OLYMPIA – Announced just in time for Veterans Day, Washington’s military veterans will be among the first in the country to benefit from on-demand transportation options and upgrades funded by a new federal grant program. The grants aim to meet the transportation needs of veterans with disabilities and those who live where options are limited.
The Federal Transit Administration today announced the Washington State Department of Transportation will receive three grants totaling more than $737,000 to be distributed to selected veterans transportation projects.
The three grants administered by WSDOT, along with a fourth grant awarded to Pierce County, totaled nearly $1 million to improve affordable, accessible transportation options for veterans in Washington. They were among 55 projects around the country and in Guam chosen to receive $35 million in total grant funding.
Projects such as Hopelink’s One Stop Access in King County will provide convenient on-call service for veterans with a new smart phone application, as well as a one-call/one-click website to connect military families and wounded veterans to community transportation providers.
The grants are of the product of the Veterans Transportation and Community Living Initiative, which aims to fill the transportation gaps for rural communities where many vets live. The projects will build on existing technology to integrate services and information, making it easier for veterans to access health care and other vital services through one-click/one-call centers.
“Access to transportation systems and services is important in all our lives, but perhaps more so for veterans with disabilities or who live in more rural areas,” said state Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond. “I’m pleased that these grant applications from Washington state were selected to receive a portion of these federal dollars and that it will result in improved service for veterans.”
WSDOT will administer three grants, including:
· $168,000 for Hopelink One Stop Access in King County with a new smart phone app and one-click website to connect veterans to community transportation providers.
· $130,315 for the Human Services Council Veterans Transportation Technology Improvement Project, a one-call/one-click transportation resource center that will ease access and improve ride scheduling for veteran families to various transportation programs in the region.
· $438,776 for Paratransit Services to turn an existing call center into a one-call/one-click transportation service connected directly to systems at Veterans Administration hospitals in the region and additional transportation providers.
The three grant recipients worked with WSDOT and the Agency Council on Coordinated Transportation to identify needs and develop coordinated proposals. These rural and nonprofit transportation providers then were required to submit proposals to WSDOT for review before sending the grant applications to the FTA.
“Connecting veterans and their families to the benefits and services they have earned through their military service is the mission we strive to achieve each and every day,” said John Lee, director of the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs. “So I am incredibly excited that Hopelink, the Human Services Council and Paratransit Services took the initiative to apply for grant funds to improve and increase veterans’ access to community transportation. I am confident these grants will connect veterans with the VA health care they’ve earned and help them access other providers in their communities.”
The Veterans Transportation and Community Living Initiative is led by the federal Coordinating Council on Access and Mobility, a permanent partnership of federal departments working together to better coordinate federal programs on behalf of people with disabilities, the elderly and low-income individuals. The council is chaired by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
Learn more about the Public Transportation Division at www.wsdot.wa.gov/transit.