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MST Moves Forward with New Measure Q Goals

Since Measure Q took effect on July 1, 2015, more than 1.3 million seniors, veterans and individuals with disabilities have traveled on services funded by the 15-year, 1/8-cent local sales tax.

MST took Measure Q to voters in 2014, after other organizations launched four unsuccessful attempts to raise local sales taxes to fund a variety of local road and transit projects. Measure Q passed with 72 percent approval, setting the stage for ambitious, innovative programs geared toward community members in need. Riders embraced the services from the start. Annual boardings on services funded by Measure Q increased from approximately 200,000 in the first year to 344,000 just five years later – a 72% increase.

The sales tax supports a variety of programs and mobility services. These include fixed routes designed specifically for seniors and veterans, reduced fare taxi vouchers for eligible residents, free transit passes for veterans, travel training to help people learn how to use transit, and the MST RIDES program for persons with disabilities.

One recent investment of Measure Q funds was the implementation of the Rapid Response paratransit emergency response program in June 2020. That software package was instrumental in helping emergency personnel understand the location of residents with access and functional needs, so that teams could provide evacuation assistance when numerous wildfires threatened populated areas of Monterey County in August. With the assistance of this software, MST was able to quickly respond and evacuate 22 elderly and disabled individuals from the Rippling River Assisted Living Center in Carmel Valley Village as uncontrolled fires approached.

“As officials announced evacuation zones for the River and Carmel fires, we recreated the borders on our Rapid Response map and identified the locations of registered MST RIDES participants. MST coordinated with Cal Fire and local public safety officials to quickly move those persons with disabilities to safe shelter,” says MST Contract Transportation Supervisor Marzette Henderson, who oversaw the evacuation.

Henderson calls Rapid Response an important tool in the agency’s disaster-response belt.

“This software enabled staff to identify in minutes the folks that needed help. Done manually, that would have taken hours,” he says.

In early 2021, MST’s Mobility Advisory Committee and Board of Directors will approve Measure Q goals for the next five years.

“Measure Q provides freedom and improves quality of life for vulnerable members of our community,” says Henderson. “When individuals have improved access to health care, education and essential services, it builds their confidence and helps them live fuller, more satisfying lives.”

Mobility Services

Mobility

Other Accomplishments Supported By Measure Q

2017: Reduced fares by 50% for MST RIDES ADA paratransit passengers, generating a 40% increase in ridership among eligible seniors and individuals with disabilities2017: Implemented Line 61, the veterans’ shuttle that connects Salinas and the Major General William H. Gourley VA-DoD Outpatient Clinic

2018: Worked with Hacienda Carmel to modify and expand Senior Shuttle services (Lines 91 and 92)

2019: MST opened the Salinas Mobility Services Center. Using simulated street scenes with real buses, signage and sidewalks, passengers can practice navigating the MST system before they travel. Customers can also confirm MST RIDES eligibility at the center.

2020: Re-established shuttle service from Marina to the VA Palo Alto Health Care System, after COVID-19 paused the volunteer-run program

Proposed Measure Q Programs
for FY 2021–2025

(subject to approval by the Mobility Advisory Committee
and MST Board of Directors)

FY 2021

• Develop a universal, contactless fare alternative to paper vouchers, cash and coins on MST’s fixed-route lines (in progress, as part of the Cal-ITP demonstration – see contactless fare story), and expand the contactless fare system to MST’s taxi voucher program for seniors, veterans and individuals with disabilities

• Enhance medical access for veterans by creating more frequent direct service from the Monterey Peninsula to the VA Palo Alto Health Care System

• Review and modify MST’s Senior Shuttle program to increase ridership and improve service

FY 2022

• Expand contactless fare program to MST RIDES

FY 2023–2025

• Improve on-demand services for seniors and individuals with disabilities living in South Monterey County

• Explore the creation of subsidies or transit support for meal deliveries to seniors and individuals with disabilities to reduce food insecurity and lower mobility expenses