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Transportation barriers are regularly identified as persistent challenges to finding, securing and maintaining employment for lower-income workers and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) participants. Specific barriers include a mismatch between the location of jobs and affordable housing, access to reliable automobiles, limited public transportation routes, and lack of adequate coverage for shift, “off hours,” and weekend schedules. Research on these key issues is featured in the Transportation section of the SSRC, along with resources on different types of programs, such as car ownership programs, transportation subsidies, travel vouchers, and other State and local approaches to transportation access for low-income individuals.
View recommendations from the SSRC Librarian on Transportation and relevant federal laws and regulations below.
Lack of access to reliable transportation--whether public transit or a privately owned car--can pose significant challenges for low-income individuals, especially those in rural areas, seeking stable employment. In response, community-based organizations and federal agencies have developed programs which provide transportation subsidies and vouchers to assist low-income individuals in traveling to job interviews and jobs. Subsidies and vouchers offered vary by program, with some programs providing support for purchasing a used car and others providing funds for public transit fares, gas, and/or repairs. Click the phrase below to view selected research and resources on transportation subsidies and vouchers.
Below are selections from the SSRC Library on programs which provide Transportation Subsidies and Vouchers to low-income individuals. Click the titles to learn more about the research.
In urban areas job vacancies often exist but poor, minority residents tend to be concentrated in neighborhoods with limited geographic access to these jobs. Using a randomized field experiment with public transit subsidies, the author tests whether this spatial mismatch of workers from jobs causes poor labor market outcomes. (author abstract)
The Ticket to Work (TTW) program was designed to promote employment by enhancing the market for services that help people receiving disability benefits become economically self-sufficient. To date, the Social Security Administration has successfully begun the market enhancement process by putting the core elements of the TTW program in place across the country mailing a Ticket to more than 11 million disability beneficiaries and inviting them to use it as a way to obtain meaningful employment; implementing new rules that allow beneficiaries to attempt to work without fear of triggering a review of their disability status; and enrolling service providers, or employment networks, that offer beneficiaries new choices for providers and service mixes. Early impacts from this report to Congress suggest that TTW slightly increased beneficiary use of employment services in 2002, the first rollout year. However, the increase did not appear to produce a corresponding increase in beneficiary earnings or a reduction in benefit payments during the first two years. The authors note that impacts for 2004 and later may be larger as participation rates continue to increase, and many nonparticipants say they plan to assign their Tickets. Nevertheless, analysis of trends in TTW payment data suggests that the program would have to induce future shifts in beneficiary behavior that are much larger than what has been observed so far in order to generate the level of exits from the program envisioned by Congress. In particular, meeting the exit goal will require TTW participation to increase substantially and a larger share of participants to earn enough so that they no longer receive cash benefits. (author abstract)
The objective of this study is to examine the extent to which participation in a small-scale vehicle donation-and-sales program in Vermont increases earned income by individuals in transition from welfare to work. Using reduced-form random effects and censored regression models to account for the simultaneity of decisions to work and participate in welfare programs, the authors examine the impacts of this vehicle acquisition program for a small group of individuals. (author abstract)
Legislative and regulatory requirements frame allowable programs and initiatives designed to increase low-income individuals' access to affordable, reliable transportation. Click the first link below to view legislative resources specific to transportation programs. Click the second link to browse additional self-sufficiency legislation and policy in the SSRC library.