Washington, D.C.—U.S. Senators Susan Collins, the Chairman of the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, and Angus King announced today that the Greater Portland Council of Government (GPCOG) has received $70,000 for a pilot program to increase access to transportation for vulnerable populations in the Portland area.
The grant, which was funded through the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Human Services Coordination Research program, will allow GPCOG to test Shopper Links, a city-wide weekly shopper shuttle service for older adults, people with disabilities, and individuals with low incomes. The service would address the identified unmet need for free or low-cost door-to-door transportation to grocery stores. Senators Collins and King wrote to the FTA in support of GPCOG’s grant application.
“As one of the oldest and most rural states in the country, Maine faces significant challenges in providing access to transportation,” said Senators Collins and King in a joint statement. “Access to transportation is a crucial factor in allowing senior and disabled Mainers to continue living in the comfort of their own homes and ensuring low-income individuals can reach essential services. GPCOG’s proposal will improve transportation options for these individuals and will have lasting benefits for years to come.”
“GPCOG is thrilled at the opportunity to pilot solutions that address transportation barriers for older adults and people with disabilities,” said Zoe Miller, Senior Project Manager & Public Health Specialist at GPCOG. “We will partner with RTP and stakeholders in South Portland to introduce free and low-cost door-to-door transportation for those who need it most. Lack of transportation access is a problem that affects the health and well-being of our most vulnerable community members – resulting in food insecurity and isolation. We hope to take what we learn from the Shopper Links pilot project in South Portland and use it to expand options throughout the region.”
GPCOG has been leading recent efforts to establish a multi-sector collaboration to improve Mainers’ access to transportation throughout the state. Through its Mobility Solutions for Maine proposal, GPCOG is working to improve coordination and efficiency of our transportation network for vulnerable populations. This project is the culmination of several years of partnership-building and goal-setting between the Maine Department of Transportation and stakeholder organizations that work on planning, human services, aging and disability, health care, public health, transportation, and housing issues.