Chapter 4.8: Examples of Regional Approach
The Wisconsin planning approach involved gathering the residential addresses of individuals on public assistance programs, locations of likely job opportunities and existing public transportation services. Later, locations of day care facilities, technical colleges and job centers became part of the information gathering and analysis.
For the Milwaukee County transportation planning effort, the target population was defined as AFDC recipients. Approximately 21,300 individuals were identified as target population members in the Milwaukee County area.
The Wisconsin Department of Work Force Development (DWD) provided the addresses (complete with mailing address including zip code) of the target population under a strict confidentiality agreement. Developing the agreement and releasing the information took several months and significantly affected the schedule of the Milwaukee County transportation planning process.
For subsequent counties, new confidentiality agreements were required and the information was provided much more quickly. Only information related to an individual's location was provided. As the transportation planning progressed to other counties in Wisconsin, particularly the more rural counties, different definitions of the target population were adopted. The number of W-2 participants was decreasing.
As a result, planning focused on individuals who were currently employed, but had incomes low enough to qualify for other public assistance, such as Food Stamps.
For the Milwaukee County study, DWD helped identify industries most likely to hire members of the target population. A review of the employment information suggested that entry level jobs that required few specific skills or physical strength presented the most likely job opportunities for people moving off welfare programs into the workforce. These jobs are grouped below by industry:
- Building Materials
- General Merchandise
- Food Stores
- Automotive Dealers
- Apparel and Accessories
- Furniture and Home Furnishings
- Eating and Drinking Establishments
- Miscellaneous Retail
- Hotels, Rooming Houses
- Personal Services
- Business Services
- Automotive Repair
- Miscellaneous Repair
- Entertainment Complexes
- Engineering, Accounting, Managerial Services
- Legal Services
- Educational Services
- Social Services
- Membership Organizations
- Health Services
- Private Households
- Miscellaneous Services
- Food and Kindred Spirits
- Textile Mills
- Apparel and Finished Fabrics
- Furniture and Fixtures
- Rubber/Miscellaneous Plastics
- Leather and Leather Goods
- Electrical and Electric Machinery, Equipment and Supplies
- Measuring, Analyzing and Controlling Instruments
Once the industries were identified, the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (SEWRPC) provided information on employers in the Milwaukee County area and the percentage of employees in the region. The services industry had the highest number of employees (43%), followed by the retail industry (27%), the government industry (18%) and the manufacturing industry (12%). While this step did not identify specific job openings, it did provide a good understanding of where job opportunities were likely to exist.
The employment information was further analyzed by plotting a series of maps (using a Geographic Information System - see chapter V) showing the following employment information:
- All Employers
- Manufacturing Employers
- Service Employers
- Retail Employers
- Government (Public Administration) Employers
- Selected Industries by Number of Employees
For some of the smaller, more rural counties in Wisconsin, inclusion of additional subcategories resulted in a larger potential employment base.
SEWRPC also provided information on firms to participate in employer interviews. Employers from each industry participated in focus groups designed to gather information on workplace and transportation policies and willingness or likelihood to hire individuals from the W-2 program. The information gathered from these interviews was incorporated into the Milwaukee County study and used for planning in other counties.
Existing Public Transportation Services
For the Wisconsin planning process, gathering information on public transportation services proved to be a much easier task than gathering information on the target population or job opportunities. Fortunately, transportation providers published routes and schedules and provided plans for upcoming service changes.
Wis/DOT's Public Transit Section provided information on publicly subsidized services open to the general public, including small urban regular route service, large urban regular route service and dial-a-ride service operating in rural and urban areas. Information on private, non-subsidized service was not collected.
Generally, the information gathered for each service included the following:
- Service Area
- Hours of Service
- Days of Service
- Cost of Operations
- Number of Vehicles
- Frequency of Service
- Travel Times
- Passenger Fares
- Existing Plans for Service Changes
- Recommended Service Changes
The Wisconsin Bureau of Regulations and Licenses maintains the State's licenses for childcare facilities. This information was used to map addresses of childcare facilities in each of the counties using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software. In addition, GIS software was used to map transportation services, locations of the target population and potential employers for each county.
Technical Colleges and Job Centers
One or two Job Centers served each county and local members of technical colleges and job centers served on the Steering Committee, providing requisite assistance and information.
The Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) maintained cost data on the W2 program. Other sources of economic and demographic information on W2 participants was derived from the following sources:
- Locations and numbers of jobs covered by unemployment insurance (by SIC code) from state agencies;
- Demographic information from the 1990 Census, state and county agencies administering social services, and extensive survey work conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee;
- Quantitative and qualitative information from interviews and focus groups with employers, business associations, social service agencies, and the target population.
In Philadelphia, participating agencies gathered information to identify barriers to work trips in the region. Information included the residential addresses of individuals on public assistance programs, locations of likely job opportunities, corporate parks and schools, existing public transportation services, childcare centers and the location of regional service centers. While most information was current and available, SEPTA suburban route maps had not been updated in more than 10 years.
Additional information included identifying the transit dependent population and their travel characteristics. Although auto ownership rates are not available for the target population, the Census Bureau provides data and estimates of zero-car households for the general population by county. Journey to work data showed the number of city resident workers that commute by transit. Philadelphia's planning approach assumed the incidence of transit dependency was substantially higher for the target population in the area. Stakeholders also explored factors that influence job retention, such as reasonable commute times, distance from home, and cost. Existing transportation service and provider information was prepared by each county and included private carriers and non-profit providers.
New Jersey's regional coordination efforts began as a result of two welfare to work kickoff events in July 1997 and January 1998. According to a survey distributed at the second event, the absence of regional coordination was the most serious concern. To encourage coordination within the region, the DVRPC partnered with New Jersey DOT to hold a regional mini-summit for select county steering committees in June 1998.
County planning efforts in New Jersey, referred to as the County Transportation Coordination Process, included 21 counties. Each county prepared a transportation plan that included a transportation demand analysis, a transportation supply inventory, identification of gaps in service, and a plan to coordinate existing resources to fill the gaps. The plans helped to identify specific services that were incorporated into the FY 1999 Job Access and Reverse Commute proposals.
Many of the counties utilized GIS as part of their analysis and gathered information on residences' of WFNJ welfare population, childcare centers, major employers, and existing transit services. Although the State supplied transportation consultants and the GIS resources to assist the counties, the process was a large undertaking. The process takes a considerable amount of staff time and resources to commit to a long-term planning effort.
SMART, DDOT and SEMCOG utilized GIS to identify the location of transit dependent populations, childcare facilities and potential job locations. By merging databases from multiple sources including employment data purchased from a private firm and U.S. Census data, they were able to determine areas under-served by existing transit services. SMART conducted a corridor analysis by number of businesses, type of business and jobs, to link with existing transit routes. SEMCOG assisted in providing long-range planning functions and travel demand and origin/destination data for service planning. They were instrumental in coordinating data from other sources to utilize a common GIS platform to analyze the metropolitan service area.
Earlier planning efforts to address employment issues in the Detroit area began in the mid-1980's when the Ford plant, one of the largest employers in the region, experienced difficulty in the placement of workers. Suburban employment centers were experiencing rapid growth while the population and employment in Detroit declined. A demographic study was completed to determine where the chronically jobless were located and found that the major older urban areas, including the City of Detroit, had the highest number of individuals living below the poverty level.
San Luis Obispo County
Planning in San Luis Obispo County focused primarily on utilizing GIS to identify the location of CalWORKS participants, potential employment opportunities, childcare facilities, job training centers and existing transportation services. When obtaining the location information of childcare facilities, only licensed facility locations were provided.
SLOCOG also gathered information on traffic volume and traffic movement to determine potential origin/destination information, levels of service and transit corridors.
Planning efforts focused primarily on the seven-county metropolitan area of Minneapolis-St. Paul and each county was at liberty to follow their own planning process. Because there were no rules or guidelines set up to direct stakeholder groups in their planning efforts and very little time, planning took place in a real-time environment rather than a proactive approach. Each county was limited to basic information to begin planning, including total target population residing in the county, and funding available. It was up to each county to develop and implement programs.
Welfare reform efforts varied among the seven counties. Anoka County implemented a mandatory job search program that required members of the target population to attend a 2-week training class. The county determined times, dates and locations of the training.
The challenge was determining the origins of the target population and how to transport them to one central training center. Communication between transit providers, job counselors and financial workers proved to be the most effective means to share information and determine what information was necessary, where to find it and how it might be useful to develop transportation alternatives. Using GIS, the county produced maps that displayed the locations of the target population, existing transit routes, childcare facilities, training centers and employment centers.
The planning process in Kentucky focused on the implementation of a redesigned statewide transportation network. The Human Service Transportation Delivery (HSTD) program provides a variety of benefits to eligible transportation recipients. Working in conjunction with transportation brokers and providers in the state, the program addresses previous problems with fragmentation of services.