My name is Gloria McKenzie and I am a Trip Planner for the Capital District Transportation Authority in Albany New York. I want to thank the distinguished members of this Committee for affording me this opportunity to share with you my thoughts about the reauthorization of the Transportation Equity Act for the Twenty-First Century.
As a single mother with two children, living in public housing, and on public assistance, I was referred to an employment and training program with the goal being that I secure full time employment in order to support my family and myself. In order to achieve this goal, the local Department of Social Services provided me with subsidized public transportation in the form of a bus pass, which allowed me to have access to a Training Program. Upon securing employment, my bus pass was maintained allowing me to get to and from work on a daily basis. I can assure you that without this ongoing support of my public transportation needs, it would have been difficult for me to continue doing the work necessary to secure employment and to take care of my family needs.
Today, I come before you in my capacity as a Trip Planner, and along with the coordinator and my two fellow trip planners; we manage the public transportation trip needs of individuals in a four county area that makes up the Capital District’s Jobs Access Reverse Commute Program. My job is to work with any and all individuals, but specifically with TANF and low-income individuals to help them manage their public transportation mobility needs, which primarily consist of access to employment centers, child care facilities, and education and training centers. CDTA’s JARC Program consist of expanded shuttle service to major areas of employment, a safety net brokerage, trip planners to address the mobility needs of customers, and a coordinator who works with employers, local government officials, and the community addressing the mobility needs of the community at large. Matching funds from Community Solutions for Transportation dollars providing for service extensions on existing routes and a Pass Program allowing individuals access to the entire service delivery system. Our program has been embraced by the community, and CDTA is perceived as a involved and concerned partner in resolving the transportation needs of citizens and has received a an award from the American Public Transportation Association as one of the top ten Welfare to Work Transportation Programs in the Country.
I would like to provide you with three examples of individuals whose lives have been impacted by our JARC Program:
A DSS Caseworker referred a single mother with two children who had taken a job in a health care facility and was facing the daunting task of trying to get one child to school, get the second child to a day care center, and then get herself to work by 8AM. We were able to use regular bus service to get both the older child to school, and the younger child to the day care center, however, by the time the day care center opened, the mother did not have enough time to then use fixed route bus service to get to work on time. I was then able to refer the mother to the safety net program, which provided taxi service to get her to work. Her trip at the end of her workday, while a long one, could be negotiated with the regular bus service.
A Department of Labor employment counselor, operating out of the "One Stop" employment center referred a young gentleman, who took a job at a local Wal-Mart, which required that he take three busses to get to work. I met with this gentleman and his employment counselor and we mapped out the routes and times of the trips he would need to take in order to get to work.
The Center For the Disabled, called upon me to work with one of their Disabled clients who had taken a job in a health care facility. Along with a counselor from the "Center", we rode the bus with this individual to and from work for a five day period insuring that the client understood how to use the bus, ask the driver for assistance, and to generally make her comfortable with using public transportation, a skill she needed to master to maintain a level of self-sufficiency.
CDTA’s JARC Program currently provides 2,060 trips per month on its fixed route service for individuals using the TANF funded bus passes and provides service to another 200 individuals by way of the Demand Response service, that is, passengers calling ahead for service. In the areas where we have Expanded Shuttle Service hours, there are over 160 employers providing approximately 30,000 jobs with over 9,000 entry-level jobs, which TANF and Low-income persons pursue.
In concluding I would just like to say that there are many individual stories I could have shared with you, if time had permitted, that would demonstrate the vital role that JARC funded program and services have in assisting individuals in securing and marinating employment, and ultimately supporting the overall well being of families.
Thank Your for affording me this opportunity to share my thoughts with you.
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