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Tompkins County getting federal help with mobility project

By Charles McChesney


ITHACA, N.Y. — Tompkins County is among six communities in the U.S. that will get federal help developing new ways of getting around.

The Shared Use Mobility Center (SUMC) in Chicago, Illinois, said in a release that Tompkins County will receive a year of free technical assistance to develop mobility-on-demand pilot projects through SUMC’s Mobility on Demand On-Ramp program.

With help from the Federal Transit Administration, the On-Ramp program provides transit agencies with expert assistance to build public-private partnerships for mobility projects.

Tompkins County’s project is Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS), which is an approach to selling mobility services to customers and one that also helps customers get home if their regular travel plans are interrupted.

“Mobility-as-a-Service is innovative because it focuses on creating a new level of customer service for people using public transit, taxis, paratransit, rideshare, volunteer transportation, and other mobility services,” Dwight Mengel, chief transportation planner with the Tompkins County Department of Social Services, said in the release. “We will help people learn about mobility services, and there will be an option to pay for mobility services with a single monthly payment. Also, similar to auto clubs that provide roadside assistance, we will help people get home when there is an unexpected personal emergency or when their travel is interrupted. MaaS will improve collaboration and use of our community mobility services, and our ability to partner with local businesses and neighboring counties.”

Tompkins County is the smallest and most rural of the six awardees, per the release. The others chosen include public transit systems in Baltimore, Maryland; Indianapolis, Indiana; Memphis, Tennessee; and San Francisco, California. The other winner was the transportation authority in Austin, Texas, which will examine the use of shared, electric, and autonomous vehicles to connect to high frequency/high capacity transit service and to provide transportation for riders with disabilities.

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