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CAMPO board approves project funding for seniors and differently abled citizens

Wednesday, November 10, 2021 by Seth Smalley

At Monday’s meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, a quorum of transit board members, Travis County commissioners and City Council members discussed Federal Transit Administration 5310 Project Call funding, which is primarily intended for projects that increase accessibility and service for seniors and those with disabilities.

CAMPO intends to allocate $2.1 million to Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority programs in the region, 55 percent of which must be spent in the next couple of years on “traditional capital funding.” That includes bus and shelter purchases and funding curb cuts. The remaining 45 percent will be spent on operational funds, such as driver salaries, gas and insurance.

Over the last few months, Capital Metro staff members have been evaluating projects for readiness and eligibility, and green-lighting projects for recommendation.

“It’s important to note that when we go through eligibility, there are different eligibility criteria for each type of funding,” explained Ryan Collins, CAMPO’s short-range planning manager. Collins pointed out that, while $2.1 million was available to allocate, there were $13 million in project funding requests (only $3 million of which were eligible).

Eleven sponsors constituted the $3 million in funding requests, which a five-member panel then ranked, scored and averaged. The projects recommended for funding were Senior Transportation Service, Senior Mobility Management, Senior Connect, On the Road Again, Equitable Access for Seniors, Transportation for Cognitively Disabled Older Adults in Central Texas, and Senior Transportation Program.

Board member and City Council member Ann Kitchen suggested that CAMPO work with one of the organizations that received a low score, the Mary Leakey Foundation.

“I’m hoping that maybe we can work with them for the future, because as I understand from our discussion, they didn’t completely fill out the application and that was one of the reasons for their low score,” Kitchen said. “I do know that this is a foundation that serves special-needs folks, so I would like to understand better what’s going on with them.”

“I do want to point out that almost all of these programs are incredible programs and it’s really based on the applications,” Collins told the quorum, pointing out that AGE of Central Texas, an organization that was not eligible in the past, was eligible this time around after receiving feedback from CAMPO.

The 5310 program is among the oldest of FTA programs. Started in the 1970s by CAMPO, the 5310 program selected Capital Metro as its funding recipient, on the condition that CAMPO would be in charge of the project selection. CAMPO’s 5310 project selection criteria was updated this year. (The previous selection criteria was from 2012.)

“The funding for 5310 is designed to really provide these critical transit and transportation services for individuals with disabilities, as well as seniors,” Collins told board members. “And when you think about those vulnerable populations, these are folks that typically can’t leave the house. So this funding really does provide that critical link to the outside world for these folks.”

The quorum unanimously approved CAMPO’s funding recommendations.

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