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JOBS program to add a van

March 26, 2001

JOBS program to add a van



By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

kimy@herald-mail.com

For Barbara Turner finding a job wasn't as difficult as getting there each day.

Without a car, she said, "I used to walk four miles a day" to get to her job at TFX Marine on Western Maryland Parkway after dropping off her four children at day care and grade school.

To help people like Turner, the Washington County Department of Social Services started the Job Opportunity Bus Shuttle, which provides low cost, door-to-door shuttle service Monday through Saturday from 6 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Since the program started in September 2000, there have been an average of 27 to 30 riders a month and a waiting list of two or three people, said Assistant Director Rosalind Martin.

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To meet an increase in customers, the program will add an eight-seat bus to its fleet in May.

"We're happy that it has taken off," said Martin.

The program is for county residents who meet income guidelines, she said.

People who use the program are those without cars or driver's licenses or are getting their vehicles repaired.

The Jobs shuttle is less structured than traditional bus service, said Martin.

A Jobs program customer with a child in day care can be picked up at home and driven to day care to drop off a child. The JOBS bus will wait while a child is dropped off and then take the patron to work.

"They have a lot of patience and they're friendly," said shuttle customer Debbie Caruso.

Like Turner, Caruso had to walk her to children to school each day and then walked to work at the Four Points Hotel Sheraton on Dual Highway.

Getting to work in the winter when it snowed and temperatures dropped below zero was hard, said Caruso.

"My kids would cry but I would tell them 'It's important, we have to go,'" she said.

For the past three months Caruso has been taking the shuttle and "It helps 100 percent," she said.

Caruso said she intends to learn to drive and get a car but until then the shuttle is a lifesaver.

"They're flexible if you need to cancel and they get you there on time," she said.

The shuttle service area is bounded by Clear Spring, Williamsport, Smithsburg and the Pennsylvania state line.

Income limits range from $16,704 a year for a single person household to $34,104 for a family of four. Fares are on a sliding scaled based on income and size of family.

Financial assistance is available for those who can't afford the fare, said Martin.

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