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JOBS set to shuttle employees to work

September 11, 2000

JOBS set to shuttle employees to work



By DAN KULIN / Staff Writer


A Washington County program to help people without vehicles get to work begins today.

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For 75 cents a ride, the JOBS program offers door-to-door service to and from work and day care for county residents who meet income guidelines and live within the service area.

JOBS is an acronym for Job Opportunity Bus Shuttle.

Three people are expected to be on today's inaugural routes, said Rosalind Martin, assistant director at the county Department of Social Services, which is overseeing the program.

The goal is to have at least 100 people try the service in the next 12 months, Martin said.

"We don't want anyone to say they couldn't get to work because there wasn't enough transportation," she said.

Martin said that since welfare reform began in 1996, transportation problems have been identified as a major reason why some people have trouble getting or keeping a job. She said a recent department study showed there are at least 300 county households without vehicles.

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People who would use the program could include those without vehicles, people who can't drive because they don't have a license and those with cars being repaired, she said.

Martin said her department will work with JOBS customers to find a better long-term solution to their transportation needs.

The JOBS program is more useful to some people than the existing County Commuter bus line because the JOBS program is a "demand service," Martin said.

For example, a JOBS program customer with a child in day care can get picked up at home and driven to day care to drop off a child. The JOBS bus will wait for customers while they drop off their children and then take the customers on to work.

The County Commuter, a traditional bus service with structured routes, would not wait while a child is dropped off at day care and probably would not have a route to take a rider from home to day care to work without a transfer.

Dan Dalton, statewide transit coordinator for the Mass Transit Administration, said that in Maryland there are about 223,000 homes without a vehicle. He said that because lately companies say they need more employees, the JOBS program is a "win-win situation for all of us."

"Most of us take transportation for granted. But it is a barrier for many folks," County Commissioner William J. Wivell said.

The plan is for the shuttle service to operate Monday through Saturday from 6 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. The service area is bounded by Clear Spring, Williamsport, Smithsburg and the Pennsylvania state line. Martin said financial assistance is available for those who cannot afford the fare.

Income limits for customers range from $16,704 a year for a single-person household to $34,104 for a family of four.

The program costs about $116,000 and is being funded with state and federal grants, Martin said.

The JOBS program and the county's Try Transit Week were given a ceremonial launching Monday morning in Hagerstown's Public Square. During Try Transit Week rides on the JOBS bus and the County Commuter buses are free.

The free rides program is expected to cost the county $5,000 in lost fares.

The commissioners hope the offer will encourage increased use of the buses.

For more information or to apply for the program contact the Department of Social Services toll-free at 1-866-800-JOBS (5627).

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