The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) announced a partnership with a local nonprofit to provide travel training for seniors and persons with disabilities.
The travel training program, in cooperation with Somerville-based non-profit Door2Door Transportation, will be the first in a series of mobility management services organized under a consortium dubbed Ways2Go and funded with federal grant funds.
“I strongly believe there are many T customers in waiting,” said MBTA GM Dr. Beverly Scott. “All we need to do to is demonstrate how easy it is to use our system of subway trains and buses. A lot of people do not know that the T is so accessible and quite easy to use once you get the hang of it.”
In January of 2013, the MBTA’s Department of System Wide Accessibility introduced System Orientation Training, an introductory seminar for persons with disabilities interested in making use of the T’s vast array of accessible fixed route buses and subway lines. Participants in System Orientation get an overview of trip planning and hands on practice using maps, schedules and boarding buses. They also get a tour of subway and bus facilities and learn about the safety features available in stations and on vehicles. By all accounts, the program has filled a much needed information gap, according to transit officials.
At the same time, Door2Door’s Ways2Go program has been developing more detailed curricula to meet the needs of those who require more intensive assistance in order to master fixed route travel. With the new partnership, Ways2Go travel training will be available to anyone who would like additional instruction after completing system orientation training.
Travel training programs across the country are helping individuals with more complex physical and cognitive challenges become independent travelers, able to plan their own trips on fixed route rather than depending solely on paratransit services.