Article Title: Grant Awards

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Sept. 21, 2021

Penquis Receives Grant from U.S. Department of Transportation

Funding will expand Penquis’ rural community ride program services and hours

BANGOR, Maine (Sept. 21, 2021) – Penquis was recently selected to receive a grant of $100,000 from the National Rural Transit Assistance Program (RTAP), a program of the US Department of Transportation, Federal Transit Administration. The grant was one of nineteen awarded under the Community Rides Grant Program, which supports transportation partnerships that improve access to critical needs such as employment, healthcare, education, food, or social services, as well as build the capacity of transit programs.

With over 25 years of experience, Penquis Transportation Services is the Maine DOT Regional Transportation Provider for Penobscot and Piscataquis counties and the MaineCare Non-emergency Medical Transportation Broker for Penobscot, Piscataquis, Kennebec, and Somerset counties. Penquis’ transportation service area is primarily rural, covering nearly 7400 square miles. RTAP funding will be used to expand transit service and hours, especially during nights and weekends, using Penquis agency vehicles and volunteer drivers.

Penquis provides transportation to the general public to meet everyday needs, such as medical, employment, grocery shopping, personal errands, and socialization. Penquis serves a variety of Maine residents, including older adults, veterans, and individuals with a disability, low-income, or chronic illness. Even though the program’s target population is older adults and individuals with disabilities, everyone within Penquis’ service area will benefit. Program collaborators include hospitals, the Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services, and community organizations.

Penquis Transportation Services Director Steven Richard said of this award, “Our strategy is simple to understand; we need to offer transportation when people need it and right now that means later in the day and on the weekends. The flexibility of this award will allow us to hire additional drivers, promote the program through our community partners, while adding evening and weekend hours. This will help many people get to work and meet other vital transportation needs. This is a big win for our community.”

Penquis and its programs have been continually recognized for their quality and innovation. Awards received include a 2018 Nonprofit of the Year Award from the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce and the best Rural Community Transportation System of the Year (2018) award from the Community Transportation Association of America.

ABOUT PENQUIS: Established in 1967, Penquis is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to supporting Maine families in becoming healthy, safe, connected, and financially secure. Penquis is Maine’s largest community action agency with more than 50 programs serving primarily low- and moderate-income individuals in Penobscot, Piscataquis and Knox counties, with an even broader impact across all 16 counties and through its more than 500 community partnerships. Penquis programs focus on 5 areas: affordable housing, economic security, school readiness, reliable transportation, and healthy lives. Penquis touches the lives of approximately 6,000 people per day and more than 30,000 each year.

ABOUT NATIONAL RTAP: Our overarching mission is to address the training and technical assistance needs of rural, and tribal transit operators across the nation, and to support the state RTAP programs. Transit is a real solution to maintaining a high quality of life in rural areas—providing access to jobs, healthcare, education, shopping and numerous other activities utilizing public transportation.

Since 1979, FTA has provided formula funding to states, under the Section 5311 Non-Urbanized Transit Program, to establish and maintain transit systems in communities with populations under 50,000. Program founders recognized that community transit drivers, dispatchers, maintenance workers, managers and board members needed special skills and knowledge to provide quality service to their diverse customers across large service areas. As a result, the Rural Transit Assistance Program (RTAP) was created in 1987.