II. Planning Focus Area and Methods
While there were several common themes among the case studies, each had unique methods to identify and plan for their specific job access issues. A brief review of the various approaches follows.
Flint Mass Transit surveyed employers and participants in the Genesee and Shaiwassee County, Michigan area who participated in Michigan's welfare to work program. The survey found generally favorable perceptions of public transportation services among employers and participants alike. This provided a good basis for promoting public transportation services as an alternative to private transportation. The Alaska Department of Transportation (ADOT) also administered a survey to various human service and transit agencies to include operational data. ADOT found the survey helpful in gathering information on transportation services that operated beyond the traditional peak hour service and services to areas not served before.
Geographic Information System (GIS) Applications
The use of Geographic Information System (GIS) technology also aided job access planning efforts and was consistently used in the majority of the case studies. The North Central Florida Regional Planning Council used Arc View 3.1 to map the location of Florida's welfare to work program recipients, one-stop centers, major employers and day care facilities in Alachua County, Florida. The information gathered from the GIS system was used to determine the welfare to work program participant's overall access to transit service, the proximity of potential employers to transit and how existing transportation services connect participants to employers.
The Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission (CMRPC) developed an Internet based trip planning application based on the Worcester Regional Transit Authority (WRTA) fixed route bus system. The "Trip Planner" engine allowed individuals to be routed from an origin to a destination on transit routes in a specified time period within the City of Worcester or the 13 surrounding towns that are served by the WRTA bus system.
The Mid-Willamette Valley Council of Governments (MVCOG) in Salem, Oregon, created a model to examine existing transit service and determine the transit needs in their region. This was accomplished using Arc View GIS software. The product enabled the preparation of trip data showing service gaps in their area, as well as where the service has improved over time.
Focus Group Meetings
The San Luis Obispo Council of Governments (SLOCOG) used focus group meetings to develop a comprehensive Welfare Mobility Plan for San Luis Obispo County, California. The plan was designed to reinforce and complement efforts already underway to improve mobility in the county. Athens Transit also conducted focus group meetings and workshops to agree upon common goals and action plans for eliminating barriers to access-to-jobs.