- The Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) is running an 18-month Rides to Wellness pilot program intended to increase accessible transportation for citizens' healthcare appointments and non-emergency medical care, according to Atlanta Business Chronicle.
- ARC's custom program focuses on increasing collaboration between heath and transportation providers, improving access to healthcare and training participants to confidently use public transportation.
- Grady Health System, Morehouse School of Medicine and Choice Health Care Network, Mercy Care Atlanta, and Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) have teamed up with ARC for this program.
The ARC is one of 19 transit agencies around the nation that was awarded a Rides to Wellness program grant from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). According to FTA, an estimated 3.6 million Americans miss or delay their non-emergency medical care annually due to transportation issues, creating a dire need for this initiative. While Atlanta's program is currently only slated for the pilot phase, it is already being praised for its success, making it likely that stakeholders will continue to invest in the partnership after the pilot is over.
According to the FTA's Rides to Wellness Community Scan Project, a number of other cities have developed innovative ways to improve access to medical care through public transit. Worchester, MA has developed a scheduling software to streamline the patient appointment scheduling with transportation services; South-Central Missouri has launched HealthTran, a transportation program that coordinates transportation and provides services to individuals across ten counties in Missouri; and Buffalo, NY launched Go Buffalo Mom, a transportation program that provides personalized support and financial education to low-income pregnant women. These programs have increased healthcare opportunities for residents of all demographics, pushing participating communities toward healthier futures.
Atlanta is notorious for its traffic bottleneck — so much so that has been ranked one of the worst in the country. This initiative from ARC is just one way that the group is looking to improve Atlanta's transit system and reduce car dependence. A recent survey found that 51% of public transit users would be willing to pay more taxes to fund an expansion and improvements of the transit system — suggesting it is a crucial network for Atlanta residents, and could use some more attention.