|Photo by Joseph Schulz|
Deb Martin, who has been volunteering since March, says more drivers are needed to expand the program.
After helping workers get to their jobs more than 1,000 times in 2019, the Winnebago County Catch-a-Ride Program is seeking more drivers to help fill gaps in transportation and reduce employment barriers.
Currently the program only has seven active drivers, causing new rider applicants to be placed on a waitlist, according to Greater Oshkosh Economic Development Corp. CEO Jason White.
In early January, GO-EDC received a grant from the Basic Needs Giving Partnership, a collaboration between U.S. Venture Fund and other organizations aimed at eliminating poverty. White said the grant funds will extend the program for another three years and fund a workforce facilitator position to recruit drivers.
He added the new position will support the program by recruiting drivers, employers and riders as well as by coordinating between GO-EDC and its partners in the program.
“We're really excited about this,” White said. “This could be a real success story about how a midsized metropolitan city can create partnerships to boost workforce development and enhance the quality of life and income prospects of people that want to work.”
Currently riders pay 25 cents a mile for car service, while drivers are reimbursed at the rate of 58 cents a mile.
The need to fill transportation gaps became apparent to White shortly after GO-EDC's inception, when human resource managers began telling him they had open positions that couldn't be filled because qualified candidates lacked reliable transportation to and from work.