Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Northern Mariana Islands Creates First Transportation Office

Posted by Whitney E. Gray 

Currently in our eleventh year of the Accessible Transportation Coalitions Initiative (formerly called Mobility Planning Services Institute), ESPA has assisted many communities in improving accessible transportation, and teams from past years continue to make big strides in their communities. The 2003 ATCI/MPS Team from the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) recently helped accomplished a significant milestone—the creation of a transportation office. “MPSI was a great learning experience, and it finally paid off!” Thomas J. Camacho, a member of the CNMI team, stated.

Team CNMI wanted “people with disabilities, their families and the Man'Amko (elderly) [to] have available [an] accessible, flexible, reliable transportation program and services of their choice.” Just last month, after many years of advocacy work on public transportation, CNMI established its first transportation office called the Commonwealth Office of Transit Authority. On May 27, the Honorable Benigno R. Fitial signed into law HB. 17-43 (now PL. 17-43) establishing the Commonwealth Office of Transit Authority within the Office of the Governor. On August 11, Governor Fitial affirmed and officially established the Commonwealth Office of Transit Authority within the Office of the Governor and concurrently appointed Thomas J. Camacho, a member of the CNMI team, as his Special Assistant for Public Transportation.

In addition to establishing the first transit authority office, PL. 17-43 and the Governor's Memorandum re-designated the FTA Consolidated Formula grants from the CNMI Public School System to the new Commonwealth Office of Transit Authority. The Saipan Call-a-Ride Transportation Services for People with Disabilities and the Elderly has been privatized, as well, and continues to be in demand. This service is also recognized as the ADA Paratransit System that will compliment CNMI’s future public transportation system or fixed-route system.

To learn more about other ATCI/MPS teams and their accomplishments, stay tuned for ESPA’s upcoming product, Mobility Planning Services Institute Retrospective: Celebrating Ten Years of Expanded Accessible Transportation Options in Our Communities. Due out this fall, this new retrospective highlights the work of a sampling of MPS/ATCI teams from 2001 to 2010 and concludes with several of the lessons we learned from these remarkable MPS/ATCI teams and communities.


  1. Yes indeed! The establishment of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) transit office is a positive action towards achieving transit opportunities necessary for our community, specifically the "disabled" and the "elderly".

    Congratulations to Mr. Thomas J. Camacho on your appointment as the Special Assistant to the Governor for public transportation. With Mr. Camacho's vast experience and knowledge in the realm of transportation, he is definitely the right person to coordinate and facilitate this office.

    Call-A-Ride Saipan continues to look forward in continuing paratransit services to all riders so they may participate in community events or other social activities, and in the same token expand or increase the level of service so as to meet ridership demands.

    Francis S. Taimanao
    Program Manager
    Call-A-Ride Saipan

  2. Congratulations to Mr. Thomas J. Camacho and people do believe that he would definitely go for the best transportation facility for all.

  3. Thank you to both comments, it was a long ride but we excelled. More power to people with disabilities, the elderly, veterans and military personnel and their families, but most especially, the establishment of the Commonwealth Office of Transit Authority began with the CNMI Team who attended and implemented its MPS Transportation Plan to local leaders who ultimately supported public transportation for the CNMI.