Chapter 1.5: Examples of Regional Approaches
The following examples briefly identify regional job access initiatives. A more detailed description of initiatives is provided in Chapter VI.
Wisconsin Works, (or W-2), is Wisconsin's employment-based assistance program for low-income families with dependent children. This program replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC).
In 1997, the State of Wisconsin embarked on a series of studies that focused on using public transportation to link people on public assistance with employment prospects. The first study focused on Milwaukee County, with similar studies following for Dane, Wood, Brown, Outagamie, Calumet and Winnegabo Counties. These Counties represented a range of rural and urban environments and provided valuable information on transportation planning for people moving from public assistance programs to new or improved jobs.
The core group of stakeholders included senior staff from the following organizations: Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD), Wisconsin Department of Transportation, Public Transit Section (Wis/DOT), the Wisconsin Urban Transit Association (WUTA), Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). Examples of initiatives include:
- Expanding fixed route service hours to include early morning and later night service.
- Adding/improving weekend fixed route service.
- Providing shuttle service to County businesses and industrial parks.
- Transit service planning and coordination with employer groups, private companies and Transportation Management Associations (TMAs).
Greater Philadelphia Works (GPW) is Philadelphia's $54 million welfare program designed to find employment for 15,000 TANF recipients in two years. GPW efforts include intensive job placement and support services, a transitional work program, child-care and wage subsidies, transportation assistance, and services for the homeless and persons with substance abuse problems. The transportation component of GPW is a $1.2 million effort focused on improving job access, job retention and job development.
The City of Philadelphia took the lead in developing transportation initiatives as part of the GPW program, and formed a group of stakeholders that participated in job access planning. The stakeholders included the representatives from the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), Private Industry Council (PIC) of Philadelphia, two suburban Transportation Management Associations (TMAs), Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC), and the City of Philadelphia. GPW transportation initiatives include the following:
- Transitional transit subsidies - SEPTA Pass Program
- Emergency Ride Home
- Transit Information Centers
- Transportation / Jobs Roundtables
Work First New Jersey (WFNJ) is New Jersey's welfare reform program designed to help welfare recipients find and maintain employment. The program is carried out at the county level and includes strong private sector partnerships and initiatives from many State Departments. The transportation element of the program is referred to as New Jersey's Community Transportation Initiatives - Connecting People to Jobs.
Initially, state organizations formed partnerships to address the mobility needs of WFNJ participants, low-income and other transit dependent persons. This group included stakeholders such as: the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT), New Jersey Department of Human Services (NJDHS), the New Jersey Department of Labor (NJDOL), NJ Transit, and the State Employment and Training Commission (SETC). The following transportation initiatives were created:
- Local Demonstration Projects
- NJ Transit WorkPass Program
- Get a Job, Get a Ride!
- Transit Use Training Video
- Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
- WFNJ Transportation Block Grant
- Statewide County Planning
Michigan's welfare reform program, To Strengthen Michigan Families (TSMF), provides a link to employment through job training and placement. The State's Family Independence Agency (FIA - formerly the Department of Social Services) is working with State and local departments of transportation and the Michigan Jobs Commission (MJC) to overcome barriers to employment.
The two major transit operators in the Detroit area are Suburban Mobility Authority on Regional Transit (SMART), and Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT). Working in collaboration with private corporations, non-profit human service agencies, chambers of commerce and government agencies, SMART and DDOT have designed several services to assist individuals in moving from welfare to work. These services include:
- Job Express
- Suburb to Suburb Routes
- Route Deviated Service
- Get a Job, Get a Ride
- Buses to Work
- SMART JobLine
In addition to the transit agencies, the metropolitan planning organization, Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) helped form a consortium of non-profit organizations, public agencies, and employers. Several of the newly created programs are listed below:
- Office of Mobility Management
- Guaranteed Ride to Work
- Regional Welfare to Work Plan
- Geographic Information System (GIS) Technology
Another agency playing an innovative role is the Metropolitan Affairs Coalition (MAC), a regional coalition of business, labor and government formed in 1958 to address public policy issues affecting the economic vitality of the region. MAC is a private non-profit civic organization co-located with SEMCOG, the Detroit area MPO. MAC's efforts geared toward transportation and employment include:
- EZ Ride
- Empowerment through Car Ownership Program
- Employer to Employer Job Ladder
San Luis Obispo County
California's welfare reform program, California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs), strives to assure that welfare is a temporary support in times of crisis, rather than a way of life. The San Luis Obispo Council of Governments (SLOCOG) addressed the issue of transportation in welfare reform by establishing the framework for a Welfare Mobility Plan prepared for San Luis Obispo County.
The key stakeholders in job access planning included the Department of Social Services, human resource agencies, training institutions, employers, transit and ridesharing service providers, job developers and CalWORKs participants. As a result, mobility barriers were identified and prioritized according to short, mid and long-term projects. Some of these projects include:
- Regional Transportation Guide
- Trip Planner Database Enhancements
- Guaranteed Ride Program
- Universal Transit Pass
- Shuttle Services
- Community Work Unit
- Personal Automobile Programs
- One-Stop Shop Centers
Minnesota's welfare reform program is referred to as the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP). MFIP is designed to help families increase their income, support movement toward self-sufficiency, prevent long-term dependence on welfare, and simplify the administration of the welfare system.
The McKnight Foundation, a major contributor to MFIP, is a private organization that funds programs assisting individuals, families, and communities to become more productive and self-sufficient. The Foundation has played a significant role with an investment of $20 million in welfare to work activities throughout the State.
McKnight planning efforts were focused at the county level, with each of the 87 counties forming planning committees and developing transportation initiatives separately. Stakeholders involved in job access planning generally included individuals from similar organizations in each county, such as: Caseworkers, job counselors, program managers, transportation coordinators, transportation providers (local and metropolitan), human service staff, job trainers and representatives from the Metropolitan Council.
In 1997, the state allocated $2 million for a two-year investment in transportation services in the seven county Minneapolis-St. Paul area for MFIP recipients. The seven counties were responsible for administering public assistance and employment programs. Planning efforts resulted in the following initiatives:
- Enhanced Fixed Route Service
- Purchase of Dial-a-Ride Service
- Reimbursement Programs
- Car Purchase/Repair Loan Programs
- Employer Outreach
- Specialized Programs for Immigrant Populations
- Shuttle Service
- Reverse Commute
- Shared-Ride Taxis
- Donated Cars
- Employer Provided Transportation
- Commuter Services
- Car Leasing
- Taxi Vouchers
- Volunteer Drivers
The "Empower Kentucky" Initiative is Kentucky's welfare reform effort to reduce state government costs, increase revenue, and improve services by reengineering the state's business systems. Developed under Empower Kentucky, the Human Service Transportation Delivery (HSTD) Program provides transportation services for non-emergency Medicaid trips, employment, and daycare.