Take a trip down memory lane with us as we revisit some of the ground-breaking accomplishments that Feonix has been a part of over the past two years!
We are working our way across the United States, changing lives, one mile at a time.
The Winnebago Catch-A-Ride (WCAR) Program has provided more than 1,000 rides for people to get to work since it's inception in 2018.The program is growing and has no plans to slow down. Even amidst the global pandemic, we are currently working to make sure essential employees have transportation to work!
To learn more about the path WCAR has taken to get where they are today, you can read this article featured on the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation Website.
During my recent participation in MOVE 2020 London (MOVE: Mobility Re-imagined), one of the world’s largest transportation conferences, a theme developed amongst my conversations. The theme started to show itself before I even arrived at the conference. I was fortunate enough to be selected to speak on a panel entitled, “What Can MaaS Do for Your City?”. In order to prepare for the panel, the moderator was tasked with speaking to each panelist about the work that we do and how we are involved in MaaS. During my phone call, I spoke to him about what I feel is the most important part of implementing a MaaS solution- bringing all of the stakeholders together to discuss the challenges and create solutions. At Feonix, we call this a Mobility Leadership Circle (MLC). I shared that the MLC is the place where we discover needs that we never even thought about, as well as resources that have existed in communities for years with few in the community knowing about their existence. It’s the place where we hear the stories of friends and neighbors that suffer through isolation, hunger, unemployment, and illness, all because of a lack of transportation. Yet, when it comes to assigning responsibility for transportation to an entity, a department, or a person, there’s typically not a clear home. As the moderator and I developed that thought, he said, “I have often said that transportation has long been the silent challenge, hidden behind other, more obvious needs like healthcare, food, clothing, employment, or housing.” “YES!!!,” I almost yelled into the phone.
While transportation has crept to the forefront of many conversations in the last decade or so, it has been lying under the surface, affecting so many aspects of our daily lives long before gaining popularity as something to study, something to fix, or something to revolutionize. Even as I write that, I know someone will want to call me out on that. Yes, I know that there have been transportation projects and studies for years and years, but let us take a minute to examine the transportation landscape I often encounter when brought to a community to help solve transportation challenges. I hear from nurses that have individuals stuck at the emergency room after a discharge because they have no transportation home. Often, the hospital will offer a bus ticket or a taxi, but sometimes the person is left to figure it out on their own. Even when transportation is offered, it is not often part of an organized transportation program or system within the health facility. It is a “charity case” from the hospital foundation or a discretionary expense from the social work budget. Sometimes, it’s a small line item in the budget, and everyone hopes and prays that they don’t have to use more than that amount.
I don’t mean to pick on healthcare. I am not (at least not in this article) stating that I feel the health system should be in the business of transportation. I could have picked a large employer as an example. Let’s imagine a large manufacturing facility about 10 miles outside of a city. The public transportation does not reach the facility, and a cab ride is pretty expensive. The manufacturing facility has constant turnover and just recently started asking some more questions to try to learn why. As it turns out, 5 employees in a 4-month period were either fired because of tardiness and absences that they claimed were from a lack of transportation or quit and cited a lack of transportation to work as the reason for quitting. The employer spends a lot of money training and re-training employees, so they decided to try to solve the transportation issue by asking employees to consider carpooling. As transportation is not this employer’s area of expertise, no significant time or financial resources were invested in the solution.
If you are sick, you know to get to a doctor. If you are hungry, you look for a food bank. If you need housing, there are housing authorities or homeless shelters as resources. If you need transportation, where do you go? And how do you get there in the first place? Where is the Feed the Children or ASPCA of the transportation world?
MOVE 2020 in London proved that there are definitely groups working on the solution. There are tech companies looking at transportation platforms. There are city governments trying different solutions and coming up with innovative public transport options. There are non-profits that have programs designed to help craft solutions. There are students and professors adding large bodies of research to the space. There is a lot going on. At the end of the day, however, transportation is still, in my mind, and in the minds of many others I spoke with during this conference, fairly assessed as a silent challenge. Right now, the solution is somewhat lost in the noise of the race to create the perfect program or product. The voices of the underserved still sit quietly below the surface. Will it be Autonomous vehicles? Electric Vehicles? Shuttles? Shared Rides? Public Transit? Scooters? MaaS Platforms? Strict Public Policy controlling the space? Market decisions amongst the available tech? Perhaps all of these factors will shape the transportation ecosystem. For now, I think we need to start with realizing that this is not a chicken or egg situation. Transportation solutions really do need to be in place so as not to bias healthcare solutions, employment solutions, food insecurity, housing, etc. It all starts with how people are going to get there, not where they are going to go!
This is why Feonix has big dreams. We dream of being the world’s leading transportation non-profit that organizes the necessary partners in the space, gives voice to the voiceless, and truly creates a world where there is equal access to mobility for all.
Valerie Lefler, Feonix's Executive Director, had the honor of being invited to speak with Michelle Rathman of the Rural Matters Podcast.
In this episode, you’ll hear why transportation matters in rural communities, how Feonix helps fill the transportation gaps, and the role transportation plays in economic development and job growth in the rural sector.
Watch a video about how Carolyn moved to Columbia and now uses the AARP Ride@50+℠ Program to experience independence again after recovering from a serious stroke.
Discussions about the future of transportation are an important first step in making sure we are providing access for all.
In this webinar, Ms. Lefler discusses the benefits of a successful volunteer driver program within the MaaS framework and the importance of communication - in relation to volunteer driver engagement during “Covid - 19”. “Really making sure that your volunteers feel engaged and know they are valued.” is a key factor according to Valerie.
Valerie Lefler joins international colleagues Keelan Fadden-Hopper from West Midlands Transport Authority (UK) and Paul Speirs from PTV Group (Germany) to discuss Mobility-as-a- Service (MaaS). Topics span environmental issues, road safety and the importance of working together with transportation and community partners.
With several projects dedicated to disability awareness, there is no question regarding Feonix’s stance on inclusivity.
CTN, Ann Arbor, MI public access television network, interviewed our own Rachel Kosla! In this fantastic interview, she discusses the history of Feonix - Mobility Rising’s partnerships with TheRide and Ann Arbor Center for Independent Living, and more!
Watch the above video to learn about some of the ways Feonix is working to make the world a more accessible and inclusive place.