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The Suburbanite
  • SARTA to offer free bus passes to unemployed

  • The Stark Area Regional Transit Authority is offering up to three free monthly bus passes to unemployed residents. But the agency is setting one important condition. To get the bus passes, recipients must enroll in the employment programs of any of five nonprofit agencies and apply for the passes through them.

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  • The Stark Area Regional Transit Authority is offering up to three free monthly bus passes to unemployed residents.
    But the agency is setting one important condition.
    To get the bus passes, recipients must enroll in the employment programs of any of five nonprofit agencies and apply for the passes through them.
    The agencies are Goodwill Industries of Greater Cleveland and East Central Ohio, the Greater Stark County Urban League, Trillium Family Solutions, the Stark County Department of Job and Family Services and the Employment Source.
    People who’ve also recently gotten a job can also get the passes during the first two months they’re employed.
    Each pass normally sells for $45. SARTA’s director of planning, Katherine Manning, says a $35,000 federal grant is covering the cost of providing the free passes.
    Manning says the program launched earlier in March. She said SARTA started it after some social service agencies said many unemployed people who didn’t have cars couldn’t afford to use the bus to apply for jobs, go to an agency to get job search help, go to the library to use computers and to go to interviews.
    “It’s a real struggle for them to overcome that,” Manning said. “Just asking (them) to pay for a 10-ride pass or monthly pass, that’s kind of a strain on a very, very tight budget.”
    She said so far 20 to 30 people have gotten the free passes.
    The program will last until the end of the year when SARTA will decide whether to extend it.