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The National Academies

TCRP H-20 [Completed]

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for Welfare to Work Transportation Planning and Service Delivery

  Project Data
Funds: $124,970
Research Agency: Multisystems, Inc.
Principal Investigator: Russell H. Thatcher
Effective Date: 10/19/1998
Completion Date: 2/15/2000

It is well understood that welfare recipients seeking to enter the workforce face tremendous mobility challenges. Dispersed employment locations, child-care transportation needs, varied work schedules, and lengthy travel times all contribute to these mobility challenges. In addition, many welfare and "working poor" families do not have access to a car, are headed by single parents, and have preschool-age children. Given their needs to meet family responsibilities, these parents have much greater transportation needs once they are working.

Transit, welfare, social service, and other agencies are assessing the magnitude of these challenges throughout the country in response to welfare to work initiatives. Transit agencies are reviewing their services based on welfare to work needs, and case workers are linking prospective employees with jobs they can reach.

Geographic information systems (GIS) can be a powerful tool for understanding the specific dimensions of these mobility problems. GIS can determine the relative proximity of recipients and employers to transit services; travel time and distances associated with mobility needs; and any obvious gaps in transit service. The spatial analysis provided by GIS, together with its ability to visually display results, can be used to formulate transportation solutions. GIS data can also be used by caseworkers, employment counselors, and employers to help recipients find and reach suitable jobs.

The most basic sets of data for spatial analysis of access to jobs include: (1) digital maps of the transportation system, including transit services; (2) locations of welfare recipients who need to find work; and (3) locations of potential employers. Ideally, the analysis also includes the locations of child-care centers, schools, job training centers, community-based organizations, and other critical service providers.

To date, the use of GIS for welfare to work transportation planning and service delivery has occurred on a varied basis. In some locations, significant use of GIS has already been implemented for this purpose, while in other locations, consideration is just now being given to its possible use. Given the importance of welfare to work transportation planning and service delivery, and the power of GIS as a potential tool in this process, guidance is needed on how agencies can either implement GIS for welfare to work transportation planning and service delivery or enhance upon their current GIS applications for this purpose.

The objective of this research was to develop a handbook providing guidance on the use of GIS for welfare to work transportation planning and service delivery. Supplementing the handbook is a CD-ROM providing graphic examples of the use of GIS for welfare to work transportation planning and service delivery.

The audience for the handbook is intended to include organizations responsible for planning or providing transportation services in response to welfare reform, including trip itinerary planning. The handbook includes a brief review of current practices and recommended model approaches for applications of GIS to welfare to work.

Status: The handbook has been published as TCRP Report 60 together with the accompanying CD-ROM. In addition, the graphic examples of the use of GIS for welfare to work transportation planning and service delivery contained on the CD-ROM have been published as TCRP Web Doc 14. Both TCRP Report 60 (15.6 Mb) and Web Document 14 (18, 258 Kb) are available in portable document format (PDF). Click on the files below to access the documents. (A free copy of Adobe Access reader is available at http://www.adobe.com.) NOTE: Because of the very large size of these files, it will take some time to download. We regret the inconvenience.

TCRP Report 60 Part A

TCRP Report 60 Part B

TCRP Web Document 14

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