Rockingham County has one of the fastest growing senior populations in New Hampshire, and that will accelerate in the coming 10-20 years. Access to transportation for medical care, groceries and other basic life needs can make the difference for many in being able to age in place and live at home, or need to enter long-term care. While COAST and CART offer excellent service, only six communities in the RPC region are served by regular public transportation. The large majority of other communities depend on non-profit organizations to provide limited mobility service. Needs assessments by United Way of the Greater Seacoast, Exeter Hospital and other agencies continue to point to the need for expanding transportation options. RPC staff work on a number of initiatives to address this need:
Transportation Assistance for Seacoast Citizens (TASC)
Transportation Assistance for Seacoast Citizens (TASC) is a volunteer driver program based in Hampton and serving the eight RPC communities of Seabrook, Hampton, Hampton Falls, North Hampton, Rye, Greenland, Stratham and Exeter. Service is available to senior citizens and individuals with disabilities within these communities and to destinations outside the region as far away as Boston. RPC helped establish the organization and RPC staff serve on the TASC Board of Directors. Technical assistance to TASC includes service analysis, financial planning, Federal, local and private sector funding development, municipal outreach and working with TASC to integrate with regional transit coordination efforts.
Coordinating Public Transit & Human Service Transportation
In 2009 the State of New Hampshire designated a network of ten Regional Coordinating Councils for Community Transportation (RCCs) to undertake cooperative planning and transit service development to expand community transportation options throughout the state. RCC membership is made up of the regional public transit agency, non-profit and some for-profit transportation providers, other health and human service agencies that purchase transportation for their clients, and municipal staff. RPC staff are involved with two of these regional transit development efforts:
Southeast NH RCC (Region 10)
Also known as the Alliance for Community Transportation (ACT), this RCC covers all of the Strafford planning region and the eastern half of the Rockingham planning region. COAST provides staffing assistance for ACT, along with RPC and SRPC. ACT has established a regional call center with a goal of centralizing scheduling and dispatch services for multiple human service agencies. ACT has also spearheaded development of new services including the COAST North Bus, the Ready Rides volunteer driver program, and helping TASC secure a wheelchair accessible minivan to serve more people with mobility impairments
The Greater Derry-Salem RCC covers the western portion of the RPC region as well as several communities in the Southern NH Planning Commission region. The CART transit system serves as the lead agency for the RCC for the purpose of managing FTA grant funding, while RPC and SNHPC jointly staff the RCC. The RCC has worked with CART to establish several new services including a taxi voucher program for seniors and individuals with disabilities; senior shuttles serving Hampstead, Derry and Londonderry; and expanded volunteer recruiting and training for the Greater Salem Caregivers. RPC staff coordinate RCC meetings every other month, develop grant funding applications, and collect and analyze transit need data to aid in development of new services.