Monday, April 29, 2013

Notable News in Mobility: The Right to Transportation

When the average American thinks about their own transportation experience, we usually think of how to get around traffic or how to cut a few minutes off our daily commute. We usually don’t have to consider whether or not we will have the ability to get to where we need to go; rather we just focus on how to make it a more enjoyable experience. But for many Americans, like those participating in the Mobile Voice Project, simply getting from place to place can be a daily struggle. This article by Wired asserts that transportation is should not be a privilege few enjoy, but a civil right to which all have access.  Every citizen should have the right to adequate transportation because “access to transportation is key to connecting the poor, seniors and those with disabilities to jobs, schools, health care and other resources. It is essential to widening opportunities for all.”  Without adequate transportation options opportunities that should be open to all are being withheld from those most in need. 

The women we work with everyday as a part of the Mobile Voice Project are among those with inadequate access to opportunities that could lead them to independence and an equal opportunity at financial security. I think it’s time for us as a community to come together and take the perspective of those less able to access the things in life many of us take for granted. When the federal government allocates 80 percent of its transportation funding to highways, and Americans in the lowest 20 percent income bracket spend up to 42 percent of their annual income on transportation, the way funds are allocated needs to change to assisting transportation-disadvantaged populations. As a community we can pressure our elected officials to make these changes. Let your voice be heard!

Sources: WIRED

Comments? Questions? Sound off on our Facebook page. 

Author: Nicholas Flickinger

Friday, April 26, 2013

Photo of the Week: "Speedy Service"

Speedy Service
This week one of our MVP participants submitted a picture of the information booth at Moore Square Station in downtown Raleigh.

The participant who took this photo listed this booth as a 'boost' to her transportation situation - something that helps her get around town. In her own words:

"The information desk is a boost because it allows you to buy passes in advance and to see what bus connects with other buses. The service is speedy."

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Notable News in Mobility: New Transit Hub Could Mean New Transit Future

The plan and design of a new downtown transit station was recently revealed at a meeting conducted at Meymandi Concert Hall. The project would cost an estimated $60 million and would serve as Amtrak’s new home. The facility located at 510 W. Martin St. would also serve as a hub for buses. The exciting possibility is that the station could also be equipped to house a future light rail connecting Wake and Orange County. The half-cent sales tax increase to fund the project has already been approved by the voters of Orange County and County Commissioners. The question is whether or not Wake county voters and county commissioners will take the leap and approve measures to push the plan forward in Raleigh.

Another big question is whether or not the new light rail service will serve low-income areas along its route. Having a light rail with stations serving disadvantaged areas could go a long way in expanding the transportation options and ultimately the opportunities available to populations that have limited access to personal vehicles, like our MVP participants. Even if these services are made geographically available, however, financial barriers could erase any potential benefit for low-income communities. If fares for the light rail are set out of reach for transportation-disadvantaged individuals, then the service could have no benefit to them at all. Hopefully some form of financial assistance based on need can be drafted and discussed along with proposed tax increases to finance the project.

The next public hearing on the new transportation hub will be in May. Hopefully the interests of those most in need of public transportation improvement will be kept in consideration as the discourse moves forward. If you want your voice to be heard on the issues contact your County Commissioners.

Sources: WRAL and Our Transit Future

Comments? Questions? Sound off on out Facebook page.

Author: Nicholas Flickinger

Friday, April 19, 2013

Photo of the Week: "Hard to Downsize"

Hard to Downsize

This is a photo taken by one of our participants this week to represent a barrier she faces to getting around town each week. 

What she wanted to illustrate with this photo was the difficulty of carrying around multiple bags. When asked what she does to make it easier, she mentioned downsizing as a strategy. But even that has its disadvantages:

"It's really hard to downsize when [you're carrying around] your life. It's hard to pick and choose. And if you want to downsize to at least one or two bags, but you end up with four have to give everything you got away, almost."

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Notable News in Mobility

The Mobile Voice Blog will not only be covering the progress of the Project but will also identify and dissect current events and policy issues that affect the women we work with.

One of the largest influences on our study populations’ ability to have dependable transportation that meets their needs is the government’s willingness to properly fund public transportation. As reported in a recent article by The Progressive Pulse, “North Carolina’s transportation system helps form vital social and economic structures by connecting people to services, jobs, and other opportunities across the state and beyond.” Without appropriately funded public transportation, citizens, including the women we work with every day, can miss out on opportunities to advance in careers and have access to vital services. Without transportation to adequate employment opportunities, women like those working with MVP can be barred from advancing economically and becoming homed. This is alarming, considering that North Carolina’s transportation budget is “facing a $60 billion shortfall for transportation improvements through 2040.”

Not only are forecasts of funding grim but, “The FY2012-13 budget took nearly $240 million from the Highway Fund and Highway Trust Funds to improve General Fund availability.” With transportation funds increasingly diverted to unspecified projects, it is hard to see how our elected officials will use such funds to in ways that will help disadvantaged populations to escape poverty. With a public transportation system that has already proven to be inadequate in serving transportation-disadvantaged populations, reducing funding to vital public transportation services can further hinder disadvantaged populations that already struggling.

As we move forward we will continue to examine the key issues to the improvement of the lives of our study population and hopefully encourage dialogue within our community as to how we can all come together to overcome transportation inequality.

Source: Progressive Pulse

Comments? Questions? Sound off on our project Facebook page.

Author: Nicholas Flickinger

Friday, April 5, 2013

This Week in MVP: Our New Video

Check out this new 'About MVP' video (recently added to the 'About MVP' page) to learn more about what we do and who we are:

MVP submitted this video to the Society for Community Research and Action (SCRA) video contest. No word back yet over whether or not our video placed first, but hopefully we will know soon! Winners of the contest not only receive a monetary prize, but the video will also be shared amongst psychologists and researchers in the Community Psychology field. It's a great way to raise awareness and funds, which is why MVP decided entering the contest would be a viable outlet for spreading the word about the work we do.

Mary Churchill and Sally Highsmith, two of our undergraduate research assistants, compiled the video. All pictures included in the video were taken by participants as part of the pilot MVP session at the Women's Center of Wake County. We had a lot of footage and participant pictures to work with, so we tried to diversify the types of shots used to give viewers an idea of what Raleigh's transportation system is like through the lens of our participants.

The project enabled our team to learn some new skills in movie making and put them to work in raising awareness about our project!

Friday, February 22, 2013

This Week in MVP: Results from MVP Pilot so far...

We held the pilot session for the Mobile Voice Project throughout late November and early December of 2012. Our team is hopeful that the data we collected will shed some light on the mobility patterns of the participants from the Women's Center of Wake County, and help us to fine-tune the logistics of the intervention before full implementation.

The numerous photographs taken by the participants were particularly interesting to go through and analyze. MVP team members are currently in the process of compiling the best shots and using them to create a video about the project. I've edited quite a few at this point, and I'd really like to share some of my personal favorites because I think they all illustrate the fact that these women lead complex and different lives, though all of them are affected by transportation in some way.
The Raleigh skyline as seen from South Harrington street.
Some women find it easier to walk in lieu of using public transportation due to delays and bus fare. 
Moore Square Station is a bustling area where Raleigh travelers wait to catch bus connections. 
Pedestrian and public transportation, side by side.
We are excited to share more photos with you through this process. As of right now, we are all working to get "official" sessions of the project underway, both at the Women's Center and at the Helen Wright Center for Women. We will begin full implementation in March, so make sure to check back on this blog for updates!