Linking People to Jobs: How Transit Works
by Julie Talbert
After being laid off from her first job, Doll Wilkerson spent time caring for her sick mother until she passed away. Earlier this year, she decided it was time to find a new job. Doll has a disability and thanks MHMR for helping her get hired at Big Lots. The final challenge for Doll was to figure out how to get home from work at night.
Doll, who lives in north Waco, shares this challenge with as many as 26% of residents living in parts of north and east Waco who do not have access to vehicle. Waco Transit’s bus service stops running at 7:15 p.m., leaving many without a way to get to or from work at night.
For now, a solution exists. Doll was excited to learn about the Evening LINK; the first-ever evening transportation service available Monday – Saturday from 8:30 p.m. – 11:30 p.m. Evening LINK is a project of Workforce Solutions in partnership with Waco Transit and several other local agencies.
The Evening LINK is successfully addressing a growing need of residents working non-standard hours. Jobs in the food service, retail, health and medical, and manufacturing industries often require employees to work nights. The Evening LINK provides approximately 400 passenger trips a month using three vehicles and a reservation system to get workers in the greater Waco area to and from work safely, reliably, and affordably. Eighty percent of passengers are employed full time and 90% report that the service is extremely important to keeping their job. More than 60 businesses have employees who have used the Evening LINK.
Doll has been riding the Evening LINK five nights a week for the last three months. The service is helping her meet her goal of “living a healthy and independent life.” At 40, feeling independent is important to Doll and she expresses her excitement about her new life by saying, “My disability may slow me down, but it won’t stop me.”
This Act Locally Waco blog post was written by Julie Talbert. Julie manages the child care and public transportation contracts for Workforce Solutions for the Heart of Texas. She believes that access to affordable, dependable and high-quality early education and public transportation systems are critical to a vibrant community. They are necessary to help us realize a vision of healthy children, strong families, and thriving economic opportunities.
The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email [email protected] for more information.