Wolf Administration News Wolf Administration Urges Pennsylvanians to Review Transit Options and Apply for Transportation Assistance Programs, Highlights Importance of Access to Health Care and Jobs Officials from the Pennsylvania departments of Transportation (PennDOT) and Human Services (DHS) today urged Pennsylvanians to use Find My Ride (FMR) to learn about public transit options and apply for transportation assistance programs. The participants underscored transit’s critical role in getting people to work and medical appointments while connecting them to their communities. Public transportation services are available in every county in Pennsylvania, including: Shared ride service in all 67 counties;Fixed route bus service in 49 counties; andFixed route rail service in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. “Transit provides a vital connection to jobs, to medical appointments, and to our communities,” said PennDOT Deputy Secretary for Multimodal Transportation Jennie Louwerse. “We urge Pennsylvanians to try transit, and we’re excited that it’s now easier to access these services.” Citizens are encouraged to use FMR Apply, an online tool which was developed collaboratively with transit agencies and streamlines the application process for the five largest transportation assistance programs in the state, including the Senior Shared Ride program, the Medical Assistance Transportation Program (MATP), ADA complementary paratransit, the Persons with Disabilities program and the Free Transit Program. Additionally, FMR Apply allows third-parties, such as a family member or healthcare provider, to apply for services on behalf of a rider. Collectively, 24.4 million trips supported by these programs were provided to Pennsylvanians in the 2020-21 fiscal year. An additional 141 million trips – including 17.7 million free senior trips – were provided through fixed route service in the 2020-21 fiscal year. Since the rollout of FMR Apply in May 2021 via transit agencies, assistance-program applications have been processed for nearly 8,000 Pennsylvanians and benefits to transit agencies, PennDOT, DHS, and customers have been considerable. Customers do not need to determine what programs they are eligible for, and this, coupled with the user-friendly application has resulted in an increase in applications submitted. Automatic data validation within the application has resulted in improved data accuracy, saving transit agencies time and money in processing applications. Transit agencies can process applications more efficiently, which allows transit users to access benefits more quickly. “The Wolf Administration is always working to make the services we provide easier to access for the people we serve, and the Find My Ride tool is an excellent example of collaboration between state agencies in making this happen,” said Andrew Barnes, Deputy Executive Secretary for DHS. “Nobody should let a lack of transportation keep you from getting to a doctor’s appointment or filling your prescription. I encourage anyone who needs transportation to their physician, pharmacy, dentist, or other necessary medical services to apply today.” DHS’ MATP program provides non-emergency medical transportation for Medicaid-eligible consumers who do not have access to transportation. MATP funds more than 9 million trips annually, and each county provides the type of transportation that is the least expensive while still meeting an individual’s needs. Contact information specific to each county MATP provider can be found at matp.pa.gov. Accessibility was a key focus when developing FMR Apply, with emphasis on validating color contrast, use of captions, use of assistive reader devices, sentence length, and reading level to evaluate the forms accessibility. User feedback has been extremely positive and has been demonstrated by the continuous increase in online applications. FMR Apply leverages Keystone Login, a single, secure user credential that can be used to log into multiple Commonwealth online services. The team that developed FMR Apply was recently recognized with a Governor’s Award for Excellence. Find My Ride’s education and application modules were developed over two years, made possible by $1 million from the Federal Transit Administration and $1 million in state transit funding. More information on public transit and alternative transportation options like ridesharing, biking, and walking, is available on PennDOT’s website. Wolf Administration Highlights Substance Use Disorder Prevention, Education Tool for Construction Industry Today, the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) and Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) joined the Associated Pennsylvania Constructors (APC) to discuss substance use disorder (SUD) in the construction industry, highlight the importance of education and prevention for employees in this field, and to remind them of available safety resources. “While not often discussed, studies have shown that, when compared to other occupations, employees in the construction field have high rates of overdose deaths,” said DDAP Secretary Jen Smith. “The risk of on-the-job injury remedied with an opioid prescription increases the chances for those in this field to develop opioid use disorder. We must ensure that employers and employees know about every resource available to them to support individuals suffering from substance use disorder.” A recent study showed that construction workers prescribed opioids for pain had a higher risk for long‐term opioid use and for developing opioid use disorder (OUD); annually, 15% of workers who were prescribed opioids became long‐term users; and, long-term users were nearly 10 times as likely to develop OUD. “The importance of employee safety and well-being cannot be overstated,” said PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian. “We need to ensure that we are prioritizing both our employees’ physical and mental health and creating a safe work environment in an effort to prevent injuries from occurring in the first place.” The Wolf Administration’s Just Five initiative is a self-paced program designed to increase awareness, reduce stigma, and provide education about SUD prevention and treatment. It is displayed as six short learning modules that each take “just five” minutes to complete. The interactive lessons include: The Science of AddictionAre You at Risk?The Dangers of OpioidsSigns, Symptoms and TreatmentHow You Can HelpThe Gift of Recovery DDAP rolled out a version of Just Five to Pennsylvania commonwealth employees in May 2021 and an additional version of Just Five is now available to all of Pennsylvania’s workforce. Since roll out, the state-wide Just Five tool has had more than 11,000 new users and users have remained engaged with the lessons for an average of 13 minutes per session. Use of the Just Five website is completely confidential and voluntary, and no personal information regarding utilization of the program is shared. It can be accessed virtually from anywhere at any time with no registration required. The program is also available in English and Spanish and accessible for individuals with visual and/or hearing impairments. “Our members are committed to having safe workplaces and healthy and productive employees,” said Robert Latham, executive vice president of Associated Pennsylvania Constructors. “We utilize a wide variety of programs and activities aimed at employee wellness, including substance use prevention. We welcome Just Five as a new tool in the health and safety toolbox.” APC is a membership organization of more than 400 contractors, consulting engineers, material suppliers, manufacturers, and others with an interest in Pennsylvania’s road and bridge construction industry. DDAP operates the Get Help Now hotline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). The hotline is a trusted resource for individuals and/or their loved ones if substance use disorder treatment or resources are needed. The hotline is confidential, available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and staffed by trained professionals who will connect callers to resources in their community. Callers can also be connected with funding if they need help paying for treatment. To learn more about the Wolf Administration’s efforts in combating the addiction crisis, visit ddap.pa.gov.