Inclusive Planning Guide Phase 5. Sustain


Inclusive coordinated transportation planning is not a one-time phenomenon. Rather, it is a sustained and deliberate set of practices as well as a philosophical shift within an organization to include people with disabilities and older adults in every facet of the organization – often in ways that enable their perspectives to influence transportation services.

Diverse team discussing and Sharing Ideas

When inclusive coordinated transportation planning is sustained, people with disabilities and older adults play important roles in planning, implementation and operational decisions. When inclusive practices are embedded in an organization, when a cultural shift occurs, inclusive practices become an everyday part of organizational systems and processes. Ultimately, transportation services for people with disabilities and older adults are improved because the needs of diverse riders are considered.

This page focuses on the institutional aspects of planning, implementing and continuing positive changes as you sustain your efforts.

Business People Planning Strategy Analysis in Office


When it comes to implementing an inclusive coordinated transportation planning initiative the importance of planning cannot be overstated. The Transit Planning 4 All projects used customized strategies to develop and implement inclusive coordinated transportation planning. Common themes emerged from their work.

The factors that need to be recognized in any organizational plan to begin, implement and sustain inclusive coordinated transportation planning include:

  • Level of interest of community participants,
  • Level of funding to implement recommended changes,
  • Level of local support,
  • System capacity to absorb change and growth, and
  • External factors that may mediate program results.

A comprehensive plan will assist an organization. If organizations are thoughtful in planning, and systematic in implementation, an inclusive culture with the active and vibrant participation of people with disabilities and older adults, can be sustained.

Examples from the Field

Early in their grant, People for People (Yakima, WA) set up a process to ensure that the project would be sustained. The process:

  • Determined current level of inclusive transportation planning in South Yakima County and how to improve it.
  • Continuously evaluated the public outreach process for successful participation of the target populations.
  • Evaluated how to sustain involvement of target populations.
  • Endorsed and advocated project decisions and assisted with fund raising.

At their final steering committee meeting, Hopelink (King County, WA) steering committee members brainstormed projects for an action plan. Their draft action plan was a key in guiding future project phases to sustain inclusive practices.

Serious female african leader manager talking during group office briefing teaching multiracial corporate business team

Plan for Challenges

The Transit Planning 4 All project defines outcomes as specific measures of a program’s impact or results that can specifically and logically be attributed to the program. The pilot projects paint a picture of incremental achievement. At the end of two years, none of the grantees had created a fully inclusive coordinated transportation system or completely achieved their ambitious goals to improve transportation in their communities. However, each was able to identify specific changes in the community that showed progress along the way to realizing the full benefits of inclusive transportation planning and ensuring that inclusive processes become the norm in transportation planning, service delivery and oversight.

Business people with woman in wheelchair at meeting for project planning at table


Inclusive coordinated transportation planning, implementation, and sustaining require commitment and funding. The lead agency will need to dedicate funding and staff resources to the effort in order for it to succeed. The amount of funding necessary will vary depending on the amount of work and the willingness and commitment of other organizations to provide staff and in-kind support to the initiative.

Budgets must consider preliminary work, including collecting data, conducting surveys or convening focus groups. Other issues that typically impact budget include: The need for an outreach campaign to reach specific population groups; whether there already is a functioning and willing advisory group with the potential to be expanded and empowered to conduct inclusive planning; the need to develop print materials to educate older adults and people with disabilities about current transportation options; and the desire to invest in technology to develop a more engaging website, a one-call/one-click resource center, or other communication vehicles. The need to consider sustainability of the effort from the outset cannot be over-stated and requires local commitment and ongoing efforts of participants and partners.

Example from the Field

Hopelink (King County, WA) noted that working within a budget could sometime hinder inclusiveness. They noted limits on the amount of incentives, translations, and services such as transportation. Many grantees turned to partners to provide in-kind services to support inclusion and achievement of project goals. Hopelink worked with outside partners to identify lists to request CART, ASL, and translation services, and planned to continue using those resources after the grant to ensure sustainability of inclusion.

Businesswoman giving a presentation on flipchart to colleagues sitting around table in conference room.

Lead Staff, Consultants, and Partners

There is no magic formula for determining the amount of staff resources needed to undertake inclusive coordinated transportation planning. The seven demonstration projects typically identified a project director who oversaw all activities and was responsible for reporting and managing consultants. The project director was not a full-time position for every project and the degree of day-to-day management and activity varied. Sponsoring agencies of the seven projects often provided staff support for additional management and guidance.

Diverse Group People Working Together

Dedicated Staff Resources

The seven inclusive coordinated transportation planning demonstration projects dedicated a percentage of labor to assure that the activities underlying their goal of inclusive coordinated planning were achieved. Sufficient staff time should be in place to devote to implementing project activities. Many projects hired qualified staff with expertise in diverse populations.

Timelines were established, continuous improvement processes were implemented and interest in creating inclusive practices became part of the mission and purpose of the organizations involved.

Examples from the Field

Boulder County (CO) hired a consultant experience working with a major mobility services company and as a transportation consultant to help develop their volunteer driver program.

Greater Portland Council of Governments (Portland, ME) hired a consultant to help develop an Inclusive Planning Toolkit. The consultant was fully involved in the grant project, including recruiting participants and attending the Transit Planning 4 All Grant Kick-off at the beginning of Year 2 of the grants.

Hopelink (Bellevue, WA) used a technology consultant to help develop a One-Call/One-Click Business Plan.

Meeting Sharing Brainstorming Analysis Opinion

Responsibilities of Partners and Participants

The responsibilities that partner organizations and participants assumed in the demonstration projects varied. These included:

  • Planners and conveners of focus groups;
  • Reviewers and advisors of proposed transportation regulations, transit accessibility, etc.;
  • Presenters at forums and community meetings both large and small;
  • Decision-makers and developers of recommendations;
  • Relationship-builders with various community groups; and,
  • Participants in riders’ groups.

In the Transit Planning 4 All projects, partners and participants proposed creative ideas, shared information in groups and individually, served as cheerleaders for project accomplishments, and sought new opportunities and partners. The bottom line is that participants took on the roles they needed to play, rose to the challenges, and contributed countless hours of time, energy and hard work to the seven demonstration projects.

Diverse employees brainstorm share ideas at casual office meeting

Institutional Commitment

From the outset, the leadership and commitment of a lead/sponsoring agency – whether a transit agency or an organization supporting older adults or people with disabilities – is crucial to success. In order for inclusive transportation planning to be adopted as normal practice, support and commitment must come from the top and not be confined solely to the individuals or the management unit that is engaged in the initiative. Do not underestimate the impact of efforts to help agency leaders understand the importance of the project and see the potential benefits of inclusive planning for other agency priorities.

Make the case for inclusive planning by educating agency leadership, other staff within the organization, agency partners, political leaders, and involved older adults and people with disabilities and their representatives about the potential benefits of inclusive planning. Strategic briefings should be convened periodically to report on the initiative’s accomplishments. Data from the project and illuminating anecdotes should be conveyed and connections made between the work of the project and other agency priorities.

Internal Considerations

An organization’s characteristics, systems and policies influence inclusive practices. Recruitment, hiring, and professional development are important opportunities to integrate inclusive practices into an organization’s work. Planning and implementing inclusive coordinated transportation planning are great opportunities for administrators to review job descriptions, examine their recruitment resources and review their interview processes.

Two office workers having personal briefing
  • Ensure that recruitment and hiring practices are inclusive. Use accessible outreach efforts, such as communication materials that are available in alternate formats.
  • Contact organizations with which people with disabilities and older adults are familiar as a way to diversify the range of applicants for recruiting and hiring.
  • Provide ongoing professional development. Professional development should focus on the value of inclusive coordinated transportation planning to the transit provider and especially to the system upon which riders with disabilities and older adults rely. Employees in a workplace may or may not have experience in interacting with people with disabilities or older adults. Offering professional development regarding topics such as disability etiquette, communications with people with older adults, understanding specific disabilities and assistive technology helps employees feel more comfortable with colleagues with disabilities or older adults, and also facilitate their comfort in outreach, recruiting and hiring.
  • Employ accessible technology tools for planning, communicating and administering services.

Businessman holding smart phone and working in office.

External Considerations

As organizational personnel develop and implement strategies to implement inclusive coordinated transportation planning, it is important to consider what is going on outside of the organization.

External considerations may include:

  • The political context and priority focus of particular local organizations and governing bodies.
  • Laws, regulations, and local funding initiatives.
  • Mechanisms to both garner support and win visibility from external organizations.

Activities should be designed to help move an initiative toward its major goal(s). The the Transit Planning 4 All project includes seven local inclusive transportation planning demonstration projects, each with unique goals and activities that reflect their regional circumstances.

Open communication with agency leadership is a must, particularly when things are not going as planned. Sometimes transportation improvements don’t happen on an anticipated timetable or hoped for improvements otherwise fail to meet the expectations of participants for rapid change. In an inclusive process, the key is to maintain engagement for the long haul.

Smart city technology concept, young woman using modern urban application of bus stop

Digital Tools

Technology is a means to an end, a facilitator of communication and information. For example, one-call/one-click transportation resource center technology offers information on community and public transportation options and enables on-line scheduling of rides. Automated call systems notify riders that a ride is on the way and improve the rider’s experience. Equipment, such as wheelchair lifts and ramps, kneeling buses, and portable ramps, deliver accessibility.

Many regions are developing applications that increase the accessibility of transportation information or impact how rides are provided to seniors and people with disabilities.

Example from the Field

Boulder County’s (CO) Mobility for All focused on assisting participants with technology one of its project outcomes. Eighty participants felt comfortable using transportation technology applications, and 17 ambassadors were trained to assist others.

Group of Diverse Hands Together

Maintain Commitment

When inclusive coordinated transportation planning is sustained, people with disabilities and older adults play lead roles in planning, implementation and operational decisions. When inclusive practices are embedded in an organization, when a cultural shift occurs, inclusive practices become an everyday part of organizational systems and processes.

When transportation officials create a welcome environment and specific channels for the perspectives of people with disabilities and older adults to be heard and acted on, sustainable inclusive practices inevitably follow. When an organization perseveres to assure that a philosophy and practice of inclusive coordinated transportation planning is in place, when it continuously assesses and modifies its approach, and when it adapts and reacts to changes in external and internal organizational factors, inclusiveness will be sustained.

Sustainability necessitates a commitment with a long-term view of inclusion.

Fostering Commitment

The desired end product of an inclusive process is the embedding of the perspectives of diverse populations in the design and delivery of transportation operations – over time, consistently and deliberately. Sustainability implies an implementation mentality – that the system and culture are changed. It necessitates that the changes leading to sustained activity are personal, that the perceptions and feelings of those involved are affected.

Business Group Meeting Discussion Strategy Working

Stakeholders – both inside and outside of an organization – and partner organizations must be committed to the spirit and practice of inclusive coordinated transportation planning. Commitment comes from being knowledgeable about a particular topic, and understanding its impact on either personal or organizational practice, or both. This means that it is necessary for organizational administrators to educate staff through high-quality education and professional development with periodic refreshers, to assure that employees, volunteers and other internal stakeholders are current in their knowledge of inclusive practice.

Organizations will want to provide staff with materials on an ongoing basis, such as those available through theTransit Planning 4 All website, that will educate personnel on topics and legislation important to inclusion. For instance, the Americans with Disabilities Act, with its civil rights protections for people with disabilities or the Older Americans Act that provides safeguards for seniors, are key policy statements that outline services and practices for people with disabilities and older adults. More recently, the Workforce Investment Opportunity Act (WIOA) requires practices that promote competitive integrated employment – or, inclusive workplaces.

Examples from the Field

Greater Portland Council of Governments (Portland, ME) used an inclusive process to develop an Inclusive Transportation Planning Toolkit. The Portland Area Comprehensive Transportation System (PACTS), the region’s Metropolitan Planning Organization, is requiring use of the Toolkit by staff and consultants. The Toolkit was shared with PACTS committee members and other stakeholders in 30 municipalities, demonstrating the widespread outcome resulting from an inclusive process.

In order to respond to lack of engagement, outreach, and cohesion around inclusive engagement, Hopelink (Bellevue, WA) set a goal to create a local resource that contains best practices for engaging special needs populations in transportation planning, including people with disabilities, limited English proficient populations, immigrants and refugees, older adults, and caregivers. Hopelink used an inclusive process to produce an Inclusive Planning Toolkit to be referenced and distributed across King County and beyond.

Neighborhood Network of Northern Nevada (Reno, NV) used a human centered design approach to address five goals, each of which had separate steering committees. The extent of inclusion was rated separately for each goal, with final overall ratings of Level 4 to Level 6, as rated by participants.