Understanding Transportation Grants and Resources: A Guide to Mobility Assistance

When it comes to transportation, having access to reliable and affordable modes of travel is crucial for everyone. Unfortunately, not all citizens have equal access to transportation due to geographical, economic, or other challenges. However, there are several private and public resources and grants available to help low-income and underserved communities with their mobility and transportation needs. In this guide, we’ll explore some of the transportation grants and resources you should be aware of to help you get the transportation assistance you need.


1. Public Transportation Grants
The Federal Transit Administration provides several grants to support public transportation systems in the United States. These include the Section 5310 Grant Program, which provides funding for accessibility programs targeting seniors and individuals with disabilities, and the Section 5311 Rural Area Formula Grant Program, which supports public transportation services in rural areas. Additionally, the Job Access and Reverse Commute (JARC) and New Freedom programs provide grants to help low-income individuals access job opportunities and other essential services.


2. Private Grants and Resources:
Many non-profit organizations and foundations provide transportation grants and resources for low-income people and underserved communities. For example, the CARS (Charitable Assistance to Restore Mobility) program, run by 1-800-Charity Cars, provides free cars to veterans, victims of natural disasters, and other eligible low-income individuals. Other organizations like the National Aging and Disability Transportation Center (NADTC), the National Council on Aging (NCOA), and the Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) offer resources and expertise to improve the accessibility and affordability of transportation for seniors, people with disabilities, and low-income families.


3. State and Local Assistance Programs
Several states and local governments offer transportation programs to help people with mobility challenges. For example, the California Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) provides subsidized transportation to help eligible low-income households with their energy bills. Similarly, the Massachusetts Mobility Assistance Program (MAP) helps elderly and disabled residents of the state with transportation to medical appointments and social services.


4. Crowdfunding and Ridesharing Services
If you’re unable to find public or private assistance programs, there are other ways to get help with transportation costs. Crowdfunding platforms like GoFundMe and Kickstarter enable you to raise money from friends, family, and acquaintances to cover your transportation expenses. Additionally, you can use ridesharing services like Uber or Lyft to get affordable rides to work, school, or other destinations. Some of these companies also have programs aimed at providing transportation assistance to low-income riders or people with disabilities.


5. Planning and Advocacy Resources
If you’re not familiar with transportation grants and resources, planning and advocacy resources like the National Center for Transportation Systems Productivity and Management (NCTSPM) or the Transportation Research Board (TRB) can help you understand the options available to you. These organizations provide research, training, and technical assistance to improve transportation safety, efficiency, and sustainability in communities across the United States.


Reliable and affordable transportation is essential for mobility and quality of life, but it remains a challenge for many Americans, especially low-income and underserved communities. However, thanks to the various public and private grants, resources, and assistance programs available, getting the transportation help you need is no longer out of reach. Whether you’re looking for free cars or reduced fares, there are many options to help you overcome the barriers to transportation and get you where you need to go. Be sure to do your research, explore all your options, and take advantage of the resources available to you.