Positivity During This Pandemic: The Arc Mercer Takes the Wheel on Accessible Transportation
This past January, the New Jersey Senate Select Committee held a bipartisan hearing for over 15 providers and advocates for the Intellectual or Developmentally Disabled (I/DD) community to discuss the need for greater accessibility of transportation. Steve Cook, Executive Director, had the opportunity to testify at the hearing, representing The Arc Mercer.
At this hearing, he presented solutions that The Arc Mercer has already implemented over the last 5 years through their Total Agency Transportation initiative. These include a development of a transportation mobile application specifically geared toward members of the I/DD community and their caretakers, the transformation of Agency culture to view all staff as potential drivers, and innovative training to ensure the safety and comfort of passengers. These innovations have yielded a reduction in transportation time (from 90 minutes on average to 30 minutes on average), a cut in per-passenger cost by fifty percent, and a reduction in overall accidents ... all of which increase the quality of life for the consumers we serve.
After this hearing, Steve, along with the Total Agency Transportation team, gave numerous presentations to stake-holding providers throughout the state which included The Arc of Monmouth and Access Link NJ, to name a few. It was our hope that in presenting our ideas and innovations to other agencies, we could not only gain support, but also educate in the process.
Because of the COVOID-19 pandemic, we thought that the conversation between Arc Mercer and the Senate would be put on pause until further notice. However, on Friday, May 8th, Steve was asked to present directly to interested Senators via teleconference.
At the end of the presentation, the Senate offered us the opportunity to finalize our project and then piloted through new comprehensive legislation.
We are excited to share this story. Our team has worked hard on this project and it is a fantastic feeling that we can make a difference– especially in a time such as this. Though we are in the throes of COVID, we are still consistently moving forward in ways that we had not expected. We are humbled to be able to continue to serve the I/DD community.