Governor Shumlin: Vermont Receives Grant to Aid Veterans with Transit Needs

MONTPELIER – Gov. Peter Shumlin announced today that the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) received a $352,900 grant from the Federal Transit Administration to develop software and Internet services that will help U.S. veterans and their families access public transportation services that are specific to their needs.

The money will be used for several purposes, including development of a website that provides veterans specific information about their eligibility for a host of transit services. Those include on-demand rides, the purchase and instillation of software that will allow the Disabled American Veterans’ and the Veterans Administration’s independent transportation system be incorporated into the same dispatch system used by all public transit providers in Vermont, and installing GPS location devices in various public transit vehicles – such as vans operated by Disabled American Veterans – so that more efficient dispatch decisions can be made.

“This grant will make life a little easier for our soldiers and their families by improving access to transportation services that they need to travel to work, health care appointments and other places,” Gov. Shumlin said.

In a joint statement, Vermont's congressional delegation – Sens. Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders, and Congressman Peter Welch -- said, "This is great news for veterans in Vermont, who often cite finding a ride to and from their medical visits as a major barrier in getting the care they need in the VA health care system.  With this investment, veterans throughout Vermont will be able to go online to learn about transportation options and to request rides.  For many it will save long commutes, overnight stays, or headaches worrying about how they will get the medical health they need and deserve."

VTrans Secretary Brian Searles agreed, adding, “These funds enable us to create a technology-based infrastructure that will allow not only us but all Vermont-based transit providers to better link veterans and their families up with transit services. The goal is to make it easier for them to access the many services that they need.”

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said this grant is part of $34.6 million for 55 projects in 32 states and Guam to enhance access to local, affordable transportation services for military families and spouses, and wounded warriors.

“Military families and veterans must be able to take full advantage of the transportation resources in their communities,” said Peter Rogoff, Administrator of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), which manages the grants through its discretionary Bus and Bus Facilities Program, in a statement. “Every service member who returns home or a spouse who relocates to a new community deserves the best possible chance to earn a reliable paycheck and that means having access to reliable transportation choices.”

The new website will allow the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) to educate vets about their eligibility for rides, make requests electronically and direct them to other resources when they do not qualify for DAV rides. The website also will provide links that connects the viewer to the appropriate service, as well as allow DAV to coordinate rides on a statewide basis using updated technology which will allow DAV to better utilize its scarce resources.

The grant also provides funds to develop software that will enable both the DAV and Veteran Administration to incorporate information about their transportation systems into the same dispatch and tracking system used by all public transit providers in Vermont. The grant includes money for both software installation and training.

Grant funds will also be used to install GPS tracking devises in public transit vehicles and DAV vans so dispatchers can monitor bus and van locations to make more efficient dispatch decisions.

Once up and running, the State of Vermont plans to study use of the new transit systems and learn from the experiences of  Vermont veterans and their families to create a similar transit model that can be used to aid other groups like seniors, disaster victims and the disabled with transportation needs.

One of the goals is to develop a step-by-step manual for transportation providers, groups needing rides, and volunteer groups to engage each other on the path to enhancing available rides through coordination and education. 

Press Contact

David Carle: 202-224-3693