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NEWS RELEASE
The Ohio Department of Transportation & The Office of Governor Bob Taft
February 24, 2004

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TAFT COMMENDS ODOT FOR RECEIVING NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION RECOGNITION

COLUMBUS (February 24, 2004) - Governor Bob Taft today commended the Ohio Department of Transportation for receiving national recognition for excellence in improving transportation for older adults, people with disabilities, and low-income families. U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta presented Ohio and four other states with United We Ride Leadership Awards at a ceremony Monday evening. The annual award, presented by the U.S. Department of Transportation, recognizes state transportation departments that have provided exceptional coordination of human services transportation.

"Ohio's transportation department has developed excellent innovative programs that serve as an example to other states in the pursuit of solutions to transportation challenges," said Taft. "Ohio's transportation programs truly serve average citizens and the people who rely on them the most. I'm pleased ODOT has been nationally recognized for leading the way in creating and maintaining exceptional coordinated transportation services to serve all Ohioans."

The awards are part of a new multi-agency federal initiative - United We Ride - sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation and its partners at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Education. United We Ride is a five-part initiative that encourages the coordination of transportation services for people to access health care, employment and employment-related services and other community resources. The awards this year recognized Ohio as well as Florida, Maryland, North Carolina, and Washington.

The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Transit Administrator Jennifer Dorn commended ODOT for being a leader in coordinating transportation services for nearly three decades. "ODOT, through its Office of Transit, has been a leader in developing and maintaining transportation systems to serve people in cases where more traditional transportation sources are inadequate," said Dorn.

ODOT has worked with the Ohio Departments of Aging, Jobs and Family Services, Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, Mental Health, Education, and the Rehabilitation Services Commission to increase transportation services available to people with disabilities, and the elderly and low-income individuals. Additionally, ODOT has developed a manual of steps to create successful statewide transportation coordination programs titled "A Guide to Implementing Coordinated Transportation Systems," recognized nationally as one of the best sources on the topic by other state transportation departments.

Ohio is one of only five states to provide financial incentives for transportation coordination, and has awarded more than $6.3 million to 37 projects for the coordination of transportation services. Under the department's leadership, the number of counties with no public transit system or transportation coordination projects has decreased from 42 to 14. In 2004, ODOT awarded $1.3 million to 19 transportation coordination projects in Ohio.