This is a community announcement from the Tompkins County Transportation Equity Coalition. It was not written by The Ithaca Voice. To submit community announcements, please send them to Matt Butler at email@example.com.
The Tompkins County Transportation Equity Coalition has released a county-wide survey as part of an ongoing Transportation Equity Needs Assessment (TENA). All Tompkins County residents are invited to submit responses at this link. between now and April 30. The Transportation Equity (TE) survey, created by the Coalition and administered by the local professional survey firm Yasamin Miller Group, offers those who complete it the chance to enter a raffle for a TCAT pass, Ithaca Bikeshare credits, Ithaca Carshare membership and credits, a $100 Wegmans gift card or a $100 Amazon gift card. Survey responses will be used to guide the Coalition’s next steps in furthering access to transportation for all.
Later this year, the Coalition will work with a community-based planning group and Golden Aspen Consulting, LLC, a local professional evaluator, to understand the TE survey results, share them with other community leaders and help develop solutions. The final report, which will present responses against the backdrop of prior community input and relevant local trends, will be available as a resource later this year.
The Transportation Equity Coalition includes TCAT, Gadabout, the Center for Community Transportation (Bike Walk Tompkins, Ithaca Bikeshare, Ithaca Carshare), GO ITHACA, Way2Go of Cornell Cooperative Extension Tompkins County, Tompkins County Planning and Sustainability Department, citizen disability advocates and the Ithaca-Tompkins County Transportation Council (ITCTC). For greater inclusivity, the Coalition recruited a special Planning Group with representatives of underserved communities to help develop the TE survey.
The Coalition also held focus group sessions with Tompkins County residents from underserved communities in the fall of 2022 to help shape the questions being asked on the TE survey, which are especially designed to hear from people who face barriers to transportation, including people with disabilities, seniors, youth, BIPOC or people with limited access to transportation, such as rural residents with limited income or without the ability to drive or access transit. The Coalition intends to use the TE survey report to identify and amplify insights about the strengths and weaknesses of the Tompkins County transportation system – including both services and infrastructure – as experienced by people in these underserved communities.
“It’s important to hear the unheard voices in our community regarding their needs and to have those voices inform planning and solution creation. I’m hopeful the more people engage in the survey, the more we can learn about what people around the county are experiencing,” said Norma Gutierrez of Way2Go, Cornell Cooperative Extension Tompkins County and Coalition member.
“This is not the first time a local group has tried to learn about transportation issues, and we already have some pieces of the puzzle. What’s special about the Transportation Equity survey is that it was created with input from so many diverse voices, that it’s comprehensive, and that it’s designed to help us bring insights to decision making in many different settings,” said Margaret Johnson, Director of Bike Walk Tompkins and Coalition member.
“Transportation remains a vital concern for folks residing on the urban and rural edges of our communities in Tompkins County. I’m proud to be a part of a team that prioritizes diverse voices when considering what to ask, what to include, where to allot resources and how to provide relevant services,” said Luke Sjolund, Student Services Advisor, TST BOCES and TENA planning group member.
“This survey can help us (users) to be listened to, and organizations can plan future decisions in transportation based on our needs,” said Erika Colquehuanca, Bike Walk Tompkins Steering Committee member and TENA planning group member.
“This survey is a good way to gather information about the transportation challenges people with disabilities face.” said Jan Lynch, Executive Director of the Finger Lakes Independence Center. “Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Paratransit works to alleviate the barriers to transportation equity that people with disabilities face; however, the hope is that this survey can highlight a comprehensive approach for transportation options that are inclusive of the needs of people with disabilities in a way that mirrors the convenience and options that are available to people without disabilities.”
“The community’s responses to this survey are critical in giving us a complete understanding of what, why and where transportation barriers exist and how we can move forward to remove them,” said TCAT General Manager and Coalition member Scot Vanderpool. “We already have a number of initiatives in the pipeline, including launching an app-based, on-demand transportation service in disadvantaged neighborhoods, to include West Hill and the Flats. This survey will further guide us toward helping those held back by a lack of transportation.”
“I’m excited that leaders in the transportation sector in Tompkins County have come together to implement the Transportation Equity Needs Assessment project,” said Fernando de Aragón, director of the Ithaca-Tompkins County Transportation Council and Coalition member. “The results of this effort will impact transportation planning and the provision of transportation services in the years ahead. I encourage everyone to participate in the ongoing survey.”