2018 Activities and Accomplishments

4Q 2018: Having more than doubled its operations in 2017, TFT entered 2018 with a plan to more than quadruple its operations in 2018.  Additional funds were needed to meet higher WRTA fare prices.  More important was the gain in the number of Partner Charities supported.
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News

  • This quarter, TFT received two important grants. A $1,500 grant was received from the Reliant Foundation of Worcester MA. A $2500 grant was received from the Greater Worcester Community Foundation. Donations from individuals raised another $2,000, for a total of $6,000 for the quarter.
  • For the whole year of 2018, TFT raised $25,482, which was 83.% of its annual goal of $31,700!
  • Demand for the TFT Job Fare program continues to be below expectations. As a result, TFT enters 2019 with a year-end surplus, despite falling short of its 2018 fundraising goal.
  • TFT has added the Refugee & Immigrant Assistance Center of Worcester (RIAC) as its latest Partner Charity. The RIAC is involved in a multitude of free support services for refugees and immigrants (mostly refugees) who have recently moved to the greater Worcester area. RIAC also has offices in Boston and Lynn.

Continued Growth of TFT Operations

Having more than doubled its operations in 2017, TFT entered 2018 with a plan to more than quadruple its operations in 2018.  Additional funds were needed to meet higher WRTA fare prices.  More important was the gain in the number of Partner Charities supported. In January of 2017, TFT served 9 Partner Charities. In January of 2018 TFT was serving 21 Partner Charities; in December of 2018 the number of TFT Partner Charities had climbed to 26. As the year progressed, TFT annual spending grew in 2018 at the same 250% growth rate as in 2017. 
 
TFT did add one Partner Charity per quarter, as planned, and finished the year with 26 Partner Charities. The Partner Charities added during 2018 were: Net of Compassion, Everyday Miracles, Worcester Connections Family Resource Center and the Refugee and Immigrant Assistance Center of Worcester. 
 
During 2018, two partner charities, Planned Parenthood and Straight Ahead Ministries, were removed and replaced.  Straight Ahead Ministries was replaced with EPOCA (a support group for ex-felons). These two charities share one monthly set of 10 day-passes.  During the winter months only, TFT continues to support Hotel Grace, the cold weather overflow homeless shelter located at St. John’s Church near the WRTA Hub.

Fundraising

As anticipated, fundraising during 2018 depended more on the receipt of grants from foundations and trusts, with eight grants ranging from $1,000 to $5,482. The percentage of money raised from grants, as a percentage of the total raised, went from 22% in 2017 to 72% in 2018.

Second Program Launched

TFT launched its second program, the Job Fare Kit, in April. This program provides a 31-day WRTA bus pass in a kit (packaged in a large brown envelope), which also contains a voucher for a free haircut and several other cards and pages with information that is useful to a person of low income or no income who is starting a new job. So far, the people receiving these kits have been unemployed an average of 18 months. As you would expect, being able to take the bus to work and earn a couple of pay checks before being on their own for transportation is greatly appreciated. Demand for the kits has been lower than originally estimated, but is getting stronger.

Expanding Advocacy for Public Transportation

TFT has been supporting a variety of efforts to advocate for public transportation. This started in 2017, when the WRTA was forced into a financial crisis due to level funding of all the Massachusetts regional transit authorities in the state budget, which runs from July to June. Fixed routes were dropped and prices raised.  Everyone was more organized entering 2018, expecting the same issue would occur with the state budget starting in July. Level funding was again the position of the Governor, but this time extensive lobbying by various Worcester organizations convinced the legislature to add the extra money to the final budget. No routes were dropped and no fares were increased. 
 
Shortly thereafter, the WRTA Administrator decided to leave. After several months of an interim administrator, a new permanent administrator has been hired and will be on board soon to tackle the same potential crisis, as the Governor and the legislature head into the negotiations for this year’s state budget. (Stay tuned!) 
 
The same groups that came together to form the Transportation Advocacy Coalition (TAC), has also managed to raise the profile of the importance of public transportation within the greater Worcester community. In mid-December, the TAC hosted a one-day conference in Worcester on public transportation with over 100 attendees, including the recent leader of the Massachusetts senate, Harriet Chandler, and representatives from the Mass Department of Transportation. In a related effort, but also with support of the TAC, a bus rider, Candria Gray, has been added to the WRTA Board of Directors. Ms. Gray is also co-chair of a TAC subcommittee, the Ridership Advisory Committee (RAC) that meets monthly with the WRTA Administrator. The RAC is composed of riders and providers and provides a voice for riders to give the Administrator direct feedback on the quality of bus service. One of the RAC members has started a Facebook group called Riding the Bus, where any rider can post his or her experience or opinions.
 
Tasks for Transit has been a participant in this activity since its founding in 2015. During this year, 2018, some substantive accomplishments have been realized. We hope it will be as successful in 2019.

Stats from the March 2015 launch of Tasks for Transit through December 2018

5
Partner Charities
$ 22164
Spent on Bus Fares
5170
Bus Passes Dispensed
14
Job Fare Kits Dispensed

More to explore

Eight Perspectives on Homelessness in Worcester

1Q 2020: According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) a person is homeless if they are staying/sleeping in a shelter or in a place not fit for human habitation (i.e., there are sheltered homeless and there are unsheltered homeless).

Tasks for Transit Accomplishments for 2019

4Q 2019: TFT’s plan for 2019 was to continue its steady growth by adding four Partner Charities to its network. As has been done for the previous two years, one more was added during each quarter of 2019. TFT ended 2019 with 30 Partner Charities.

The Status of the Fare Free WRTA Idea

3Q 2019: In April 2019, the Greater Worcester Research Bureau published a report analyzing the possibility of the WRTA running a “fare free” bus system. Other cities, e.g., Portland, Oregon, are doing this or have done it in the past. Clearly, a fare-free WRTA would be a great benefit for those living in poverty.

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