Northeast Minnesota Regional Transportation Coordinating Council

Page Contents

About RTCC
Arrowhead Region Transportation Providers
Volunteer Driver Agencies
Food Access Resources
Publications
More Information


About RTCC

Mission
The mission of the Arrowhead RTCC is to improve access, availability, and options for transportation services in northeastern Minnesota through improved communication, coordination, and collaboration.

For additional information about the RTCC, click on the desired topic below.

Objectives
  1. Identify unmet personal mobility needs and facilitate the development of services responsive to those needs;
  2. Identify and understand all available transportation options in the region;
  3. Increase access to services, education and centers of commerce;
  4. Increase coordination between transportation service providers;
  5. Advocate for high quality transportation services which are safe, efficient, effective, reliable and responsive to consumer needs;
  6. Increase available transportation services within the region; and
  7. Identify, support and expand best practices.

Benefits
  • Increase efficiencies that may be achieved through more grouping of individuals traveling to the same destination or reduced duplication of services and/or vehicles.
  • Enhanced access to social and health services, education and employment.
  • Improved use of resources: For example, if the same services can be provided with fewer vehicles, then funds spent on insurance and capital is reduced. Other resources that could be shared include staff training, computer software, or call center staff.
  • Coordination and collaboration can result in providing transportation in ways that contribute to livable communities and a vital economy.
Membership (2020-2021)
  • Emily Anderson, Essentia Health
  • Chris Belden (CHAIR), Duluth Transit Authority
  • Laurie Berner, Arc Northland
  • Brian Bluhm, Community Health Board
  • Marianne Bovee, Age Well Arrowhead
  • Renee Bymark, ElderCircle
  • Kirsten Cruikshank, Arrowhead AAA
  • Marie Domiano, NE MN Office of Job Training
  • Jessica Globe, Aitkin County
  • Lisa Hanson, Lake County PHHS
  • Jill Hatfield, Volunteer Services of Carlton County
  • Karen Herman, UDAC
  • Mark Lessard, Koochiching Veterans Services
  • Brandon Nurmi (VICE-CHAIR), Arrowhead Transit
  • Toni Rothmeier, Pinewood
  • Jennie Rowland, Bois Forte Band of Chippewa
  • Tim Schmutzer, PHASE
  • Rinna Waters, ODC – Itasca County
  • Scott Zahorik, AEOA
Meetings

Arrowhead RTCC meets the second Monday of every month. All meetings are currently held via Zoom.
Next meeting is October 14th, 2020

Past meeting notes (Coming soon!)

Title VI Statement

(Coming soon!)

Northeast Minnesota RTCC is one of several RTCCs across Minnesota. To learn more, visit the Minnesota Council on Transportation Access (MCOTA).


Arrowhead Region Transportation Providers

(Coming soon!)

Looking for transit in your area? Check out MnDOT’s Map of Statewide Transit Services.


Volunteer Driver Agencies

To learn about volunteer drivers in northeast Minnesota, click on the desired topic below.

Message of Value

Volunteer drivers are a key component of human services transportation in Minnesota. They provide a low-cost form of transportation for people that need services provided by these organizations in situations where other forms of transit would be less cost-effective and/or provide a lower level of service.

A wide variety of organizations utilize volunteer drivers. These include counties and other local governments, human service providers, public transit providers, faith-based organizations, and other non-profit organizations. Not surprisingly, given the wide variety of organizations, they also provide a wide variety of trips, ranging from non-emergency medical appointments to trips to work or school, to general errands or other unspecified purposes. While most of the organizations that utilize volunteer drivers are located in small towns or rural areas where dedicated transit services do not exist, many are located in urban areas as well.

To support the volunteer driver programs, the Minnesota Council on Transportation Access (MCOTA) has studied the benefits and costs of the programs to the State and conducted a Volunteer Forum in early 2018 to share best practices and identify issues and solutions for maintaining this valuable network in Minnesota. One of the findings of the Volunteer Forum was the need for ongoing support at the local level in attempting to address many of the issues facing Volunteer Driver Programs. It was identified that the RTCC organizations can assist in this effort by convening the Volunteer Driver Programs to coordinate their efforts at maintaining and improving the vital networks. RTCCs will be required to organize and provide direction on statewide Volunteer Driver Program Guidelines for a seamless network of volunteer drivers.

Advocacy

Volunteer drivers are needed to overcome transportation barriers for the most vulnerable citizens. Older adults, veterans, those with disabilities and others encounter daily barriers to access of basic needs due to lack of transportation options. The volunteer driver programs in our region provide relief to this problem and needs your support to remain sustainable. Communities across the state have lost volunteer drivers.

Nonprofit and local government transportation providers are finding it increasingly difficult to recruit and retain volunteer drivers in recent years due to two major factors:

  1. some auto insurance carriers are increasing their insurance rates on volunteer drivers, treating them more like for hire drivers; and
  2. volunteers must pay income tax on any mileage reimbursement over the low IRS 14 cents a mile rate when the total reimbursement exceeds $600 a year

The legislation proposed in HF 2377/SF 2324 addresses the most significant threats to the viability of volunteer driver programs. It clarifies that volunteer drivers are NOT “for-hire” carriers and that their insurance premiums cannot be raised because they are volunteer drivers. The bill also creates a state income tax subtraction to lessen the tax liability of volunteer drivers and limits the liability of nonprofit organizations from claims in excess of $1.5 million related to a volunteer driver. Because of the out of pocket costs to volunteers, volunteer driver recruitment and retention is difficult, and programs are at imminent risk of disappearing. This change in law is crucial to the survival and viability of rural Minnesota communities.

Want to lend your voice to current volunteer driver issues? Additional resources:

Interested in learning more about volunteer drivers in Minnesota? Check out the Volunteer Driver Coalition.


Food Access Resources

(Coming soon!)

Exploring food access in Duluth? Check out Ecolibrium3’s Map of Food Resources in Duluth.


Publications


More Information

Beverly Sidlo-Tolliver
RTCC Coordinator
218-529-7536
bsidlotolliver@ardc.org