout South West Wales. It operates regular fixed routes that will deviate (if booked in advance) up to a mile for door-to-door pick-ups and drop-offs. Some of the Green Dragon buses, as they are affectionately known are wheelchair accessible. Some also are fuelled by vegetable oil. As shown in the video, Green Dragon Bus plays an important role in the tourism of the region, providing travellers and residents alike, an affordable connection to some of the most scenic, but isolated parts of the Bristish Isles.

August 5, 2012

How HCT Operates as a Social Enterprise

UNITED KINGDOM - The following video features Dai Powell, CEO of HCT Group; a organization begun 20 years ago to provide local Community Transport that has become one of the leaders of the Social Entrepreneurship movement in the United Kingdom. As Dai Powell says in the film, the purpose of Social Enterprise "is to change the world". "The difference between Social Enterprise and charity is: it's using business skills, it's understanding risk, it's about making a profit; and the difference between a Social Enterprise and business is what you do with the profit." HCT takes the profits from it's contractural work and invests it into the social side of their organization. To create revenue, it has contracted to operate a number of London's red bus routes and even has been chosen to provide transport within the Olympic Park for the 2012 London Games. Profits from these and other initiatives go to support the social side of HTC, such as the wheelchair accessible Dial-A-Ride service that it has been operating since 1982 in the London Borough of Hackney. In recent years, the original Hackney Community Transport has grown and merged with other like minded Community Transport providers in the UK to become the HCT Group. Because it has been so successful, and grown so quickly; it is considered to be at the forefront of modern Social Entrepreneurship, not only in Britain; but as a model for all and any non-profit organization that wants to provide effective and sustainable accessible community transportation services. Go here to see the full interview with Dai Powell.

Other Social Entrepreneurs featured in the film produced by the Coutts Social Enterprise Advisory Service are: Rod Schwartz, CEO of ClearlySo; Dave Miller, Co-Director of Bikeworks; and Jamie Feildon, founder and CEO of Jamie's Farm. To learn more about Dai Powell and the HCT Group, read my post - Non-Profit Spotlight: HCT Group.

Paratransit Providers: Para Transpo

ONTARIO - OC Transpo is the public transit service for Canada's capital city of Ottawa, Ontario. OC Transpo has taken several initiatives in recent years to increase accessibility within their transit system. This includes Para Transpo, a door-to-door transportation service for persons with disabilities who are unable to use regular transit, and a Taxi Coupon Program that allows registered Para Transpo users to take accessible cabs at a discounted rate as an alternative to the regular paratransit service. Find other Canadian Paratransit Services.

Non-Profit Spotlight: Bristol Community Transportation

UNITED KINGDOM - Bristol Community Transport (BCT) is a non-profit organization that provides a variety of transportation services in Bristol, UK. They have a fleet of 33 vehicles that are available for use by over 600 not-for-profit groups in the Bristol area. BCT was formed as a charity in 1985 to provide cost-effective transport for such local organizations. Today it operates as a social enterprise through it's associate company, BCT Community Interest Company. BCT CIC provides revenue services and turns those profits back into supporting the core work of Community Transportation. As part of this, they operate the Bristol Car Club, a wheelchair accessible car rental service as well as the MiDAS Minibus Driver and Passenger Assistant Training Centre for Bristol, just as other members of the HCT Group provide training in other parts of the UK.

August 4, 2012

Non-Profit Spotlight: Manchester Community Health Center

NEW HAMPSHIRE - Manchester Community Health Center is a non-profit primary health clinic serving Manchester, New Hampshire. They serve a diverse population through a wide range of services inluding transportation for clients to and from the center. The Greater Manchester  Community Needs Assessmnet 2009 (page 83) identified inadequate transportation as a barrier to accessing healthcare for the elderly and disabled in the community.

Profile: ACE Medical Transportation

CALIFORNIA - ACE Medical Transportation is a non-emergency medical transportation company based in Ontario, California. It is family-owned and operated business the providing assisted ambulatory, gurney, and wheelchair accessible door-through-door services throughout the Inland Empire of Southern California including the communities of Ontario, Riverside, Corona, Pomona, and San Bernardino.

August 3, 2012

Non-Profit Spotlight: North Central Montana Transit

MONTANA - North Central Montana Transit (NCMT) is a non-profit transport system that links isolated rural communities in north-central Montana with each other and to the closest urban center, Great Falls. Since starting operations in 2009, NCMT has exceeded expectations of demand and utilization. It operates three daily fixed route shuttle routes throughout the region, as well as a twice weekly service to Great Falls. In total, the 4-line bus system travels an estimated 179,291 miles per year. NCMT is one part of a larger regional transportation strategy initiative of Opportunity Link, a not-for-profit foundation that supports the community needs of north-central Montana.

VIDEO: We Ride the Line - Connections

Provider Profile: Ruskin Private Hire

UNITED KINGDOM - Ruskin Private Hire is an award-winning and innovative specialized transportation company based in London, England. The company was founded in 1997 by Roger Lynch, a former sprinter that had experienced a debilitating injury 2 years before. Their services include: private hire vehicle and driver service, wheelchair accessible transport for the diabled and those with special needs, executive car service, and courier services. Ruskin Private Hire places a strong emphasis upon corporate responsbility and sustainability. As part of this, Roger Lynch established Robust Training, a learning organization that trains people from the local community to work in the paasenger transportation industry. The centre piece of this innitiative is 'Robustraina' and 'Activtrainia', two luxury coaches that have been turned into state-of-the-art mobile training facilities.

August 2, 2012

Non-Profit Spotlight: HCT Group

UNITED KINGDOM - HCT Group began in 1982 as Hackney Community Transport (HCT), providing low-cost minibus transport for community groups and a door-to-door bus service for people with disabilities in the London Borough of Hackney. For the next decade HCT was able to continue offering these services in much the same way, but when government grants were cut back, they found themselves at a crossroads. Rather than continue with the same model of organization based upon charitable contributions and declining govenment support, HCT struck out on a new path based on the social enterprise business model. Beginning in 1993, HCT began to compete in the marketplace, operating much like a business: competing for contracts, seeking out new markets, growing, and meeting change with innovation; but all the while reinvesting back into the organization and to the community to support and expand it's core work. Today they safely provide over 12 million passenger trips annally. They provide a wide variety of services throughout London and Yorkshire. And they have expanded and merged with other liked minded Community Transport organizations, such as Islington Community Transport, LaSCoT, and Leeds Alternate Travel to become the HCT Group.

VIDEO: Coutts Social Enterprise: The Time is Now - Dai Powell

How HCT Group Operates as a Social Enterprise
HCT Group's Experience with Service Transfer
Dai Powell, CEO of HCT Group
Community Transport Haringey
Bristol Community Transportation
CT Plus / Bristol Community Transport
HCT Group Mentoring Social Entrepreneurs through 'On Purpose'
Bristol Community Transport MiDAS and PATS Training
HCT Social Enterprise Champions
Putting Social Justice and Social Change at the Heart of Business