From May 2008 to the end of 2011, more than a million Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (Metro) rides have been provided to low-income workers to get to and from jobs, job training and related activities, thanks to the Everybody Rides Metro Foundation and its 96 partner agencies, including Talbert House, Freestore Foodbank, St. Vincent de Paul, Lighthouse Youth Services and Cincinnati Works.
To provide job-related free rides, the Everybody Rides Metro Foundation uses a federal Job Access-Reverse Commute (JARC) grant that is matched by the partner agencies to provide Metro bus tokens at no charge to low-income residents to connect them to job counseling, interviews, training and exams, and job-related child transportation, in addition to transportation to and from work.
“Temporary public transportation assistance helps people get jobs, and then, it helps them keep those jobs. Without transportation, neither can happen,” said Everybody Rides Metro’s Executive Director Joe Curry. “In a tough economy, that’s really important.”
Without these free bus tokens, many low-income residents who want to work could not afford their job-related transportation.
“For people returning to a job after extended unemployment or working in a low-wage position, the bus tokens provided by Everybody Rides Metro are truly a godsend,” said Liz Carter, executive director of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. “It’s the difference between getting to work until the first paycheck arrives or losing out on a much-needed job.”
In 2011 alone, the Everybody Rides Metro foundation provided more than 300,000 free rides to more than 30,000 individual riders. This number is expected to grow 10% in 2012, based on partner agency projections. More than one-third of the free rides were provided for job training, an increase over the previous year.
The Everybody Rides Metro Foundation is the first foundation in the U.S., according to Metro, to be formed by a regional transit authority. Everybody Rides Metro has provided more than 1.3 million tokens to low-income individuals for work, medical, education and community trips since the foundation began in 2008. The foundation receives contributions from corporate donors, other foundations, federal grants and individuals.