Earlier this month, at a conference in Corning, a new structured, organization was formed: the New York Association for Mobility Management.
The new organization aims to provide a strong voice for mobility managers and other transportation professionals in the state. It will provide networking opportunities within the profession, professional development resources and a voice at the state level to help mobility professionals identify additional streams of funding outside of the federal 5311 grant upon which they currently rely for funding.
Why is this important? Because it will allow mobility managers to learn and grow from one another, transferring initiatives that work in one community, to another community. The association may also in the future develop a certification system, ensuring mobility managers adhere to a set of standards.
According to Dwight Mengel, Secretary, NYSAMM will enable members to collaborate on projects, solve problems, share best practices, and provide a unified voice for addressing community transportation issues at the state level.
The founding members include Seven Valleys Health Coalition Executive Director Jackie Leaf and Seven Valleys Health Coalition Mobility Management Coordinator Catherine Wilde, in addition to the following:
* Amber Simmons, Project Manager for Move Together NY/Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins Co.- who is now the president of the group- and:
*Belinda Hoad, Associate Director, Institute for Human Services- elected VP
*Bill Wagner, Getthere Director, Rural Health Network South Central NY- elected 2nd VP
* Carrie Whitwood, Executive Director, Ardent Solutions
*Denise Bentley Consultant Denise Bentley Consulting
* Dwight Mengel, Chief Transportation Planner, Tompkins County- elected Secretary
* Frank Doldo, Mobility Manager, St. Lawrence County
* John Reel, a concerned citizen- elected Treasurer
* Megan Pulver, Transit Project Manager, TCAT
* Michaela Murphy,Way2Go Services Coordinator, The Parkway Center
* Nick Cecconi, Assistant Director, Getthere
* Scot Vanderpool, General Manager, TCAT
* Tina Walden, Mobility Manager, Institute for Human Services
The association formed after a day and a half brainstorming session among the group, in which the organization's values, mission and structure were hashed out. However, it was the culmination of much more time than that, noted President Amber Simmons, years of working in the field without any umbrella organization upon which to look to for support.
“This workshop has been the culmination of 10+ years of working at the grassroots level and our intention is to continue our collaborative culture. Our little band of the willing identified the need for a unified voice to tackle unmet transportation needs of New Yorkers," she said.
The mobility management profession and job description can vary from one community to another, depending on the needs of the area it serves, however we all have one thing in common: We serve our community and try to create equitable and sustainable transportation solutions for our clients.
In Cortland, mobility management looks something like this. On any given day I may have a caller who needs to know how to get from downtown Cortland to one of the local shopping plazas. I will help them figure out which bus to flag down and at what time, and what transfers may be needed. Or I may get an inquiry about out of county travel, like how to get to the Syracuse airport. Or I may connect Medicaid clients to rides through a program known as Supports For Health, which provides a limited number of emergency travel vouchers for situations that fall outside of the realm of what Medicaid covers.
Then there are the local bus advertisements that have to be renewed, re-ordered, approved by the county and put on the buses.
Mobility management won't look the same for Frank Doldo in St. Lawrence County, a county about four times the size and double the population, but our end goal is the same: How do help people find the easiest, most efficient route to get from point A to point B, regardless of socioeconomic status, age, disability, etc.
The newly formed organization will help us work together to continue finding creative ways to address all these needs.