ECR Transportation Gap Study
Faculty researchers and University of Iowa students collaborated with an Eastern Iowa regional provider, ECR, on a study to close transportation gaps for individuals with brain health/mental health needs and disabilities.
Access to transportation services, support, and infrastructure contribute significantly to an individual's overall health and well-being. For individuals with brain health conditions or disabilities, planning and completing trips can be difficult or impossible without the proper systems in place. Creating and sustaining systems that meet the needs of these individuals is a complex task.
This is especially true across large and diverse geographic areas such as the region served by the Mental Health/Disabilities Services of the East Central Region (ECR). This nine-county region (including Benton, Bremer, Buchanan, Delaware, Dubuque, Iowa, Johnson, Jones, and Linn Counties) includes a mix urban and rural communities and varying levels of transportation services.
To best serve the transportation needs for individuals with brain health/mental health needs across the region, ECR partnered with the University of Iowa to conduct an analysis of existing gaps in transportation services and to identify opportunities to increase access to essential services and other unmet needs.
The study was conducted in multiple phases between January 2022 and August 2023. Final recommendations address potential actions both for ECR specifically and for key partners across the region.
A faculty and staff research team led the focus group research process and survey design and served as advisors for student contributors. A graduate research assistant contributed throughout the process, primarily with analysis of data from the focus groups and survey.
Students in the planning Transportation Research Methods & Analysis course developed a regional profile, inventory of mobility-related services, and GIS-based transportation service analysis. As part of their Spring 2023 graduate capstone course, a team of Master of Public Affairs students researched case studies, engaged with service providers, and developed recommendations and strategies. That work continued into the Summer 2023 Transportation Planning Studio course, in which students delved further into service provider engagement and potential strategies.