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Breaking Barriers to Employment

jarc logo combinedFor many low-income job seekers and employees in Bernalillo County, lack of transportation is a barrier to employment. Rio Metro Regional Transit District’s Job Access Reverse Commute Program, known as JARC, helps lift those barriers to transportation by matching people with and subsidizing (for a limited time) public transit and other types of transportation options.

“The program helps low-income individuals get to and from work or work training,” says Jocelyn Martinez, Job Access Program Support Coordinator for Rio Metro. “We help a lot of people who are in transitional periods.”

How it Works

JARC is available to people who live in Bernalillo County and meet income eligibility requirements. Participants also need to complete an application to qualify for the program. Once qualified, they can receive JARC benefits for up to one year.

There are a few types of transportation options available through the program. Participants who can get to their job or training program using public transit will receive an ABQ RIDE bus pass. If they can’t reach their destination using the bus, JARC will provide subsidized demand transportation rides.

“Many people who work graveyard or early morning shifts don’t have access to public transportation,” says Dominic Montoya, Special Project Planner with Rio Metro, explaining one of the circumstances under which the demand transportation rides would be provided.

abq ride bus newFor all participants, fares are waived for the first 60 days of the participant’s eligibility. After 60 days, qualified participants who take the bus can continue to ride at no cost for up to one year. Those who receive a subsidy for other types of transportation, such as taxi rides, will start paying a nominal fee of $1-2 dollars cash per trip depending on their income after the initial 60-day period, and will also be required to pay any amount over $20 per trip. Everyone participating in the program must go through a recertification process after six months.

Rio Metro also partners with the Esperanza Community Bike Program, which requires JARC clients to attend their City Cycling and Roadside Maintenance classes in order to earn a refurbished bike and helmet to assist with the first and last mile of trips taken on public transit. As part of the JARC eligibility application, individuals are asked if they are interested in the Earn a Bike Program.

How to Apply

Applicants are encouraged to visit the Rio Metro website, www.riometro.org, and scroll over the ‘Access’ tab to find the JARC application and income eligibility requirements. Applications can be printed out dropped off at the Rio Metro office, or mailed to the same location.

“If an applicant doesn’t have the resources to print out the application, they can drop by our office and pick one up,” says Martinez. The Rio Metro office is located at 809 Copper Ave. NW, Albuquerque, NM 87102.

Once an application is turned in, it goes through a review process. The review process can take up to, but will never exceed 30 days. Once a JARC representative has confirmed program approval, the client may begin scheduling rides.

Transportation to Childcare

For individuals with small children, JARC will also provide transportation to childcare facilities on a work or job training day. This service is available for clients with children ages 5 and under.

“We transport them from home to daycare to work, and then from work to daycare to home,” says Martinez. Clients do need to provide a car seat when using the demand transportation services.

Community Partners

bike wheelJARC has ongoing relationships with a variety of area organizations to help secure transportation for their staff and clients. “We partner with Goodwill, Catholic Charities, Lutheran Family Services, Maya’s Place, Crossroads for Women, Probation and Parole, and other agencies,” says Martinez.

JARC staff also looks for ways to reach out to the community to tell people about the program. “We like to go out to job fairs so we can tell people about the service; transportation can be a huge barrier to finding a job,” says Montoya.

According to Martinez, there are currently between 60-100 people participating in Rio Metro’s JARC program at anygiven time, and that number is always changing. Once a client has completed a year in the program, they are no longer eligible for the JARC service.

“One of the goals is for our clients to save enough money during the time that they are on the program to provide transportation for themselves independently after the one-year period,” says Montoya. “It is a transition program; it encourages independence.”

If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about or applying for the JARC program, visit www.riometro.org and scroll over the ‘Access’ tab at the top of the screen for program information, income guidelines and an application. To schedule an appointment to meet with a JARC representative, call (505) 843-1930. Appointments are available Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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