RTA is starting a pilot program with the Cuyahoga County Board of Health to provide access to transportation to new and expectant mothers. RTA Planning Team Leader Amy Snell provides more details:
The Baby on Board Program is a brand new initiative between the Greater Cleveland RTA and the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, funded by the Ohio Department of Transportation. This program is aimed to reduce infant mortality rates by improving bus stop amenities and providing free rides to expectant and new mothers in 3 east side zip codes: 44108, 44110, and 44112.
The social demographics of these zip codes are predominately African American communities, with high factors of distress, including low income, low educational attainment, and high unemployment. In fact, over 30% of the households are without a vehicle, relying on public transit for food, education, job, and health access.
Through collaborative research with Ohio Equity Institute (OEI), it identified that 85% of the women in the three-targeted zip codes identified transportation as a barrier to accessing healthcare, with over 50% missed appointments. Particularly, the highest infant mortality rate of 28.23% is located in 44110.
With Baby on Board, women and families will be receiving transit passes so they can reduce the cost burden of going to all medical appointments necessary for a healthy baby and healthy mother. In addition, a portion of the funds will be used to improve bus stop amenities – targeting stops near medical and family facilities, such as daycares, libraries, and grocery stores. These upgraded amenities are not limited to shelters, additional seating, lighting, and sidewalk connections.
With this newly established partnership between RTA, CCBH, and their local neighborhood health partners, RTA hopes that this is just the beginning of prioritizing equitable health and eliminate transit barriers for one of our most vulnerable population, children.