MTM Creates Travel Training Sustainability for the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission (PRTC)
Due in part to the non-traditional nature of the local bus service in the Prince William area of Virginia, some residents were not knowledgeable about how to use the bus system. To combat this, PRTC sought a consultant who could develop a sustainable travel training program aimed at educating local service agencies and potential riders, including individuals with disabilities or limited English proficiency, older adults, veterans with disabilities, and low-income populations, about accessible transit options and the benefits of using public transportation. Made possible by New Freedom grant funding, the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, and the Prince William County Area Agency on Aging, it was important to PRTC that its partner had the ability to create reproducible training curriculum that could be taught to local agencies and delivered to trainees after grant funding was exhausted. Following a competitive procurement process, PRTC chose MTM to operate the year and a half-long program beginning in January 2012.
In collaboration with PRTC, MTM leveraged it’s On the Move offering to develop a customized travel training program. On the Move provides comprehensive instruction in real-life transit scenarios to familiarize riders with local transportation options and offers customized training to help riders gain new skills, overcome fears, and build confidence. Training processes utilize the standards and methodologies of national organizations such as the National Transit Institute (NTI), the Association of Travel Instruction (ATI), and Easter Seals Project ACTION (ESPA).
Within its local operations, MTM offers three levels of service: individualized and group travel training for users, as well as train the trainer curriculum for local agencies. Through these services, MTM teaches capable riders how to safely and independently access PRTC public transit options, provides informative system familiarization courses, and conducts workshops to teach social service providers how to become travel trainers and help their clients access public transit.
The train the trainer program was designed to sustain training efforts following the end of MTM’s contract through reproducible materials and workshop curriculum for use well into the future. Additionally, a how-to-ride video filmed on the PRTC system gives step-by-step instructions on utilizing the bus service, allowing simple familiarization for those who do not need one-on-one training.
Within the first year of MTM’s PRTC train the trainer operations, more than 540 riders were trained to utilize the local public bus system through individual and group training. Additionally, through train the trainer workshops, 165 representatives from local social service agencies and other organizations were trained to become travel trainers themselves. The response from train the trainer participants has been overwhelmingly positive:
Participants said they would recommend the train the trainer course to others
Participants agreed or strongly agreed that they were confident in their ability to apply the curriculum to their jobs
Participants agreed or strongly agreed that the workshop was organized and effective
Service providers, older adults, and individuals with disabilities are so eager to receive this information, making me feel like we really make a difference in the community.
Penny Everline, MTM Travel Trainer