TRENTON, N.J. -A new, streamlined transportation initiative is now under way after an agreement to share services was reached by Mercer County's TRADE program and ARC Mercer, one of the largest nonprofit organizations in the County.
On April 1, 2008, ARC Mercer launched a new program, "Arc Trans," the result of efforts to coordinate all major human service transportation providers in Mercer County led by Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes.
Arc Trans was developed by the staff of ARC and Mercer County's TRADE to better coordinate transportation services identified in the Human Service Transportation Coordination Plan (HSTCP) that was completed in September 2007.
"We need to provide these services to our most vulnerable populations while containing costs for our taxpayers," said Hughes. "This kind of cooperation fits with my administration's strong emphasis on coordinating and sharing local services. The end result here is a win-win for Mercer County residents, ARC Mercer, and the residents who rely on us for transportation."
The County TRADE program (Transportation Resources to Aid the Disadvantaged and Elderly) was created to provide transportation for those 60 years old or older and residents with disabilities to medical appointments, job sites, government offices, and other locations to improve quality of life. Meanwhile, ARC Mercer serves approximately 1,000 individuals with developmental disabilities and their families, and provides transportation to many of them.
The Coordination Plan found a need to increase the efficiency of transportation services provided to seniors, people with disabilities, and people with low incomes, and ARC and the TRADE program joined forces.
ARC Mercer was transporting approximately 100 customers on a daily basis, while TRADE was transporting another 50 customers daily.
"In some cases, both ARC Mercer and TRADE vehicles were traveling in the same neighborhoods to transport customers to the same destinations," said County TRADE Director Martin DeNero.
ARC Mercer studied its system and implemented new technology, which allowed it to redesign its routes and add more riders. Subsequently, Arc Mercer offered to create "Arc Trans" and assume some ridership from TRADE to relieve its burden.
"After meeting with Mr. DeNero, we understood the need and value that comes with smart transportation planning," said Arc Mercer Executive Director Steven Cook. "We really owe County Executive Hughes a great deal of kudos for taking the lead on this issue."
Arc Trans began its morning on April 1 by arriving at the homes of 50 customers who Mercer County TRADE Transportation had transported on the day before.
TRADE Transportation now has more vehicles and drivers available to offer other customers transportation, including trips to work and dialysis treatment.
Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes, who congratulated ARC staff on implementing Arc Trans, championed the HSTCP and recognized it provided the tools necessary to provide quality transportation services to the aged and disabled residents of Mercer County in an efficient and cost effective way.
"The work of the Coordination Plan will continue," DeNero said. "This plan provides a road map for how agencies can work together to provide more effective, efficient, and seamless transportation services to eligible Mercer County residents."
The local Coalition for Coordinated Transportation will meet at 9:30 a.m., May 1, 2008, at the Lawrence Library to continue addressing the work outlined in the Coordination Plan.
"The implementation of Arc Trans is rewarding for the community members who worked on the HSTCP last year, and there is the potential to do much more," Hughes said.