Northern Kentucky's transit agency works to link workers with growing employers

Posted at 9:45 PM, Feb 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-28 21:45:35-05

HEBRON, Ky. -- Shannon Owens is a gate agent at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, in Boone County.

Owens lives in Westwood, in Cincinnati.

She doesn't drive to her job: She takes the bus, which means she has a nearly 2-hour commute each way, every day.

With thousands of new jobs coming to Northern Kentucky, the region's transit authority will be key to connecting many people with employment.

The Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky is working closely with area employers to make sure there's connectivity between people, jobs and buses -- all for the economic vitality of the entire region.

"I depend on TANK 100 percent to get me to work," Owens said.

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While TANK has 3.6 million rides each year, reverse commutes, like Owens', are making up a bigger percentage.

"Part of TANK's mission is economic development, and if we can't do our job of getting as many people to work as want to work, then our whole economy suffers," TANK General Manager Andrew Aiello said.

Aiello works closely with Frank Busofsky, TANK's planning manager, make sure the right routes go to the right companies.

"It does add to the cost, but it's what we have to do as a transit system," Busofsky said.

The Kentucky Career Center also is a partner, helping to find qualified applicants for open positions. The center handles 1,500 clients a month, according to center director Barbara Stewart.

"This is going to change the environment here in a very, very positive way," she said. "The opportunities are terrific."

So is the need to counsel people on job skills -- "things like showing up for work on time, work ethic, behaving appropriately, coming back after lunch," Stewart said.

But transportation is just as vital for people seeking jobs. Michael Tucker, of Latonia, knows how much: He has a car, he said, but it's not always reliable. So he takes TANK to better himself, like others do.

"If they have access to a bus, and TANK is actually getting them to where they need to go to get a job, it kind or takes away the excuse of 'I can't get there so I'm not going,'" he said.

TANK isn't going solo in this effort. It's also partnering with the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority, operator of Metro, to make sure there's a seamless, regional transportation plan in place.