Community stakeholders and other neighboring transit agencies and jurisdictions wanted to be involved in the conversation about how to improve mobility in the greater Prince William Area. To address that OmniRide has implemented three Mobility Councils: Vanpool Council, Employer Council and Hispanic Council. The councils further the agency’s strategic goals of developing partnerships, but also are designed to serve as a forum for information sharing and the generation of ideas for service improvements and new program elements. The councils usually meet semi-annually and as an example, Vanpool Council discussion led to the development of a vanpool parking subsidy program that will be one of the agency’s I-66 Commuter Choice program applications. More specific information on the councils:
PRTC runs one of the largest vanpool incentive programs in the nation in Vanpool Alliance. This program which supports hundreds of vans with a monthly payment also generates millions in revenue for transit in the region. This Vanpool Council was created to garner the input of regional stakeholders, vanpool providers and interested members of the public regarding the operations of PRTC’s Vanpool Alliance program. In addition the group helps set regional policy on vanpooling by coming up with ideas that can lead to grant applications to enhance the appeal of vanpools and increase their number in Northern Virginia to help decrease single occupancy vehicles.
This council seeks to engage employers both large and small within the OmniRide service area and advise them on the ways in which they can improve access to their businesses and make it more desirable for their employees to work at companies in Prince William County, by improving transportation options. This includes awareness of bus routes, ridematching, and telework amongst many offerings. The ultimate goal of this council is meet our employers where they are, have an honest discussion about their needs and then work with them to set agency policy for our services going forward. That could include anything from altering and adding bus routes to entirely new modes of service such as TNC’s (Transportation Network Companies) that give greater flexibly where large buses are not a practical solution.
According to the Department of Economic Development, approximately one-fifth (22%) of Prince William County’s population is Hispanic, and nearly one-third (30%) of the population speaks a language other than English. Moreover, the Hispanic population is the fastest growing population in the United States. It can be expected that a growing number of riders will want or need Spanish-language resources. It is with that in mind that the Hispanic council was created. It seeks to engage Hispanic owned and operated businesses and community groups as well as the general public to help serve this growing portion of the Omniride service area. The meetings discuss transportation options as they specifically pertain to the needs of the Hispanic community and also opportunities to increase partnerships and help set agency policy so that OmniRide can better serve this demographic.