Transportation is the "to" in "welfare to work." Welfare reform has made job access transportation a national priority, and it has opened doors for new sources of funding. Transportation services are becoming a distinguishable part of the human services support system. New and expanded transportation programs have been implemented to assist individuals in training, job searching, employment, and retention.
The Job Access and Reverse Commute (JARC) program, part of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), provides an opportunity for states and local agencies to become involved in offering new or improved transportation services. The JARC program is intended to fund transportation programs that assist welfare recipients and low-income families to access jobs. The program was initiated in 1999 and extends over a five-year period. Grants are to be used for the purchase of buses, vans and shuttles, or for the marketing of these services to employers and employees. Coordination among a broad group of stakeholders on a regional scale is an important feature of the program. Regional planning organizations such as metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) are being encouraged to participate in planning efforts and to take a lead role in coordination and facilitation.
Projects and activities proposed under the JARC program must be incorporated into the Regional Job Access Transportation Plan. The Plan is meant to build upon existing welfare-to-work transportation planning activities and must identify the following:
- Geographic distributions of welfare recipients and low-income individuals.
- Geographic distributions of employment centers and employment related activities.
- Existing public, private, non-profit and human services transportation services.
- Gaps in existing transportation services between welfare recipients and low-income individuals, and employment centers and activities.
- Activities and projects designed to address the transportation gaps.
- Priority of each project or activity.
The complexity of the Plan will vary according to the area location and size of each community or region. Additional information regarding the Transportation Plan can be found at the FTA web site, http://www.fta.dot.gov