JUNE 25, 2021

Modus – Driving Change through Transportation Equity

Leslie Neal, Founder/Executive Director, Modus

Modus has been removing barriers through innovative transportation solutions, education, and advocacy since 2016. Modus’ programs represent innovative solutions to an age-old problem. Modus’ overall objective is to ensure that not just Tulsans, but people across the country have reliable transportation so they can access the services they need to succeed and the opportunities they need to thrive.

Modus Drive is a primarily volunteer-based transportation service which ensures that individuals and their families get to their appointments consistently, on time, safely, and at no cost to the client. Modus is available for all individuals and families in the Tulsa Metro area who need a ride to their appointment-based services and are referred to Modus through a partner agency. ModusEd is an in-school transit training program that gives young people the knowledge they need to use Tulsa’s existing transit options to get to school, part-time jobs, and higher education opportunities.

Many are familiar with the terms “housing vulnerability” and “food insecurity.” An often forgotten third basic need in America is tranportation. Those who are “transportation vulnerable” become isolated in their communities, cut off from access to healthcare, social services, educational opportunities, and employment-related services.

In Tulsa, roughly 20% of the population (approximately 80,133 people) are unable to access the health services they need due to the lack of adequate transportation options in our area. Many more than that do not have access to reliable, affordable, and safe transportation to reach social service appointments, jobs, and school. Ultimately, this problem leads to poorer education outcomes, lower employment rates, and decreased physical and mental health compared to those who have reliable transportation.

Tulsa has limited public transportation options to help people get to work or needed social service agencies located in various parts of the city. For families that do not have reliable transportation, it can often take several hours on a city bus to attend one appointment. As CSC’s Tulsa Equality Indicator #53 points out (Commute Time by Mode of Transportation), those using public transit to get to work are 70% more likely to spend more than 30 minutes commuting to work than private vehicle commuters. With young children, this creates a situation that can be stressful for both the child and adult. 

For lower income Americans, this creates a negative economic feedback loop. People need access to high-quality transportation to find and retain better jobs. Indeed, several studies have shown that transit access is one of the most critical factors in determining upward mobility. Americans struggling financially are likely to have lower-than-average access to transit, but often are unable to move out of poverty because of this lack of transit. Modus addresses these issues by increasing social and economic equality.

Modus is setting the trend for equitable transportation, not only for Tulsa but for all cities with inadequate transportation options. Modus is the only nonprofit in the nation that exists solely to provide access to the social services provided by nonprofit organizations, remove obstacles for folks who experience transportation vulnerability, and reduce transportation costs for nonprofit organizations.

To learn more or to sign up to become a volunteer driver, visit modustulsa.org.

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