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.