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Collaboration means transportation for everyone

In the Ledger-Transcript’s article “Getting to There from Here,” the transportation landscape for the region — complete with acknowledging ingrained behaviors of driving oneself to trying other modes of getting where you want to go, along with obstacles and challenges for those that don’t drive— was well represented. Voices from N.H. Department of Transportation, Southwest Regional Planning Commission, Contoocook Valley Transportation Company, TransportNH, as well as people who use alternate means of transportation, either by choice or circumstance, laid out the realities of living in a predominantly rural setting when it comes to one’s mobility and independence.

Contoocook Valley Transportation Company has been providing transportation solutions through our Volunteer Rider Program and on-line carpool program, Monadnock Rideshare, since 2009. We are one of three nonprofit organizations in the region that provide transportation, primarily for elderly and disabled adults, to medical appointments and to basic needs, like food shopping and pharmacy visits. We share the road with the American Red Cross, N.H. West Chapter and Home Healthcare, Hospice and Community Services.

Coordination among the three agencies has minimized duplication of effort and expanded options for long distance trips to West Lebanon’s Dartmouth Hitchcock Hospital and the Veterans Administration Hospital in White River Junction. All three organizations attend the Monadnock Regional Coordinating Council for Community Transportation where regional needs are prioritized and state formula funds are distributed.

The Transportation Company’s vision is really quite simple: Transportation for Everyone. What will that look like? Scott Bogren, director of Communications for the Community Transportation Association, states, “Choice is a key component for public transportation’s future. People, be they senior citizens, school children, commuters or welfare recipients, need transportation alternatives that are responsive to their needs. The notion that there is only one way to go is obsolete, because without adequate choices, people inevitably find themselves stranded and isolated.” Bogren’s further states that “flexibility in options is pivotal to this objective because people’s needs constantly change.”

For our region’s transportation future, shifting from coordination to collaboration is the next step. Instead of working with agencies to do more with less, community transportation providers will fine-tune their communication, develop a common vision, share assets and solve problems together. Competition for resources among groups will be replaced with joint requests, with the goal to streamline mobility for everyone. As Bogren envisions, “Gone will be the senior bus, the school bus and the job shuttle van — replaced by a seamless transportation service that contracts with schools, hospitals, senior centers and nursing homes, industrial parks and even shopping malls.”

Collaboration will create enhanced transportation services for our family, friends and neighbors. The Transportation Company and the members of the Coordinating Council are working toward this goal.

Ellen Avery is the executive director for Contoocook Valley Transportation Company .

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