LCOG expands veterans-focused transit

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U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood helped Lowcountry veterans and military families when he announced that the team of Lowcountry Council of Governments (LCOG) and Lowcountry Regional Transportation Authority (LRTA, which runs Palmetto Breeze) had been awarded a Veterans Transportation and Community Living Initiative.  Selected in a process described by the secretary’s office as “highly competitive,” the LCOG/Palmetto Breeze application was the only one selected in South Carolina, and there was only one in Georgia as well.
“We are really excited,” commented LCOG planning director Ginnie Kozak, “both about being selected and being able to provide much-needed transportation services to veterans and military families in our four counties.”
The team was awarded the full amount requested — $124,480 — to meet the objectives of their proposal, titled,  “Expanding the Lowcountry Human Services Transportation Coordination Program to Include Veterans-Focused Transit.”
Since the key requirement of the program is that the funds be used for technology, this grant will be used to purchase an Automated Vehicle Location/ Mobile Data Computer module utilizing tablet computers.  This module will interface with the existing system and with the tablets to provide a mobile solution that will enable operational and veteran customer service enhancements to the existing One Call/One Click Center housed at Palmetto Breeze.
This is an expansion of what has already been accomplished within the Lowcountry as the Coordination Plan is being implemented.  A mobility manager is employed full-time by Palmetto Breeze and is charged with moving implementation activities forward; the position includes both technology management and outreach to individuals and organizations in the region.
Another feature of the added technology will be a Customer Portal.  It will allow Lowcountry veterans and other customers to book, view, edit, and cancel their own trips through a secure Internet portal and mobile phone application, ensuring 24/7 customer support and reducing incoming call volumes.  Interfacing with the existing system, the customer portal will permit customer trip requests to be scheduled directly to a vehicle or placed in a queue for staff to review before scheduling — helping to ensure authenticity.

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