Thursday, January 23, 2020
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UCHRA Eyes Grant Funding For On-Demand Transportation

The UCHRA will look at launching an on-demand transportation program.

Executive Director Mark Farley said the microtransit system would be similar to Uber and Lyft.

“It’s not that we’re wanting to compete with them, but obviously, some of the clientele that we deal with, it’s hard to serve them when you’re looking at that 48-hour notice,” Farley said. “We’ve got to figure out a way that we can serve this hardest hit population and be able to do that pretty rapidly without being delayed.”

The agency’s current transit system requires customers to give 48-hours notice before scheduling a trip. UCHRA Executive Committee members voted Wednesday to apply for a TDOT grant to help fund the project.

“Obviously, we would start this out in just one of the communities to see how it goes,” Farley said. “It’s something we want to propose to TDOT.”

Farley said the grant funding would purchase vehicles and a software package for the program. The agency has applied for a total of $330,000.

The UCHRA hopes to accomplish two other projects through the same TDOT grant program. A submission for $240,000 would help build new bus shelters in Algood, Cookeville, Crossville, and McMinnville.

The agency will also request funding for purchasing the old UCHRA office on South Jefferson Avenue. Farley said the building would serve as a new transportation hub.

“I’ll be honest, that’s going to be a long shot. That’s going to be the hailmary of the three when we put that out there,” Farley said. “But we feel like from a fiduciary role it makes sense to try that.”