FRTA launches taxi service to help workers with transportation barriers get to 2nd & 3rd shift jobs

NEWS RELEASE                      CONTACT: 
For Immediate Release          Michael Perreault - FRTA Assistant Administrator
April 12, 2020                          (413) 774-2262 or michael@frta.org
                                                Andrew Baker – FHWB Special Projects Coordinator
                                                (413) 376-5459 or andrewbaker@masshirefhwb.org
FRTA launches taxi service to help workers with transportation barriers get to 2nd & 3rd shift jobs – new pilot project in Franklin County leverages the power of partnership
(Greenfield, MA) The Franklin Regional Transit Authority (FRTA) is partnering with a team of non-profit service providers and local businesses to launch a taxi service specifically designed to help Franklin County residents secure and keep late shift jobs.  The taxi service will provide the transportation they need to get to Franklin County businesses and home again. 
The pilot program, through December 31, 2021, enables people who are just getting employed but may have transportation difficulties – a broken car, suspended license or lack of funds to buy a car – to get hired and stay employed by signing up with the FRTA for taxi service to work.  The program can also assist late shift workers who lose their transportation due to accidents, breakdowns, expensive repairs, or other challenges.
Anyone wishing to use the taxi service to get to work can get started by contacting FRTA Assistant Administrator, Michael Perreault, at (413) 774-2262 or michael@frta.org to set up a taxi contract. 
The contract can be short term or longer term and allows the rider free transportation for the first month of employment.  If usage extends into a second month the rider pays half the Access fare rate.  For a third month and beyond the rider will pay the full Access fare rate.  Rides can include drop offs of children to childcare facilities.  According to Perreault, “the contract aims to help people solve a temporary problem, or create a bridge to allow users to fix or buy a car and become self-sufficient.”
The pilot program is funded by a $150,000 grant from the Metro Area Planning Council (MAPC) that FRTA was able to secure by recycling a successful “micro-transit” grant proposal to MassDOT that was awarded and then withdrawn last year when the COVID lockdown began in March, 2020.  According to Michael Perreault, “It became clear pretty quickly that we were not going to be able to transport people in vans due to COVID risks.  The MAPC grant is allowing us to offer an individualized Uber-like service by contracting with local livery and taxi companies.”

The MassHire Franklin Hampshire Workforce Board (FHWB) approached FRTA a year ago with a partnership proposal to team up on transit-assisted job development.  Now, a year later, the FHWB and the MassHire Franklin Hampshire Career Center are reaching out again to work with multiple non-profit partners – Community Action, the Housing Authorities, Center for New Americans, The Literacy Project Greenfield Community College, and temp agencies – Harmon and Reliable Temps – to advertise the new FRTA taxi service throughout the year at job fairs, social service agencies and education sites.  Employment counselors can use the new service to help match job seekers with employers as many entry level job openings are on 2nd & 3rd shifts.
While the taxi service will transport workers to a late shift job at any business, health care and manufacturing are the two major employment sectors in Franklin County where most of the 2nd and 3rd shift jobs take place.  For that reason, the Workforce Board recruited ten Franklin County employer to co-sponsor the original grant program.  They include Baystate Franklin Medical, BETE Fog Nozzle, Buckley Health Care Center, Charlene Manor, Charter NEX Films, Farren Care Center, Hillside Plastics, Mayhew Steel Products, Pelican Products, SWM International, and Yankee Candle Villages.  These companies, all clustered in the core Franklin County towns of Greenfield, Montague and Deerfield, collectively employ about 3,500 workers and will be a core focus of the new taxi service.
Andrew Baker, Special Projects Coordinator at the FHWB, adds “our area employment counselors and service agencies meet many job seekers who lack transportation to get to work. Until people know they have a reliable way to get to and from a 2nd or 3rd shift job that starts or ends at 11:00pm or midnight, they tend not to apply.  This potential workforce will become visible and available to employers now that we can offer a reliable transportation option.” 
Now that a transportation solution exists for workers in the late evening hours when there is no fixed route bus service in Franklin County, the challenge is on to find riders and make employment matches. Michael Perreault of the FRTA concludes, “we’re excited to have a flexible transit option, glad to have so many partners, and eager to make this work.”
For more information, contact Michael Perrault at the Franklin Regional Transit Authority: (413) 774-2262 ext. 105 or michael@frta.org or Andrew Baker at the MassHire Franklin Hampshire Workforce Board:  (413) 376-5459 or andrewbaker@masshirefhwb.org
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