Blog Post Collaboration between UNMC Munroe-Meyer Institute and Mode Shift Omaha
Many of the groups that Mode Shift Omaha is in conversation with are those that represent individuals facing major challenges in their ability to access affordable transportation in Omaha that will get them to work, school, or desired destinations. One such group is UNMC’s Munroe-Meyer Institute (MMI). They work with individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities.
Recently, MMI received the results of the National Core Indicators (NCI) Adult In-Person Survey, which is a collaborative effort between the National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services, the Human Services Research Institute and U.S. states. The purpose of the program is to support states collecting a standard set of developmental disability related performance and outcome measures to maximize effectiveness of developmental disability services.
Respondents were asked to identify their most significant support need in the survey. Nearly a third of Nebraska individuals listed transportation – which is a higher percentage than the national average. There are many reasons why the transportation issues are so much greater for Nebraska residents. One is that Medicaid changes have made it so that only Medicaid Service Providers can bill Medicaid. Therefore, individuals can’t directly buy a bus pass or pay for ZTrip – this adds a layer of complexity that makes many unable to utilize available transportation dollars. A region specific issue may be the low funding we have for public transportation. Heartland 2050’s website shows that Omaha spends $36 per capita on transit, which is among the lowest in the nation. The average is $78 per capita. Dayton. Ohio, which is smaller than Omaha, spends $91 per capita. Denver spends $206, Salt Lake City $229 and Pittsburgh $232.
We want to advocate for better transportation options with the staff at Munroe-Meyer Institute and the individuals they serve. Progress in this area will give individuals with disabilities much more independence and increase their ability to practice self-determination. Lack of transportation is a major barrier to getting and keeping a job, leads to loneliness as it is harder to socialize with friends and family – and is even a barrier to simply getting and keeping a doctor (some have lost access to doctors based on being late to appointments due to issues with paratransit service). If we can improve on this issue in our city it could truly be life changing for many.