Wolf Administration Urges Pennsylvanians to Review Transit Options, Apply for Transportation Assistance Programs

Jennie LouwersePennDOT Deputy Secretary for Multimodal Transportation, Jennie Louwerse (Credit: Commonwealth Media Services)

HARRISBURG, PA — Officials from the Pennsylvania departments of Transportation (PennDOT) and Human Services (DHS)are urging Pennsylvanians to use Find My Ride (FMR) to learn about public transit options and apply for transportation assistance programs. The participants in a press conference yesterday underscored transit’s critical role in getting people to work and medical appointments while connecting them to their communities.

Public transportation services are available in every county in Pennsylvania, including:

  • Shared-ride service in all 67 counties;
  • Fixed route bus service in 49 counties; and
  • Fixed route rail service in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

“Transit provides a vital connection to jobs, to medical appointments, and to our communities,” said PennDOT Deputy Secretary for Multimodal Transportation Jennie Louwerse. “We urge Pennsylvanians to try transit, and we’re excited that it’s now easier to access these services.”

Citizens are encouraged to use FMR Apply, an online tool that was developed collaboratively with transit agencies and streamlines the application process for the five largest transportation assistance programs in the state, including the Senior Shared Ride program, the Medical Assistance Transportation Program (MATP), ADA complementary paratransit, the Persons with Disabilities program and the Free Transit Program. Additionally, FMR Apply allows third parties, such as a family member or healthcare provider, to apply for services on behalf of a rider.

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Collectively, 24.4 million trips supported by these programs were provided to Pennsylvanians in the 2020-21 fiscal year. An additional 141 million trips – including 17.7 million free senior trips – were provided through fixed-route service in the 2020-21 fiscal year.

Since the rollout of FMR Apply in May 2021 via transit agencies, assistance-program applications have been processed for nearly 8,000 Pennsylvanians and benefits to transit agencies, PennDOT, DHS, and customers have been considerable. Customers do not need to determine what programs they are eligible for, and this, coupled with the user-friendly application has resulted in an increase in applications submitted. Automatic data validation within the application has resulted in improved data accuracy, saving transit agencies time and money in processing applications. Transit agencies can process applications more efficiently, which allows transit users to access benefits more quickly.

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“The Wolf Administration is always working to make the services we provide easier to access for the people we serve, and the Find My Ride tool is an excellent example of collaboration between state agencies in making this happen,” said Andrew Barnes, Deputy Executive Secretary for DHS. “Nobody should let a lack of transportation keep you from getting to a doctor’s appointment or filling your prescription. I encourage anyone who needs transportation to their physician, pharmacy, dentist, or other necessary medical services to apply today.”

DHS’ MATP program provides non-emergency medical transportation for Medicaid-eligible consumers who do not have access to transportation. MATP funds more than 9 million trips annually, and each county provides the type of transportation that is the least expensive while still meeting an individual’s needs. Contact information specific to each county MATP provider can be found at matp.pa.gov.

Accessibility was a key focus when developing FMR Apply, with emphasis on validating color contrast, use of captions, use of assistive reader devices, sentence length, and reading level to evaluate the forms accessibility. User feedback has been extremely positive and has been demonstrated by the continuous increase in online applications.

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FMR Apply leverages Keystone Login, a single, secure user credential that can be used to log into multiple Commonwealth online services. The team that developed FMR Apply was recently recognized with a Governor’s Award for Excellence.

Find My Ride’s education and application modules were developed over two years, made possible by $1 million from the Federal Transit Administration and $1 million in state transit funding.

More information on public transit and alternative transportation options like ridesharing, biking, and walking, is available on PennDOT’s website.

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