Lack of access to affordable and reliable transportation can be one of the biggest hurdles to finding and keeping a job. Rio Metro’s Job Access Transportation Program was developed to help low-income individuals overcome transportation obstacles by providing transportation to work and employment training.
“We provide reliable curb-to-curb transportation to low-income residents of Bernalillo County,” says Jocelyn Martinez, Program Support Coordinator II, for the Rio Metro Regional Transit District. “Individuals can use it to access employment, job training, and daycare if needed.”
How It Works
The program provides affordable transportation via taxi, bus, or ride share services 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Participants can use the service for job or employment training drop off and pick up, to travel between multiple job locations, and to and from daycare services on a work or job training day for children ages 5 and under (client must provide car seat).
To participate in the program, which is funded through the Federal Transportation Administration, an individual needs to qualify by meeting the 150% Federal Income Eligibility Guidelines or currently be receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Participants must also live in Bernalillo County and successfully complete an application.
After the application is approved, participants qualify for an initial six months of rides. “After six months, we re-certify participants and they may qualify for another six months,” says Martinez.
All-in-all, individuals may use the program for a total of one year. According to Martinez, one of the goals of the program is for individuals to save enough money during their time participating in the program to provide reliable transportation for themselves independently after the one-year time period.
According to Martinez, the first 60 days of rides are free.
“The first 60 days free really helps,” she says. “We have individuals who would be spending between $10-50 per trip, so people can save money.”
After the initial 60 days of free trips, rides cost either $1 or $2 for each leg of the trip based on the Federal Income Guideline. If a ride exceeds $20, Rio Metro pays for the first $20 and the participant covers the remainder of the fare. Those who qualify for ADA pay a discounted rate of $.50 per trip regardless of length.
Spreading the Word
Martinez, who has been overseeing the Job Access Transportation Program since 2014, says she gets a lot of applicants via word-of-mouth referrals.
“I get a lot of referrals from the drivers, and from individuals working for companies where they see their colleagues get picked up and dropped off,” she says.
Often job locations will also let people know about the program.
Martinez sees great value in the Job Access Transportation Program.
“This is a transitional program to encourage independence. I’ve spoken with people that used the money they saved while in the program towards the purchase of a vehicle. It’s great to hear these success stories and to see how well the program works,” she says. “And it’s really rewarding work because we are helping people stay employed or get employed with reliable transportation.”
Learn More and Apply
Visit the Job Access Transportation Program page on Rio Metro’s website for more information about the program, including qualification guidelines, application, and a list of frequently asked questions.
For additional assistance, or to request an application by mail, call (505) 724-3623.
Read the Ride Rio Metro Blog
Visit the Ride Rio Metro Blog for more posts and resources related to public transportation in New Mexico.