TEA-21 - Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century
Moving Americans into the 21st Century
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OVERALL: This session was dedicated to the FTA Access to Jobs/Reverse Commute program. The morning session included remarks by: John Stroger, President- Cook County Commission, Danny Davis- U.S. House of Representatives, Tom Walker-Commissioner of Transportation for City of Chicago, Secretary Slater, Administrator Linton, and others. This was followed by a presentation on the Access to Jobs/Reverse Commute program guidelines which were released at the session. The session was very well attended and case studies on successful programs were presented throughout the balance of the day.
NOTE: This summary reviews overview remarks by speakers and two of the programs discussed during the session. Complete information on all presentations is available through the FTA.
The Secretary noted that the civil rights of the disabled need to be recognized and addressed. He indicated that we "...need workable transportation solutions for all of our communities in need." The Secretary reviewed key national labor statistics such as: the lowest unemployment rate in 28 years, the lowest inflation in more than 3 decades, 17 million new jobs have been created in recent years, and the economy is the strongest it has been in a generation. He mentioned that 3 of 4 welfare recipients live in urban or rural areas without access to transportation and jobs and the Job Access/Reverse Commute program paves the way for innovative transportation services. Solutions will be need to be flexible and tailored to local needs. Transportation is the "to" in the Welfare to Work initiative. The five year, $750 million Access to Jobs program will stimulate grass roots partnerships which will include human services agencies, transportation agencies and community organizations. Secretary Slater noted that people wanted to be included in the process and that this (Access to Jobs/Reverse Commute) initiative will not be successful without full participation of interested parties.
Danny Davis, U.S. House of Representatives
Rep. Davis talked about TEA-21 and how it "....goes beyond the rhetoric and applies effort to meet those (transportation) needs and challenges. Our federal government is able to look beyond the mainstream and go to where people are and design programs to benefit individuals."
FTA Access to Jobs Presentation- Edward Thomas, Associate Administrator for Research, Demonstration and Innovation, FTA
Mr. Thomas presented an overview of the Access to Jobs/Reverse Commute Program. He talked about FTAs understanding of the problems that people face in getting access. Customer focus, coordination, and ensuring that FTA supports the type of services that clients need are the agencys top three priorities. Among the information provided were facts related to who the customers are including: 90% of welfare recipients are women with children and 50% have children between 2 and 5 years old. Child care is an important issue. 70% of severely disabled individuals happen to be on welfare. Native Americans and rural folks also need transportation services. Two million familieswill see temporary assistance terminate by 2002. Welfare recipients and low income individuals all will need access to jobs through improved transportation services.
FTA plans to link the size of grants to size of an area being served. Equity is also an issue in the allocation of funds. FTA wants to see as many areas as possible receive grants. There may also be multi-year commitments. A 50% match is required however, non-DOT programs can be used for match (ie., DOL program, HHS-TANF, CDBG funds).
Activities eligible include new or expanded transportation services, shuttles, extensions of existing routes, vanpools, late night services, capital and operating costs, vehicles, computers, capital assets and marketing and promotion costs.
Planning and coordination issues include: transportation, training, child care, etc. Human services and transportation coordination will be central to the success of the program.
State and local agencies, nonprofit agencies, transit agencies are all eligible to receive funding through coordination in MPO planning process. Single application will be provided in major urban areas and single State-wide applications for areas below 200,000. December 31 is the application deadline for the first round of funding are due. Selections in February 99. Documentation and awards Mar-May.
Following are specific suggestions by two of the presenters on elements of a successful program. FTA provided a great deal of information and hand-outs on successful program case studies, information on how to apply for funding, and who to contact for information on the program.
John Plunkett, President, Suburban JobLink, Chicago, Ill
Its the clock that counts to the customer. Goal at Suburban Joblink is to keep commutes at no more than 1 hour each way. Cutting travel time effectively increases hourly wage rate.
Whats needed for a successful program:
1) focus on rider needs and wants
2) new capacity-- means more than providing bus or train tokens
3) Quick one seat rides are needed
4) Cost effective vanpooling
5) Mainstream solutions, not segregated programs for former welfare recipients
6) Careful market segmentation
Roz Staples-Streeter, Manager, Bridges to Work, St. Louis, MO
The challenges people face in order to get to work need to be acknowledged. The need to prepare the people we serve poses significant challenges (i.e., we provide transportation and job coaching, social workers, service providers, etc.) Participants must come to our program work-ready. What does it take? We need 24-hour capacity. Employers need to understand that these employees do nothave control over their commute time.
David Lee, General Manager, Connecticut Transit, Hartford, CT
Mr. Lees theme was that successful programs need "A Bunch of the Right People Sitting Around the Table". These include:
1) Transportation providers
2) Welfare administration
3) Business community
4) Business developers
Five elements of success in the Connecticut Transit Access to Jobs Initiative:
1) There may be lots of opportunities to provide service that are not necessarily expensive (i.e., turn deadhead trips into reverse commute trips). Do these things first.
2) Seize the initiative. Empower the right people to do some things right away. Identify gaps in transportation system and put resources there to address the gaps.
3) Create one stop shopping for job developers. Is there a minor adjustment in the system that can serve them?
4) Provide one stop shopping for the clients. (i.e., Hotline telephone number).
5) Provide a Guaranteed ride home program; it is cost effective and an important "insurance policy" for transit riders (i.e., in an emergency they can get home, to child care, etc.)