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Transportation ServicesWHITE PAPER APRIL 2018Oklahoma Works: Building Oklahoma’s future workforceWWW.OKLAHOMAWORKS.GOV

About Oklahoma WorksOklahoma Works is an initiative designed to increase the wealth of all Oklahomans through providingeducation and training for citizens to obtain quality employment. Our aspiration is to implement wealthgenerating policies across the state, helping all Oklahomans to achieve the American Dream.Since 2014, Oklahoma Works has been striving to create a better workforce development infrastructurein the state by aligning education and training with employer needs and coordinating private and publicstrategic priorities and plans across education, training and economic agencies. The initiative aims tofacilitate quality employment for workers and improve the availability of highly skilled talent forbusiness and industry. The initiative is a coalition of state agencies, educational institutions, businessesand other partners working together on four main objectives: Aligning and connecting the education and training pipeline with the needs of the state’sregional economies;Integrating and using workforce and economic development data to inform policy, trackprogress and measure success;Building partnerships between local industry and education at the regional level; andOptimizing the use of resources and incentives.

ContentsExecutive Summary. 1Overview of Transportation in Oklahoma . 3State Efforts and Best Practices . 4Oklahoma Works Efforts . 7Next Steps and Considerations . 10Resources . 11

Executive SummaryPublic transportation services arecritical to the well-being of Oklahomansand to the economic health of the state.Without dependable transportation,Oklahomans cannot get to work, school,job training, health care services, orother vital resources needed to achievethe American Dream. For many, theroad to economic stability begins withobtaining the education and trainingneeded to enter and succeed in theworkforce. For some, the journey isderailed before completion simplybecause they do not have a vehicle tophysically attend. Businesses also feelthe effects, with thousands of goodpaying, vacant positions going unfilledbecause qualified workers cannot befound.When Oklahoma Works began, dozensof partners, including state agencies,workforce partners, business leaders,and others, convened to carry out a strategic planning process aimed at aligning efforts to strengthenthe talent pipeline, reduce duplication, and fill gaps in the system. Repeatedly, transportation arose inthese conversations as a significant barrier to Oklahomans entering and succeeding in education,training, and the workforce. Partners shared stories about students who became disconnected fromeducation and training programs because they could not consistently get to class, and workers losingjobs because they lacked reliable transportation to ensure timely and consistent participation in workactivities.The resulting Oklahoma Works Strategic Delivery Plan established transportation services as a corestrategy needing to be addressed across the state to better align and connect the workforce system.With the Strategic Delivery Plan serving as the blueprint for developing a stronger, more streamlinedsystem, Oklahoma Works began the task of mapping out existing assets within the state, linking to otherstatewide transportation initiatives, and exploring innovative ideas to get more people who lack reliabletransportation to work and school. These efforts were not without challenges.Transportation is a complex, multi-faceted issue for every community. Factors such as funding,geography, population, and regulations all play a role in the availability, accessibility, and quality ofpublic transportation available. In order to bring about system improvements in these areas, we musthave access to more information to truly understand community needs. Barriers to improvementidentified through our efforts include:1

A lack of data related to the overall need for public transportation by particular populations;Limited state and federal funding to expand routes; andGeographical challenges associated with the state’s vast rural areas.In order to ensure a skilled workforce for the state and continued economic development, we must findways to make public transit, in urban and rural areas, more available to all Oklahomans. For more than ayear, we have persisted in our efforts, attempting multiple strategies with limited success. We havecollaborated with statewide teams focused on public transportation, partnered with educationinstitutions to explore innovative pilot projects, implemented tools to collect needed data andinformation, and explored policy changes and financial models to improve the state’s current publictransit system. However, the fact remains that without additional resources, both research andfinancial, devoted to public transportation issues, progress will remain slow.2

Overview of Transportation in OklahomaOklahoma has four urban transportation systems located in Lawton, Norman, Oklahoma City and Tulsa.Urban transit providers operate fixed route service, meaning vehicles make stops at regular, pre-scheduledintervals and locations. Additionally, these operators offer on-demand services typically reserved forpeople with disabilities. On-demand services must be scheduled by a rider hours or days in advancedepending on the policies of the individual provider.There are an additional 20 ruraltransportation systems throughout thestate, which primarily provide on-demandservices. Rural on-demand services maybe offered to any resident of ageographical region, or in some cases, beavailable only for certain purposes, suchas pre-scheduled doctor’s appointments.Tribal nations also receive funds toimplement public transportation. Manytimes Tribes partner with local transitoperators to blend funds and service bothtribal and non-tribal members. Sometribes only provide on-demandtransportation to tribal members to get toand from work and/or health careappointments.Approximately half of transit providers inthe state provide services Monday through Friday only, typically running between the hours of 7 a.m. and 6p.m. The remainder of providers run services Monday through Saturday, beginning between 5-7 a.m. andrunning until 9 p.m. – 1 a.m. There is currently no public transportation available to riders on Sundays inthe state of Oklahoma.Public transportation is funded by a combination of federal, state and local dollars. Fares vary based on thedistance of the ride, and many operators offer reduced fares to certain populations, such as students,seniors, and Medicare/Disability recipients.A comprehensive asset map with details specific to each transit operator is available on the OklahomaWorks website.1 Also available are route maps2 identifying the location of fixed transit routes in relation tolarge employers and education and training rks.gov/transportation-services3

State Efforts and Best PracticesOklahoma has made recent strides in making public transportation more available, accessible, and ofhigher quality. Whether it be through cross-agency collaborations or regional alliances, partnershipshave been key to this success. All of the below efforts have played a role in easing barriers toOklahomans getting to work, school, and job training.MyRide—StatewideMyRide—Statewide is the only one-call/one-click clearinghouse of public transportation resources in thestate. Users can easily locate rides through MyRide’s extensive database, which is populated with all knownpublic transportation resources throughout the state’s 77 counties. The database includes all forms oftransportation, including private transit providers like taxis and ride-share services. MyRide is a free oneclick web application accessible to anyone with a computer and internet access by visitingwww.myride.ok.gov. Those without internet access may dial 844-OKMyRide (844-656-9743) to obtain thesame information through the one-call toll-free hotline. The hotline is operated 24 hours a day, seven daysa week by call center specialists at HeartLine 2-1-1. MyRide-Statewide was developed by OklahomaInteractive (OI) at no-cost and is maintained by the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services(OKDRS).United We Ride CouncilThe Governor’s United We Ride Council assesses the availability, efficiency and quality of the state’s publictransit system. The Council collaborates with partner agencies within the state, public transportationproviders, the Alliance for Public Transportation, Oklahoma Transit Association, the Association of CentralOklahoma Governments, and regional Councils of Government (COGs) to advise in the development oftransportation planning and support the implementation of solutions to Oklahoma’s transportationproblems. In December 2017, the Council put forth recommendations to improve the coordination ofpassenger transportation providers. Among the recommendations were: Equitable agency cost-sharing;Fostering of innovative partnerships (public, private, faith-based, non-profit)Expansion of MyRide into a true mobility manager that allows for purchasing transportationservices; andIncreasing transparency and accountability through policy development such as requiring theestablishment of system goals, operator performance metrics, professional development, andpublicly-available annual reporting.Regional Transit PlanningIn 2014, the Governor signed House Bill 2480, which allowed for the formation of a Regional TransitAuthority (RTA). A RTA gives local cities the option to ask voters for additional property or sales taxes fora light rail or other public transit projects. As state and federal funding for public transportationfluctuates, the RTA can serve as model for developing new, creative funding streams, increasingefficiency and coordination of community transportation across Oklahoma, and strengthening regionaleconomic development. In the Oklahoma City Metro Area, the Association of Central OklahomaGovernments (ACOG) is leading the charge to create a RTA. To date, the mayors of Del City, Edmond,Midwest City, Moore and Norman, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with ACOG on thecommitment of staff and financial resources needed to create a Regional Transit Authority Task Forcefor the purpose of developing a RTA.4

Rides to WellnessStarted in April 2015, the Rides to Wellness Initiative is a coalition of partners working to increasecollaboration between health and transportation providers in order to improve the coordination of nonemergency medical transportation services. The initiative’s goals are to: increase access to care, improvehealth outcomes, and reduce health care costs. Oklahoma’s 90 members span 40 rural counties andrepresent hospitals, clinics, state agencies, health departments, social service organizations andtransportation users. The initiative hopes to receive grant funding through the Federal TransitAdministration to further its goals.Veterans’ Ride ConnectThe Indian Nations Council of Governments (INCOG) began implementing the Oklahoma VeteransAccess (OKVA) Transit Project in 2011 through grant funding from the Veterans Transportation andCommunity Living Initiative (VTCLI). The OKVA Transit Project has evolved into Veterans’ Ride Connect,which is the first-ever mobility management center in Oklahoma. Veterans’ Ride Connect is acooperative agency of six founding transit providers working together to provide transportation servicesto veterans in more than 25 counties. This regional model is the type of successful regional planningneeded in the state.Business Bus PassEnid Public Transit has launched the Business Program Pass, which allows organizations to purchase abus pass with a dedicated destination. The program is designed to help low-income riders by permittingorganizations to pre-pay for rider fares to particular destinations. The organization can then distributethe pass to riders and be confident the rider will use it for the intended purpose only, as drivers do notaccept them for other travel destinations. Permitted destinations currently include travel to and fromwork and medical appointments. The pass is laminated with a bus pass and a business card. Thebusiness card shows the acceptable pick up and destination locations. Trip passes may be for single dayuse or may include up to ten rides on a multi-ride pass. The program allows transit costs to bedistributed more equitably and offers low-income, low-skilled workers a means to enter and persist inthe workforce.Muskogee Re-Entry Pilot ProjectMuskogee is currently implementing a pilot program for inmates re-entering communities designed todecrease recidivism. Failure to pay fines, fees and other expenses frequently contribute to a cycle ofincarceration. This pilot allows judges to sentence people to the program as an alternative to jail, andexisting inmates may be eligible for early release into the program. As a part of the pilot, offenders areconnected with supportive services, including behavior health, mental health, substance abuse, workforcetraining, and housing. Offenders are provided transportation vouchers to and from work, meetings, andother necessary appointments. By providing all of the essential services necessary for a successfultransition, Muskogee aims to prevent future incarcerations and increase workforce participation amongthis population.University of Central Oklahoma Safe Ride ProgramDuring the 2016-2017 school year, the University of Central Oklahoma (UCO) launched a partnership withUber to provide free ride sharing services to students on weekend evenings. The program allows enrolledstudents to use a promo code to request up to six rides per semester on Thursday through Saturday nightsbetween 9:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m. within a defined geographical region. The program offers free rides tostudents up to 15 and is geared toward reducing drunk driving. Such a collaboration between an5

education institution and ride sharing service offers a unique opportunity to adapt this model for daytimeservices that assist riders in getting to education, training and workplaces.Chickasaw Nation Road to Work ProgramThe Road to Work program provides a low-cost alternative for rural commuters traveling to and fromwork. The program aims to reduce transportation costs for Chickasaw Nation employees and enablemore Chickasaws to find jobs. Buses pick up riders at central locations in each community served andstops at the place of work of each rider. Routes vary and participants must schedule rides a day inadvance. The Road to Work program is available to all riders, however discounted fares are offered toAmerican Indians (Chickasaw or CDIB).6

Oklahoma Works EffortsIn late 2016, Oklahoma Works began its efforts to identify transportation barriers for the state’sworkforce and find solutions to implement. The following strategies have been carried out to date:Resources, Assets and Route MappingA statewide asset map and layered routemaps of existing public transit routes weredeveloped to understand the currentresources available to Oklahomans travelingto work, school and training. Fixed routeswere mapped in relation to the location oflarge employers and regional education andtraining institutions to identify service gaps.As a result, 15 gaps were identified related tolarge employers, and 11 gaps were identifiedin relation to education and traininginstitutions. From this list of businesses andinstitutions, one was selected to explore apotential pilot program based on thefeasibility of a number of factors, includingneed and existing resources.Pilot Program ExplorationOklahoma Works began by researching stateand national promising practices to identifypotential pilot programs for implementationor expansion. Two promising models that seemed ripe for adaptation were the Business Bus Pass Programand the UCO/Uber Safe Ride Program. Based on data gathered from the transportation asset map,Oklahoma Works explored opportunities for collaborations to expand public transportation to studentsseeking technical education or a two-year degree. Ideas discussed included:Public-Private PartnershipPublic-Private Partnerships have long been recognized as mutually beneficial collaborations betweengovernment and private sector entities to build and strengthen the infrastructure necessary to helpeconomies grow. These partnerships may take many different forms. For instance, a private non-profitserving similar populations, may partner with an education institution to split the cost of a vehicle anddriver to transport clients/students to job training and education. Education institutions may also leveragetheir foundation branches to raise private funds toward the purchase of a vehicle, offer grant or emergencyfunds to assist students in need of transportation vouchers, or partner with a local business to sponsor thecost of transporting employees and/or students to postsecondary education and training. Businesseslooking to build their workforce may even purchase transportation vouchers for their employees to get theadditional training needed to advance in their company or industry.Shared Use AgreementsShared Use Agreements, sometimes known as Joint Use or Community Use Agreements, are arrangementsbetween government entities that agree to sharing equipment, facilities, or property in order to maximize7

the benefits available to the community. In this case, Shared Use Agreements entail the sharing ofinstitution owned vehicles (i.e. buses) to transport community members to education institutionsregardless of district, grade, or age. Such agreements frequently require legal consultation to identify anddiscuss any issues that may arise concerning liability.Contracted ServicesContracted services can also support innovative practices. With the rise of ride-sharing services, such asUber and Lyft, it has become easier to transport students and employees to pre-determineddestinations at low costs. Such transportation services can be conveniently scheduled through a mobileapp and offer more flexibility than fixed route transit options. These types of contracted services can beamenable to those individuals who typically have occasional access to a personal vehicle, but may nothave consistent access to reliable transportation.BarriersWhile exploring different structures under which to pilot a new project to close transportation gaps, tworecurring barriers were identified: lack of data and lack of funding. Without the data to quantify the trueneed for transportation services, it is difficult to raise funds or seek partners to share costs associated withpublic transit. Expanding existing services can also require large financial investments. Extending existingfixed route services to new locations, even just a couple of miles, creates large expenses on transitproviders, including such things as additional wear and tear to vehicles, service costs, staffing expenses,fuel, and more. Another barrier to creating innovative programming is that anecdotal evidence suggeststhere is not a large need for daily transportation services. Frequently partners hear from students andemployees who may only need access to public transit options for a couple of days or weeks while apersonal vehicle is under repair or while their regular ride sharing arrangement is unavailable (such as afamily member or friend). Without a consistent ridership, investment in new public transit routes, vehicles,and partnerships becomes difficult.Liability was another concern that arose when exploring Shared Use Agreements. Several barriers wereidentified with this model. First, Oklahoma has strong local control, which means such agreements aresubject to each individual secondary school district. This is problematic for postsecondary institutions(CareerTech, Colleges and Universities) whose student population lives in multiple K-12 districts. If onlysome of those districts entered into agreements, certain segments of the population could remainunserved. Second, having adults on the same bus as young children creates institutional liability.Background checks may be required for adult riders, which may create a financial burden on the individual,employer, institution, or other entity sponsoring the transportation service. Third, in times of limitedresources, shared cost agreements may be difficult to negotiate.Identifying the need for data regarding need, Oklahoma Works attempted to survey Oklahoma adultswho are not currently attending postsecondary education to determine to what extent transportationhas played a role in non-completion. The survey was executed through a social media campaigntargeted to key adult demographics, including: Low-wage workers; Young adults with some college or training but no degree; Adults without a high school diploma; and Oklahoma City metro area residents.Unfortunately, the response rate to this survey was low, yielding ungeneralizable results.8

In addition to surveying these adult populations, who are generally not touched by the state system,workforce development program data was collected from the state’s case management system. Thesedata indicate nearly 500 people enrolled in Adult, Dislocated Worker and Youth workforce programs hadtransportation needs at intake or assessment between July 2017 and April 2018. However, at the localand regional levels, there is not a consistent question that is asked of clients seeking workforce servicesor a consistent time frame during program participation at which such questions are asked. That makesunderstanding the needs of clients across the workforce system hCentralSouthernTulsaWesternLocationsClinton, El Reno, Guthrie, Holdenville, Norman,Oklahoma City, Seminole, ShawneeMuskogee, Okmulgee, Stilwell, Tahlequah,WoodwardBartlesville, Miami, PryorDuncan, t 3%Ada, Atoka, Hugo, Idabel, McAlester, Poteau654.88%Sapulpa, Tulsa915.40%Altus, Enid, Ponca City, Stillwater628.32%Statewide Total 4924.74%*NOTE: Numbers may include duplicated counts if participants are enrolled in more than one program.9

Next Steps and ConsiderationsThe first step required to continue forward movement of this work must be the collection of data toidentify the true needs associated with transportation services. This can be done is several ways,however embedding questions into existing data collection practices and processes would be mostefficient. This includes having state agencies and education institutions add consistent or similarquestions to existing surveys, enrollment forms, etc., inquiring about transportation access and needs ofclients. In addition to existing data collection tools, surveying through promoted and targeted socialmedia posts can yield additional data about the needs of individuals who may not be touched throughexisting state programming.Another necessary strategy to take is beginning a dialogue with businesses who may have largepopulations of lower-wage workers to determine their interest in helping those employees gainadditional training and education in the industry in order to move into higher-skilled jobs. Part of thatconversation will need to include employer-sponsored educational benefits, including transportationvouchers.Finally, additional resources will be required to see any large-scale change. However, financialinvestments are contingent upon the collection of data indicating where funding should be targeted tomake the largest impact. Such funding may include additional federal or state dollars, as well as privatefunds from non-profit entities and/or business and industry partnerships.10

ResourcesChickasaw Nation. (2017). Road to Work Program. Retrieved k-Services.aspx.Oklahoma Office of Workforce Development. (2017). Transportation Services. Retrieved Oklahoma Works. (2015). Oklahoma Works Strategic Delivery Plan. Retrieved fromwww.oklahomaworks.gov/about.United We Ride Council. (2018). Governor’s United We Ride Council 2017 Annual Report. Retrieved fromhttps://www.ok.gov/unitedweride/.11

in the state by aligning education and training with employer needs and coordinating private and public strategic priorities and plans across education, training and economic agencies. . Oklahoma has four urban transportation systems located in Lawton, Norman, Oklahoma City and Tulsa. . www.myride.