A Holistic Approach to Lifelong Mobility – ITNAmerica’s Presentation to D1LG

 Dec, 16 - 2021   Transportation
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Katherine Freund, the founder of ITNAmerica, describes how ITNAmerica takes a holistic approach to promote lifelong mobility for seniors. Freund leads a national transportation network grounded in research, policy analysis, and education to support sustainable, community-based transportation solutions.

ITNAmerica is the first national, non-profit transportation network for senior mobility. It provides the tools for local organizations to create community-based transportation solutions. Its latest tool, ITNCountry provides local non-profits with the ability to connect volunteer drivers with passengers, similar to what Lyft or Uber does.

What Freund talks about is more than giving people rides. It is about making it easy for people to connect. As she says, “People will help each other if you help them figure out a way to do it.” It’s clear that is what ITNAmerica is doing.

Presentation Highlights:

  • 01:19 – Movement is a basic need and is what separates the plant and animal kingdoms. Losing the ability to freely move takes away from what it means to live.
  • 02:48 – ITNAmerica is the first national non-profit transportation network for mobility for older people and people with special needs.
  • 03:15 – With over 1 M rides in its database, ITNAmerica has an excellent view into how people move.
  • 03:45 – ITNCountry is ITNAmerica’s new, low-cost, cloud-connected model for providing mobility. It is based on ITNAmerica’s 26-year old model of providing door-to-door and sometimes arm through arm service. This will work especially well in rural communities.
  • 05:13 – From a cost perspective public transportation is very expensive to operate relative to the revenue generated (e.g. revenue approximately 7% of costs for VTA). Private alternatives, like Uber and Lyft, provide relatively high-quality curb-to-curb service, but their prices to the consumer are high as well (particularly since they are now focusing on profits/sustainability instead of buying market share as they were prior to being publicly-traded companies).
  • 06:16 – The Personal Transportation Account is fundamental to ITNAmerica’s approach of lowering costs, relative to traditional mobility approaches. This allows for some creative ways to pay for rides including trading cars for rides, paying by merchants and health care facilities, and credits by volunteering to drive others. They are creating a sort of transportation currency.
  • 08:01 – Both communities that don’t have a transportation network and those who do can benefit from ITNAmerica’s approach.
  • 09:37 – Salesforce and ESRI provide a strong technological foundation for ITNCountry. Accessibility, security, visibility in the resulting back-office and associated app are at the core of ITNCountry’s solution. Given the median age is 83, it is important that caregivers be given a method to assist in setting up rides.
  • 13:53 – The key to making this network is the back-end and being able to document the volunteer drivers, screen for criminal history, ensure insurance, etc.
  • 14:27 – It is important that rides can be set up using a traditional telephone number, as opposed to an app-only approach. This gets to Freund’s larger point that the systems need to evolve with technology and how people use the technology.
  • 17:23 – Freund explains what is meant by “Transportation Social Security”.
  • 18:02 – The many opportunities for ITNCountry’s mobility efforts to complement the local healthcare community’s efforts. excites Freund. ITNCountry’s back-end portal helps manage the funding and marketing aspects of the local transportation network.
  • 19:58 – Freund points out that transportation is critical to non-profits. She gives the example of the pilot they are doing with the Good Shepherd Food Bank in Maine (the only food bank in Maine), to help connect and bring volunteers to its food bank.
  • 21:57 – Another exciting project is the Clean Commute Project, which aims to help electrify the commute in rural areas, helping both those who can drive, but can’t afford a car (particularly an electric car) as well as people who cannot drive.
  • 24:00 – Sam Piencenaves, Assistant Manager of West Valley Community Services’ RYDE explains its program that is geared towards older adults.
  • 24:51 – Grassroots programs with volunteer drivers seem like a great way for energizing neighborhoods and communities and could fit into D1LG’s mission.
  • 25:52 – Freund explains that ITNCountry is customizable to meet each community’s needs, including 24 hour/7 days per week service.
  • 28:13 – Customization can even mean requesting particular drivers. Freund explains how she will provide a 5:30 AM ride to someone who has an upcoming dialysis treatment.
  • 29:21 – Freund addresses the question of liability. Liability insurance laws vary by State. This AARP article provides more detail
  • 30:50 – How much does it cost the passenger? Freund points out this is up to the local provider. Some might charge nothing, by the ride, by time, and/or by the mile. She talks about this different parameters that local providers can consider.
  • 36:11 – Freund references a study that ITNAmerica did in concert with other groups for the CDC that provides an overview of the different types of rideshare services.
  • 37:27ITNMonterey is the closest affiliate and provides a great example of what can be done with ITNAmerica’s model.
  • 39:47 – Vice Mayor Jones indicates that this intitiative could be valuable and beneficial for the community.