A new County program hopes to help employees travel to work

  • Date: 02/25/2024

A new pilot program slated to launch by early summer will aim to help central Aroostook County residents without cars to get to work.

Roughly 10 percent of Aroostook County households do not have cars, according to the U.S. Census. In a sprawling and rural county without typical public transportation, and which is tied with Somerset for the second highest unemployment in the state, the new program could make a difference, organizers say.

“Several people have applied for positions and [been] offered positions [with] no way to get there,” said Micah Desmond, Aroostook Regional Transportation System executive director.

The workforce pilot program will be named Aroostook Workforce Connector and is funded by $402,000 in state grant money that will cover marketing, dispatch services and two staffers to drive two vehicles that hold 12 to 14 passengers. The program could serve 40 to 50 people per day.

The idea for Aroostook Workforce Connector came from a local marketing and consulting group called the Aroostook Partnership, which has been focused on three primary barriers of entry to the workforce for Aroostook County: housing, transportation and childcare.

For the past two months, Aroostook Transportation System has been speaking with potential employers and employees to use the workforce transportation pilot program.

The route used for the program is in the process of being finalized by Aroostook Transportation System, and runs alongside the morning and evening shift changes at Northern Maine Community College, Northeast Packaging, Columbia Forest Products, Acme Monaco Corporation, Pineland Farms, Huber Engineered Woods and McCain Foods.

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