The Job Access and Reverse Commute (JARC) program has had a dramatic impact on the lives of thousands of welfare recipients and low-income families, helping individuals successfully transition from welfare to work and reach needed employment support services such as childcare and job training activities. JARC was established as part of TEA–21 to address the unique transportation challenges faced by welfare recipients and low-income persons seeking to get and keep jobs. With many new entry-level jobs located in suburban areas, low-income and/or welfare recipients have found it difficult to access these jobs from their inner city, urban and rural neighborhoods on a daily basis. Further, many entry-level jobs require working late at night or on weekends when conventional transit services in many communities are either reduced or non-existent. Finally, many employment-related trips are complex for low-income persons, often involving multiple destinations, including reaching childcare facilities and other services as part of the work trip.
Section 3037 of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA–21) required that JARC project selection be made through a national competition based on statutorily specified criteria. FTA conducted competitions and selected projects for funding appropriated in FY 1999–2002. However, beginning in FY 2000, Congress also began designating specific projects and recipients to receive JARC funding in the conference reports accompanying the annual appropriations acts, and directed FTA to honor those designations with statutory language specifying that “notwithstanding any other provision of law, projects and activities designated [in the conference reports] shall be eligible for funding.” Each year, more projects were Congressionally designated until finally all JARC project funding was allocated to Congressionally designated projects and recipients. Although SAFETEA–LU repealed Section 3037 of TEA–21 and substituted the new provisions of 49 U.S.C. 5316, those projects designated by Congress under Section 3037 and not yet obligated remain available to the project for obligation under the terms and conditions of Section 3037.
With the passage of SAFETEA–LU, JARC funding is allocated by formula to States for areas with populations below 200,000 persons, and to designated recipients for areas with populations of 200,000 persons and above. The formula is based on the number of eligible low-income and welfare recipients in urbanized and rural areas. SAFETEA-LU authorized a total of $727 million for JARC grants from Fiscal Years 2006 through 2009.
The formula-based program is intended to provide an equitable funding distribution to States and communities as well as stable and reliable funding in order to implement locally developed, coordinated public transit-human services transportation plans. FTA continues to provide maximum flexibility to communities in designing plans and projects to meet the transportation needs of low-income people and welfare recipients.