November 26, 2012

Calif. senior transportation program goes national

Riverside, Calif.-based Independent Living Partnership’s (ILP) TripTrak subscription service, designed to facilitate complete administration and management of special needs senior transportation model programs, is now available nationally.

“The TripTrak application was created over a thirteen-year period,” Richard Smith, executive director, ILP, said. “TripTrak was designed to assist TRIP in Riverside simplify the administration of the 1.3 million volunteer trips that we have provided for the county’s transit dependent, but underserved or unserved, residents.”

He added that the new private cloud service evolved as a long-tested method for effectively running a TRIP service. When TRIP services began it relied on “off the shelf” word processing and spreadsheet software, like many volunteer driver programs.

“As applications for service and enrollments increased, managing the data and generating detailed reports quickly became very difficult,” Smith said. “We needed accurate and complete data for government reports, to establish comparative performance data that would accurately characterize TRIP efficiencies, and to provide detailed support for our grant proposals. We decided a software application specifically designed for the task would be very helpful.”

TripTrak was originally designed exclusively for the purpose of assisting with the administration of the TRIP Program in Riverside County, Calif., but eventually other organizations that were also operating TRIP model services, began asking for the software. Smith said, “We began making client and network versions of the software available about two years ago but it became clear that management of the robust database required a technical skill set that was not found in many organizations and agencies.”

The ILP response was to convert the application for private cloud deployment.

“Cloud applications are low in cost and are very easy to use,” Smith said. “The end-user doesn’t have to know anything about the underlying technology. The TripTrak cloud service is responsible for IT assets and maintenance and updates and enhancements are free and automatic.”

TripTrak also connects authorized users online no matter where they are, even at off-site meetings or at home.

The TRIP model is a rider-directed, mileage reimbursement volunteer driver service that was created by ILP in 1993 using a marketing approach. The Regional Planning Organization for the area and the Office on Aging asked older adults what they wanted in a transportation service and then designed the program based on their preferences. Informants said they wanted personal vehicles to be used; the service to be free and available 24 hours a day every day; to be able to travel between cities without transfer or inconvenience; and did not want to have schedule rides in advance. Volunteer escort-drivers make each trip with their rider, assisting them as necessary and required, and receive mileage reimbursements to help pay for gas.

Unlike other volunteer driver programs across the U.S., TRIP assists riders to recruit their own volunteer drivers, and asks riders and their volunteers to schedule needed trips as mutually convenient. Smith said that shifting organizational volunteer recruitment and ride scheduling to the end-user saves money and improves service convenience. Each month the TRIP Program provides almost 9,000 one-way trips for more than 600 low-income older adults and persons with disabilities across Riverside County.

Many other organizations and agencies across the U.S. are starting or are already operating services that are based on the TRIP model. The TripTrak application is intended to facilitate and support easy adoption and operation of similar services everywhere.

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