III. Planning Contexts and Approaches

Printer Friendly Version

The Case Studies addressed a wide range of planning applications, which may be grouped by planning context and approaches:

Sub-Area Markets
Most case studies addressed spatial-mismatch of the locations of jobs and needed services to the location of low-income and welfare transient individuals. For example, the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) determined that their welfare to work problem is a result of job decentralization and suburban sprawl. Between 1970 and 1990, job growth in the core regional cities of Philadelphia, Trenton and Camden declined by 13.2 percent. In 1970, these cities housed half of the region's employment. Creating a regional job access plan with an emphasis on strengthening inner city connections to regional employment centers is imperative for individuals without automobile access.

In Worcester, Massachusetts, CMPRC found that 64 percent of the total regional welfare recipient population (4,033) individuals lived in the City of Worcester. Of those, 99.5 percent were located within a quarter-mile (4 blocks) of an existing bus route. Additionally, 99 percent of child-care providers and 95 percent of Worcester manufacturers and service employers were located within the same quarter-mile.

A similar finding occurred in Gainesville, Florida. The North Central Florida Regional Planning Council revealed that the workforce centers, childcare centers and employers, in fact, were located where high concentrations of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) recipients lived.

Target Population
Flint Mass Transit Authority (MTA) in Michigan found that the majority of their target populations, Work First participants, were female (85.3%) and African American (48.4%). However, it was found that more than half of the target population (56%) had regular use of a car to meet their transportation needs. While in New Jersey, the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA) found that 90 percent of adult TANF recipients were single, female heads of households without access to an automobile and dependent upon public transportation.

Other special target populations presented their own unique challenges. DVRPC indicated that in Philadelphia, jobs were most plentiful in the suburbs, some of the welfare to work clients did not want to work outside of their communities. Individuals who lived all of their lives in the same neighborhood were often reluctant to work in cities or suburban centers in the region even though reasonable access was available to them. These psychological barriers could have a profound impact on welfare-to-work transportation planning.

Service Providers
The case studies documented a variety of existing transportation services, including demand responsive transit and fixed-route bus service, and found there were major transportation service barriers to job access. These barriers included: In Flint, Michigan, the transit operator provided extensive fixed-route service to and from the transportation center in the downtown area. It was, however, noted that these could change as firms moved or relocated in areas not served by transit. It was recommended that market studies be conducted in areas adjacent to the county, in particular, areas not served by public transportation, to identify transportation gaps that affect the mobility of the welfare-to-work population.

The Special Transportation Advisory Committee of the Salem Area Mass Transit District in Salem, Oregon, identified 62 service providers in the region. However, due to service provider specialization and lack of coordination among various agencies, a larger majority of the target population was not served and/or poorly served.

The Alaska Department of Transportation found a network of existing transportation services and potential resources within the targeted communities. This suggested that areas developing employment transportation services should first identify and evaluate existing services before proceeding to establish separate programs dedicated to employment transportation alone. With this coordination, pre-existing transportation programs were found to accommodate new demands, at lower cost than developing new stand-alone services.

A major challenge identified in all case studies was the coordination of employer's schedules (work shifts) with the availability of public transportation service. Certain types of jobs, because of their lack of a fixed schedule and high turnover rates, proved difficult to accommodate-- primarily jobs located in the suburbs. For example, Athens Transit identified transportation service for non-traditional work hours as a major barrier. The transit agency identified gaps in fixed route coverage, with a major manufacturing area non-serviced by the transit system and another industrial park not served at all. Also noted was a need for general public transportation for people living outside of the transit service area to travel to jobs in the urbanized area.

The case studies identified other barriers which included: rider difficulty understanding bus schedules, learning how to transfer between modes, and understanding how to use heavy rail systems. Inadequate information on transportation system providers were found as a significant barrier to using transit for low-income individuals in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. The region lacked a comprehensive, centralized database of transportation services, schedules, and fare structures for more than 10 public transportation providers serving the metropolitan region.

In Worcester, Massachusetts, job placement counselors were generally found unaware of the transit service area. As a result, they could not promote transit use to their clients.

Trip chaining was found time-consuming and costly for welfare-to-work participants using transit, and was identified as transportation service barriers by Philadelphia and Northern New Jersey regions. For example, in the Philadelphia region, many workers crossing the Pennsylvania and New Jersey borders traveled two of the region's three transit systems. Although numerous connections between New Jersey Transit, Southeast Pennsylvania Transit Authority (SEPTA) and Pennsylvania Area Transit Company (PATCO) existed, the lack of a common fare instrument was found to add to the cost and complexity of transferring between different systems.

Coordination and Cooperation of Stakeholders
One common theme consistent with all case studies was coordination. Virtually all stressed that in order to have comprehensive welfare-to-work transportation plans, improved coordination among transportation providers, employers, human resource agencies, and social service agencies in the region were much needed. In San Luis Obispo, California, unusual multi-agency and multi-disciplinary partnerships developed as key stakeholders coordinated welfare reform efforts. The key stakeholders in this effort included the Department of Social Services, human resource agencies, childcare providers, training institutions, employers, transit and ridesharing service providers, job developers and TANF participants. Social service and human resource agencies did not coordinate with transportation agencies prior to this even though they had common "customers." By forming multi-disciplinary partnerships, transportation issues were integrated with employment efforts. Transit agencies gained valuable insight by working directly with social service agencies. Also, social service representatives gained greater awareness of transportation services in the county.

Involving Stakeholders and the Community
The Transportation Planning Board (TPB) of the Washington, DC region utilized their extensive public involvement and outreach program in developing their Job Access Transportation Plan. Public involvement was secured in two ways. First, broad, community-based coalitions and welfare to work clients participated in the overall planning process. One example was the Regional Welfare Reform Collaborative, a grass-roots community organization representing the interests of the Welfare-to-Work constituency. Other grassroots, community-based agencies also worked directly with the welfare to work client population such as the community action and anti-poverty agency, the United Planning Organization, which became a funding partner in the Job Access activities that resulted. Second, TPB established an expanded organizational structure to provide ongoing support for job access planning and coordination. The new organizational design included a welfare community advisory committee, using partner social service agencies to help identify appropriate contacts to serve on this group. The reorganized Job Access Advisory Committee met to establish a work program and schedule to support the annual update of the initial Job Access Transportation Plan.

Employer Cooperation
Employer cooperation was a factor that varied from project to project depending upon the particular context of the region. While some projects managed to secure contributions of time and resources from major employers, others encountered resistance to assisting former welfare recipients in obtaining needed transportation.

Typically, employers who were resistant to cooperating with Job Access Planning efforts were unwilling to make the necessary financial contributions as in the case of Flint Mass Transit and Athens-Clarke County studies.

Multi-modal Implications
A multi-modal approach was common through these case studies. In Flint, Michigan, participants of the Michigan Work First (Michigan's welfare-to-work program) were asked on a survey what transportation mode they preferred to use to and from work. That effort revealed that 66.2 percent preferred a personal car or van; 11.4 percent preferred a public transportation option that allowed them to drop off and pick up their children at day care centers before and after work; 11.1 percent preferred a public transportation option that transports them to a central location from where they could be taken to a work site; 10.2 percent preferred a carpool. In San Luis Obispo, while public transit was deemed critical to welfare-to-work transition, it was determined that transit alone, would not be able to provide the mobility for all California welfare-to-work program participants. The recommended programs included a mix of buses, shuttles, carpools, vanpools, bicycles and private automobiles.

In San Luis Obispo, although the target populations for the Welfare Mobility Study were TANF recipients, many of the recommended programs were cited for their potential to improve mobility for the larger population of commuters. It was noted that when serving larger populations, such as TANF recipients would not be isolated or dependent on special services that are generally transitional in nature.

A A A    Bookmark and Share