Equitable Vaccine Distribution? Leverage Existing Transit Infrastructure.

In the months since the COVID vaccination efforts kicked off in the state, we’ve made enormous strides – over half of Colorado’s state population has been at least partially vaccinated to date, and community vaccine sites are emerging thanks in large part to organizations and leaders championing the cause.  While there may no longer be eligibility and appointment restrictions, other barriers keep our metro Denver residents from getting vaccines. More recently as more people have gotten vaccinated, demand has declined, and dose availability has increased, a default narrative is taking center stage: that those who remain unvaccinated are choosing not to be so. However, the reality is that many of our Black, Brown, Indigenous and other People of Color (BBIPOC) and low-income community residents do not have transport options that are affordable, accessible, or reliable to get to and from vaccine sites. In fact, many residents that are looking for a vaccine are also looking for a ride.

As we reimagine recovery and revolutionize how we use the built environment to support public health and community well-being, we encourage going further in leveraging existing infrastructure to better connect services to the people.

Thanks to an analysis (see below for link) of RTD’s Park-n-Ride (PNR)s, we have a better understanding where the need is and what locations would best serve those who are hardest to reach. PNR locations are suitable for semi-permanent vaccine sites because they are accessible by public transit, car, and other micro-mobility options, they have established infrastructure such as protected areas, utility connections and waste management services, and they tap into and enhance existing infrastructure to meet the moment and ensure access to services as a public health necessity. The report’s author, Luna Hoopes, identified 36 PNR sites as eligible for semi-permanent vaccine operations to serve our low-income and BBIPOC communities who often rely on public transit, have been disproportionately impacted by COVID and will likely need a more sustained rollout due to other access issues and potential need for booster shots.

While this analysis show gaps in vaccine site distribution as a snapshot in time and the landscape is evolving rapidly as we move away from mass vaccination sites to community-based locations, it reveals a strategic and timely opportunity to provide easily accessible vaccine sites through existing infrastructure.  In Covina, CA, the Foothills Transit agency had built a three-level bus depot and PNR garage last March just before COVID hit. The transit agency pivoted to use this new space to provide an easily accessible location for transit riders to get vaccinated. They also “wanted a location that would support the community where this transit center is located.” Across the country, at least 450 public transportation providers are providing free transit to vaccination sites, according to those behind the VaxTransit campaign aimed as providing those without transportation access to vaccines.

We know that transit agencies across the country have been rocked by devastating loss of riders, issues hiring bus and train operators, and an unpredictable future as we climb out of the pandemic mess. Instead of continuing to place more of a burden on RTD to go out of its way to transport people to vaccine sites, why not bring the two services together and remove that additional burden from RTD? We can partner with vaccine operators to utilize RTD’s existing infrastructure to reach more people and take advantage of existing opportunity. By placing one service near another service, the resulting proximity and ease will allow more equitable access to those who most need and deserve it, and give more residents a fair shot at getting a shot.

What to Know About RTD’s Income-Based Discount Program: LiVE

illustration by Dion Harris

As our communities recover, we have an eye on those most adversely impacted by COVID-19, the economic downturn, and inequitable systems. Prior to the pandemic, low-income riders made up about half of RTD transit riders, and those who continue to rely on public transportation are mostly Black, Brown, Indigenous, other people of color and low-income workers. Building on our advocacy work from years past to help establish an income-based discount program within RTD, we want to be sure this resource is known widely in community and accessible to those who qualify – especially now.

Before the pandemic hit, we were working with community partners to inform transit riders of this new income-based discount fare program, and had to shift to virtual engagement as lockdown measures were put in place. In doing so, Mile High Connects partnered with the Denver Regional Metro Council of Governments (DRMAC), Denver Human Services (DHS) and RTD to provide virtual trainings on this program, specifically on eligibility requirements, the application process, and how to use the discount program once you have qualified.

Below is a library of training materials, including recorded videos and printed training materials in English and Spanish, detailing RTD’s LiVE program. We encourage you to share widely with your networks.

RTD LiVE Discount Fare: Eligibility & Application

Travel Training: Lyft Shared Scooters and Discounts

Join Mile High Connects, DRMAC and Lyft to learn about how to get around the Denver Metro area safely, knowledgably, and affordably. Latoya Prante will walk us through the various ways to get around, and how to plan your trips. This is the final training of six in a series.

In this session, you will learn:
– Lyft shared scooters
– How to download the Lyft app
– How to purchase / unlock shared scooters
– How to safely ride a scooter
– Lyft area restrictions
– Lyft discount Community Pass program

Please register for this event by clicking on the website URL below.

Travel Training: How to Ride RTD

Join Mile High Connects & DRMAC to learn about how to get around the Denver Metro area safely, knowledgably, and affordably. Latoya Prante will walk us through the various ways to get around, and how to plan your trips. This is the fifth training of six in a series.

In this session, you will learn:
– A review of how to purchase tickets
– How to board RTD buses & trains
– How to use RTD bike racks
– Fare inspections
– Bus & train safety

Please register for this event by clicking on the website URL below.

Travel Training: RTD ‘LiVE’ – How to Use

Join Mile High Connects & RTD to learn how to use your discount LiVE card once you have been approved for the program and your card has been mailed to you. This is the fourth training of six in a series.

In this session, you will learn:
– What the LiVE discount program is
– What to expect once you have submitted your LiVE application
– What you do once you receive the LiVE card & how to use
– How to replace your LiVE card

Please register for this event by clicking on the website URL below.

Travel Training: RTD ‘LiVE’ – How to Apply

Join Mile High Connects & Denver Human Services to learn more about RTD’s income-eligible discount program, LiVE. David Taylor of DHS will walk us through how to know if you’re eligible for LiVE, what documentation you need to apply, and how to complete the application process. This is the third training of six in a series.

In this session, you will learn:
– What the LiVE discount program is
– LiVE Eligibility
– LiVE Application Requirements
– How to Apply for LiVE

Please register for this event by clicking on the website URL below.

Travel Training: RTD Fares and Ticketing

Join Mile High Connects & DRMAC to learn about how to get around the Denver Metro area safely, knowledgably, and affordably. Latoya Prante will walk us through the various ways to get around, and how to plan your trips. This is the second training of six in a series.

In this session, you will learn:
– Fares, fare zones and costs
– RTD discount programs
– How to purchase tickets
– How to use the RTD ticketing app

Please register by clicking on the website URL below.

Travel Training: Intro to RTD

Join Mile High Connects and Denver Regional Mobility Access Council (DRMAC) to learn:

  • What is RTD?
  • How to plan a trip
  • How to read a schedule
  • How to find a bus or train
  • How to stay safe

Please register by clicking the website URL below.

Get on the Bus: Transit Justice Forum

With a new President, Congress, and transportation secretary, the discussion around the future of public transit has dramatically shifted since the beginning of the year and we feel optimistic about future funding. But what happens if transit agencies, like our own Regional Transportation District, do get a significant influx of funding? Will we see transit agencies continue spending money on shiny, expensive capital projects that serve a fraction of the population? Or will transit agencies prioritize ridership by making cost-effective investments – like expanded bus service – that will quickly boost access to frequent, reliable transit service?

Join us for a community conversation with thought leaders, transit users, advocates and decision makers to imagine what is possible for with a significant amount of federal funding for transit in our region.

Bike Mobility Across Denver + Mexico City

Denver_portal: Ciclovías: Bike Mobility Across the Americas

Join us for another episode of Denver_portal programming as we explore "Ciclovías"--urban bike lane infrastructure--and other mobility models from across the Americas. Learn how places like Mexico City are leading the way in pedestrian and bike lane expansion projects and how Denver leaders are getting creative to meet our city's mobility needs. The Denver_portal programming is a collaboration between the Biennial of the Americas and Shared_Studios. Moderator: Deyanira “Deya” Zavala (Denver, CO) Executive Director, Mile High Connects As Executive Director, Deyanira Zavala leads the development and implementation of Mile High Connects’ strategic direction. She is responsible for fundraising and relationship management to advance the Mile High Connects collective priorities. Prior to joining Mile High Connects, Deyanira dedicated her career to supporting aspiring Black, Latinx and immigrant entrepreneurs in Colorado and Texas as a pathway to community asset & wealth building. She also brings national experience having worked with NALCAB- National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders, where she facilitated a variety of community economic development projects in support of member organizations, including resource development and capacity building activities. Deyanira is the first in her family to graduate from high school and college, holding a Masters of Public Administration from the University of North Texas and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Texas at Arlington. Deyanira is trained Technology of Participation (ToP) facilitator and alumni of the NALCAB Fellowship and Young Nonprofit Professionals Network Elevate Fellowship programs. She currently serves on the RTD Accountability Committee, Reimagine RTD Community Advisory Group, and the Denver COVID-19 Mobility Task Force. Jill Locantore (Denver, CO) Executive Director, Denver Streets Partnership Jill Locantore is Executive Director of the Denver Streets Partnership, a coalition of community groups advocating for people-friendly streets. Previously, Jill was the Executive Director of the pedestrian advocacy organization WalkDenver, which merged with Bicycle Colorado in 2020 to fully staff the Denver Streets Partnership as a division of Bicycle Colorado focused on reclaiming Denver’s streets for people. Jill also worked previously for the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments where she supported regional efforts to coordinate land use and transportation planning. Throughout her planning career, Jill has focused on the intersection of land use and transportation with environmental sustainability, economic development, public health, and social justice issues, and has built a reputation as an important advocate and spokesperson for human-centered transportation and its key role in building healthy communities. Jill has a Masters degree in community planning from the University of Maryland, as well as a Masters degree in cognitive psychology from the University of Toronto. Areli Carreón (Mexico City, Mexico) Areli is a longtime activist and a founder of Bicitekas A.C., an organization that promotes the use of bicycles in Mexico City and lobbies for policy change around cycling and urban mobility. Areli studied Rural Development at the UAM Xochimilco She’s an environmentalist, founding member of Bicitekas A.C. and currently serves as the “Bike Mayor” of #CDMX, an honorary position created by the Dutch innovation lab BYCS in order to promote cycling around the world. Their goal is to create a network of 100 bicycle mayors who shift urban traveling to more than 50% by bike by the year 2030. Ivan de la Lanza (Mexico City, Mexico) Iván is the Active Mobility Manager at WRI México - Ciudades. He’s in charge of supplying technical advice and managing the cities for the development of pedestrian projects, cycling, and micro-mobility, as part of the integrated transportation network, public spaces recovery, and safety. Previously, he was the Manager of Culture, Design and Cycling Infrastructure in CDMX, an area specifically created for the implementation of the Bicycle Mobility Strategy, which was responsible for the implementation of the system of public bikes EcoBici, the building of ciclovias and bike parking, as well as operating the “Sunday Ride” and “Bike Schools”. He has a Degree in Administration at the UVM and has participated as a panelist in several forums and international conferences. See Less

Posted by Biennial of the Americas on Thursday, August 13, 2020

Mile High Connects & local partner Denver Streets Partnership joined Biennial of the Americas and Shared Studios for a special conversation on “Ciclovias” and mobility models from across the Americas. Share what you learned from the session with us!

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