Ed. Note: This blog is cross-posted from fastlane.dot.gov.
As Chairman of the federal Coordinating Council on Access and Mobility, I’ve enjoyed collaborating with my colleagues across the government to better coordinate our transportation, housing, medical, and other services on behalf of America’s neediest citizens. Today, I’m thrilled to announce the fruits of our latest collaboration, the Veterans Transportation and Community Living Initiative.
The new FTA initiative will invest $34.6 million in 55 different "one-click, one-call" transportation resource centers across the country, bringing more transportation choices and better job access to a very special group of Americans—our military heroes, veterans, wounded warriors, and their families.
Many military families live in suburban and rural communities where long car commutes eat up the family’s gas budget, and public transportation options are limited. The projects funded by this initiative will bridge the transportation gap by helping states and communities build or expand centers that offer information on local transportation options by phone or internet.
Later today, I'll visit the Duval County Veterans Memorial Wall in Jacksonville to announce a Veterans initiative grant for $1.9 million to help the Jacksonville Transportation Authority create a one-call, one-click transportation resource center. This is one of six grants totaling $7.3 million across Florida, which is home to thousands of veterans and active-duty military personnel.
These projects will make it possible for veterans to check bus and van schedules online or over the phone and to schedule rides with vanpools or private transportation companies. Better coordination means better service, for everyone.
We want to make sure that military veterans and their families can take full advantage of the transportation resources in their communities. "One-click, one-call" centers will better connect them with a range of reliable, affordable options to get to work, the supermarket, their kids' day care center, school, medical facilities, and other essential destinations.
The Obama Administration is committed to the idea that every service member who returns home or relocates to a new community should have a reliable ride to earn a reliable paycheck. As the President's Veterans Employment Initiative takes off, and as the veterans jobs provisions of the American Jobs Act move forward, more jobs will be available to our military heroes.
As more jobs materialize, the one-call and one-click centers we're supporting with this initiative will help newly hired veterans find reliable, affordable transportation to get to work and back home again.
This program is also a great fit with the "Joining Forces" effort led by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, which is mobilizing all sectors of society to give our service members and their families the opportunities and support they deserve.
I’m grateful to our partners on the Coordinating Council—the Departments of Veterans Affairs, Labor, and Health and Human Services—who are contributing in a variety of ways. Additional support was also provided by the Department of Defense and more than a dozen national veteran service organizations.
Thank you to everyone who supported this initiative, and thank you to America's veterans and their families for your tremendous service.
Ray LaHood is the Secretary of Transporation.