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Dona Ana County, NM

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2020

Project Category: Public or private transit access

Description: Founded in 2016, the South Central Transit District serves a largely rural area in New Mexico's Mesilla Valley. Before its launch, no public transportation services covered this part of the state. Despite the area's hot summer temperatures, few of the District's bus stops had amenities aimed at helping transit riders wait comfortably. To fix this, the District added two dozen benches and four bus shelters in several communities, including Anthony, Chaparral, Sunland Park and Hatch. District staff constructed concrete pads for the benches, which sit in high traffic areas. The work represents the first phase of improvements to stops -- the District plans to add LED lighting to increase safety for riders. Project organizers say the shelters and benches are popular with students and older adults, who make up a large share of the transit system's ridership.

Jackson, TN

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2020

Project Category: Public or private transit access

Description: The City of Jackson wanted to help riders predict when to expect their bus. To do this, City installed transit routers on buses to provide real-time information about arrival and departure times. That allows passengers to track buses through a smartphone app. Previously, they had to access timetables through PDF maps or by calling the Jackson Transit Authority. Project organizers say up-to-date information about arrival times helps residents avoid long waits at the bus stop, with are difficult for older adults and families with small children. The app also allows riders to pay bus fares online -- before they had to purchase tickets with exact change at the bus depot. Since the app's launch, the City of Jackson plans to improve bus stops, introduce a mobile fare payment and help the transit authority track bus ridership.

Ft. Defiance, AZ

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2021

Project Category: Public or private transit access

Description: Many Navajo Nation residents rely on public transit to get around the vast, rural reservation. The Navajo United Way, in partnership with the Navajo Transit System, installed much-needed bus shelters at key points along the system's bus routes. The shelters provide riders with shade from the hot Arizona sun and protection from the elements, including rain and wind. In addition to seating, the shelters include solar panels, which provide power for charging phones. Project organizers report they've seen an increase in ridership since the shelters went in.

Nearby AARP Community Challenge Projects

Washington, DC

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2020

Project Category: Capturing data and feedback from residents

Description: The 1882 Foundation hoped to strengthen community identity and increase civic engagement in DC's Chinatown, particularly among older adults. The Foundation designed a digital map featuring stories about places with historical and cultural significance to the neighborhood's longtime community members, including past and present residents and leaders. The Foundation distributed storytelling kits, which included tools to help participants tell their stories by writing and recording audio. Project organizers provided storytellers with bilingual instructions in English and Mandarin. To promote the initiative, the Foundation held a Mid-Autumn Festival event at the Wah Luck House, an affordable housing complex. Organizers say the digital platform will help inform urban planning policies by ensuring community priorities are included in redevelopment proposals for Chinatown.

Washington, DC

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2018

Project Category: Engaging people in transportation options/safety

Description: To increase older adults' mobility, the Capitol Hill Village worked to raise residents' awareness of the local transportation offerings. The nonprofit offered social events and educational programming to teach more than 100 residents how to get around without driving. The trainings covered pedestrian safety and provided older adults with in-depth information on transportation services, including the Metrorail system, Capital Bikeshare and local paratransit service. Project organizers say participants increased their knowledge of and confidence using local transportation options.

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