Mobile Accessible Travel Training (MATT) Bus
An innovative transportation resource is available to Fairfax County senior citizens. In November 2004, Supervisor Hudgins and the Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) introduced a unique Fairfax Connector bus that has been renovated and designed for training senior citizens to travel safely and independently on regional transit systems.
The bus, called MATT (Mobile Accessible Travel Training), is used to educate seniors through a hands-on learning experience. Neighborhood and Community Services (NCS) staff will coordinate "travel training" trips in which seniors will travel by bus and rail transit to and from a destination of their choice. The travelers-in-training will identify a bus stop near their residence, learn to read bus schedules and route maps, learn how to pay the fare and how to signal the driver to stop, as well as other bus travel skills. The bus will deliver seniors to a Metrorail station where they will learn how to determine the fare and purchase Metrorail fare cards, load SmarTrip cards, read the system map, and board the trains to travel by rail.
Travel training has proven useful in allaying the fears of seniors who are reluctant to use transit, as well as those who have no other means of transportation. The Fairfax County Special Populations Transportation Programs (SPoT) Team has been offering travel training to seniors for the last few years, using regular in-service FAIRFAX CONNECTOR buses. With the MATT bus, this training is enhanced with state-of-the-art technology and a virtual classroom inside the bus.
The MATT bus is an actual FAIRFAX CONNECTOR bus that has been completely renovated and rebuilt to current safety and fuel efficiency standards. It features all of the same characteristics as other transit buses, and can be used to transport as many as 30 passengers. But the most unique feature of the bus is a special area in the rear for classroom-like instruction. The classroom area includes audio and video components that can play VCR tapes, DVDs and computer-driven programs that will be shown on three LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) television screens, two of which are mounted on the ceiling of the bus. The MATT bus has been equipped with two battery systems: one that runs the mechanical side of the bus while the other provides power to the technology system in the classroom area. The separate batteries enable the technology to be used without the bus engine running, so no fuel is burned and no exhaust fumes are dispensed.
The bus features a
top-of-the-line wheelchair lift in the front entrance, and there is room
on board for two wheelchairs with four-point tie-downs. Additionally,
there are up to six cochlear devices available for hearing-impaired
The MATT bus is available for groups of seniors who wish to be trained and groups at residences, senior or community centers, or other groups in Fairfax County who want to learn more about transit and transportation programs.
To schedule a travel training session, or to charter the MATT bus for special occasions, call the Fairfax County Department of Neighborhood and Community Services at 703-877-5800, TTY 711. Questions or comments may also be submitted using our online form.