LANCASTER – Thanks to a three-way partnership, Antelope Valley Transit Authority (AVTA) is now providing curb-to-curb transportation to job interviews with the goal of helping job seekers obtain employment in the Antelope Valley.
AVTA’s Employment Travel Program (ETP) rolled out in February with just 18 trips and has grown to more than 250 trips during the month of May, officials announced Tuesday.
AVTA is working with L.A. County 211 and the Los Angeles County Department of Social Services (D.P.S.S.) to help fund and administer this new program. Trips to and from job interviews are provided to clients of Greater Avenues of Independence (GAIN), a D.P.S.S. program that is administered through CalWorks. The GAIN program helps participants find employment, stay employed, and move on to higher paying jobs.
Service levels will likely increase as the program gains momentum in the ensuing months, according to AVTA officials.
The program was initially funded through a three-year, $550,000 Federal Job Access Reverse Commute (JARC) grant, which did not include funding to cover administrative costs.
As a result, AVTA sought help from L.A. County 211, which also had a JARC grant in excess of $2 million for administration expenses to facilitate regional transportation connectivity throughout Los Angeles County. Within a month, the two entities had signed a Memorandum of Understanding to partner, using AVTA’s operating funds and a portion of LA County 211’s administrative funds to improve transportation service for residents seeking employment in the Antelope Valley.
“We knew from the start this was a unique partnership and recognized that both of our agencies would benefit from the collaboration which would ultimately better serve our customers,” stated AVTA Chair Marvin Crist. “At AVTA we pride ourselves on thinking outside of the box and when it comes to putting people back to work in our community it’s vital we be out in front to ensure success.”
The partnership between AVTA and L.A. County 211 soon expanded to include the Department of Social Services, which agreed to pay half of the round trip cost to transport job seekers to interviews and job club activities.
“This is an innovative public-private partnership providing our Antelope Valley residents with a vital resource to help them obtain employment,” stated Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich.
The partnership benefits all three entities, officials said.
AVTA has been able to expand the program’s service level because of the influx of D.P.S.S. funding, and L.A. County 211 has been able to improve regional transportation connectivity by facilitating the partnership, and by administering the ETP at the job club level. Furthermore, the D.P.S.S. can now ensure its GAIN clients have transportation to job interviews if they live farther than half a mile from an AVTA transit route. AVTA’s service area is 100 square miles and the system is challenged with trying to provide public transportation to the outlying rural communities where populations are sparse.
Although curb-to-curb transportation is typically more expensive to provide, L.A. County 211 has reduced the cost per trip by organizing group travel arrangements.
The program is still in its infancy, but organizers believe job seekers will have a significantly better chance at obtaining employment if they can rely on curb-to-curb transportation to reach an interview. The ETP also provides ongoing transportation for a time after a person has been hired in order to facilitate a transition to more permanent travel options. L.A .County 211 works with those newly hired to identify other travel arrangements that will ensure job access on a reliable basis.
“This has been an exciting program to develop from the ground up and we look forward to working with other transit systems in the future who might want to replicate a similar service in Los Angeles County,” stated 211 L.A. County Representative David Serby. “We are confident the success stories will speak loud and clear about the program’s effectiveness.”
The Employment Travel Program is supported by CARELinQ, a 211 L.A. County care coordination and data collection software that enables the project partners to track all trips that are provided and report on the results of scheduled job interviews.
[Information via news release from the Antelope Valley Transit Authority.]