MOBILITY VENTURES EXPANDS ACCESS
About Mobility Ventures
Social benefits of universal design By Ryan Zemmer
The right tool for the job â€“ paratransit diversification By Ryan Zemmer
All-in for access By Ryan Zemmer
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About Mobility Ventures Mobility Ventures LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of AM General, is an American OEM making the MV-1. The MV-1 is the worldâ€™s first purpose-built and factory-produced mobility vehicle designed for universal accessibility. With the development and production of the MV-1, Mobility Ventures is committed to increasing access and independence by providing thoughtfully-designed accessible vehicles to the commercial, fleet and consumer markets. Please visit www.mv-1.us to discover what the versatile MV-1 can bring to your paratransit operation.
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Social benefits of universal design By Ryan Zemmer
“Universal design” isn’t necessarily a popular topic. It doesn’t come up amongst families at the dinner table or colleagues at the water cooler, but perhaps it should. After all, examples of universal design are rampant in our daily lives, and the segment of the population that depends on them is growing every day. At a high level, the principals of universal design require that the object is flexible and equitable in use, simple and intuitive, and requires low physical effort with the proper space and tolerance for error. The trend for equitable products and amenities got a serious kick start from the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act in July of 1990. Nearly 25 years later it is easy to see examples of accessibility and universal design An accessible door at least 36 inches wide provides the same amount of clearance found in most doors everywhere. Sure the obvious ones are and hallways. easy to spot, and you can probably name a few off the top of your head like curbReducing idle times lowers fuel costs, assists in meeting emission cuts, ramps, elevators, wide entrances and automatic doors. Others requirements, and keeps the route on schedule. can be more difficult to spot. Incorporating levers on doors instead It’s important that manufacturers provide a safe, quality vehicle that of knobs makes them easier to manipulate for someone with limited everyone can use regardless of their level of ability. A non-slip ramp dexterity. Even a hard, flat floor can be qualified as universal design, integrated into the floor (allowing access not just for wheelchairs, but because it provides significantly less rolling resistance for a user of a scooters, walkers, canes, and crutches) is essential. An accessible door manual wheelchair over padded carpet. at least 36 inches wide provides the same amount of clearance found While many individuals can understand and appreciate the small in most doors and hallways. Factory-installed restraints ensure that changes that make life easier for others, it usually ends there. Most any type mobility aid can be properly secured. The MV-1 by Mobility cannot see through the thin veil to understand that universal design Ventures provides the accessibility, versatility, and efficiency that can benefits everyone! If you stop to watch pedestrians crossing a busy be enjoyed by operators and passengers. street, you will notice that most tend to gravitate towards the curb With advances in medicine, our society is continuing to live longer cut. Not because they necessarily need it, but it allows them to keep a and those with debilitating diseases and/or injuries are able to enjoy natural stride. Much like automatic doors, an extra step is eliminated inclusive and active lives. The need for products that can accommodate allowing the herd of humans to move smoothly and consistently. everyone is only going to grow. According to the Administration on While delivering pizzas in college I routinely had my hands full. I took Aging (AoA), in 2009 persons 65+ represented 12.9 percent of the full advantage of every automatic door opener or lever that I could find population. That percentage is expected to grow to 19 percent by 2030. by utilizing a spare hip, elbow, or foot. This wasn’t the original intent While there will be some overlap between the two demographics, it is of the designs, but they are simple and flexible enough to be used in a also reported by the U.S. Census Bureau that in 2010, 19 percent of the number of ways. population has some form of disability. Most of these individuals still In the field of public transportation, many items have been have a strong sense of independence, but may need a little assistance designed to accommodate people with disabilities only to discover along the way. Equal access, barrier free, universally-designed that they had overarching benefits for operators and passengers alike. products will help ensure that independence while providing added Low-floor buses were designed to better accommodate wheelchairs benefits that everyone can enjoy. and scooters by eliminating stairs and lifts. Interestingly enough, people with disabilities were not the only ones to benefit from the Ryan Zemmer is marketing manager for Mobility Ventures, South Bend, IN, design. The ease of ingress/egress allowed ambulatory passengers manufacturer of the MV-1 vehicle. More information about the revolutionary MV-1 to quickly enter and exit the bus requiring less time at each stop. can be found at www.mv-1.us. 4
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The right tool for the job – paratransit diversification By Ryan Zemmer
There are many benefits to utilizing smaller vehicles within a fleet.
There’s no substitute for “the right tool for the job.” Think back to a first apartment or home and the eclectic collection of hand-me-down tools, good and bad, inherited from various friends or family to “get started.” They aren’t the best assets out there, but it is usually enough to get the job done. As the years go by and the freebies start to wear out or go missing, it becomes time to find suitable replacements. It’s not until that shiny new asset is home and in use that you can appreciate the benefit of having the right tool for the job. Having the right tool for the job doesn’t just apply to the weekend warriors, but it can carry through most situations. It’s not just about having something that will work, but something that will work the right way. It’s all about having the right asset in the right place. This philosophy can easily be applied to vehicle fleets and paratransit services. In many fleets, a wide range of tasks need to be accomplished, yet there is only one vehicle type in the stable. A diversified fleet helps ensure that all services are not only rendered, but done so efficiently. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to operate a 40-passenger bus if there’s only an average occupancy of three, nor does it make sense to operate a passenger van on the busiest avenue in town. It’s about finding the right fit. If a given operation only has full-size buses, many benefits could be obtained by utilizing smaller vehicles within the fleet. The purchase price of the vehicles will be significantly less than their larger counterparts, as will the operational cost. One less axle at the tolls can save significant funds over the course of the fiscal year. Maintenance intervals are often longer than large vehicles, and fuel consumption is greatly reduced. Small transportation solutions can also double as supervisor vehicles. If a large bus has a mechanical malfunction, the
supervisor vehicle could step in to transfer or transport a passenger that requires wheelchair access (and may not require a CDL to do so.) A diversified fleet can also have its advantages when it comes to natural disasters. I think back to last winter when Atlanta received a bad ice storm. Many vehicles were abandoned in the streets for days in a sort of post-apocalyptic scene as the mess was sorted out. There is a great benefit in easily navigating through the vehicle barriers or similar wreckage from a hurricane. Diversifying the fuel type in a fleet can also help ensure the agency is prepared for any situation. If the electrical grid goes down, most diesel and gasoline pumps will become inoperable, whereas CNG can still be obtained. A certain level of comfort can come with a standardized vehicle fleet, but it can also create inefficiencies and shortcomings when trends change or the unexpected happens. A diversified fleet can help ensure that agencies have the right tool for the job, regardless of challenges that may present themselves. Ryan Zemmer is marketing manager for Mobility Ventures, South Bend, IN, manufacturer of the MV-1 vehicle. Please visit www.mv-1.us to discover what the versatile MV-1 can bring to your paratransit operation.
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for access By Ryan Zemmer
On July 26th, 1990 the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was enacted by Congress, and has distinctly changed the face of public amenities and transportation ever since. This past July served as the 25th anniversary of the ADA and allowed millions to celebrate the progressive increase of access and inclusion around the country. Signature events were held in major cities including New York, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Cleveland and Washington, D.C., the home of the bill. I had the pleasure of attending many of these events personally, and the turnout was staggering. It was great to see Senator Harkin, author of the final version of the bill, present at many of the events, continuing to advocate for accessibility.
When going about a normal day, chances are you may interact with a couple individuals with varying levels of ability, but when you attend an event like this it truly drives home the number of individuals that have a need for inclusion in all aspects of society. Disabilities are not a “one size fits all” affair. Over 57 million Americans are registered with some form of disability, representing nearly 18 percent of the U.S. population, and those individuals (and their needs) are just as unique as everyone else. This number will only continue to grow as America’s population ages and lives longer, healthier lives. Statistics show that at some point in their lives most Americans will require mobility assistance, and that we are all temporarily able-bodied. In the past 25 years significant improvements have been made. Upon the signing of the bill, obtaining accessible transportation was nearly impossible. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), over 99.8 percent of public transit buses are accessible. Heavy and light-rail systems also rank in the top percentile. Commuter rails fall a bit short at 67 percent, but some exciting new technology is being pioneered to greatly improve those numbers. On July 29th, the DOT hosted a great event to showcase the progression and current state of accessible transportation, as well as address the challenges ahead. Secretary Foxx noted that additional accommodations will soon be found in airports including increased captioning, relief areas for service animals and lifts for flights that board from the tarmac. Efforts are being made to further increase safety at crosswalks and avoid incidents with the eerily-quiet electric vehicles that are becoming more prevalent. It’s become clear that America isn’t slowing down when it comes to furthering safety and accessibility for all. 6
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July’s ADA celebrations were held in major cities including Philadelphia (pictured), New York, Chicago, Boston, Cleveland and Washington, D.C.
The private and for-hire transportation industries are also instituting groundbreaking improvements for access around the nation. Multiple cities are increasing the requirements for accessible vehicles at 20-50 percent margins within their taxi fleets. Some groups are elated with the rulings. while others strongly believe that 100 percent of transportation should be accessible, much like the activists fighting for the ADA 25 years ago. The biggest grey area in accessible transportation currently resides with self-claimed “technology companies” such as Uber and Lyft. The design of their business operations fabricates the claim that they are not subject to laws regulating public transit, but I believe most individuals would argue that if the option is available to the general public, it qualifies as public transportation. Recent developments hint that these companies will be forced to make accommodations as the pressure for equal rights and accessibility increases. The good news is that vehicles are now being purpose built for personal and paratransit use. While the ADA has been around for 25 years, the momentum gained in the last five years has been particularly impressive. Every battle has set the precedent for the next and requests for increased access are often answered, if not mandated by law. New technologies are hitting the market every year that improve the quality of life for millions. The momentum for the disability community is here, and it is clear that America is all-in for access. Ryan Zemmer is marketing manager for Mobility Ventures, South Bend, IN, manufacturer of the MV-1 vehicle. Please visit www.mv-1.us to discover what the versatile MV-1 can bring to your paratransit operation.
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