Tuesday, July 17, 2012
A recent report by the Brookings Institution sheds new light on how well public transportation connects jobs to people in Gateway City regions. This research is the mirror image of Brookings report published last year that looked at how well people are connected to jobs. The picture it portrays of the large mismatch between where public transportation is located and where the jobs are in many Gateway City regions isn’t any prettier.
The figures for Worcester are particularly striking. Last year Brookings showed Worcester area residents could reach only 22 percent of jobs in the region within a 90 minute public transit commute. This year’s data show that a 90 minute public transit commute connects the average employer to just 17.5 percent of the region’s workforce; compared to the 100 largest metro area’s nationally, Worcester finishes 81st on this measure.
The Springfield region fares better, ranking 51st among the 100 metros. However, the average Springfield employer still can only reach fewer than one in four workers even with a lengthy 90 minute one-way commute.
Looking at just employers in the city, Springfield businesses can reach about a third of workers; Worcester employers have access to only a quarter of the region’s labor force.
Employers in the Springfield suburbs can connect with fewer than one in five (17 percent) workers. Suburban employers in Worcester connect with just 6 percent of workers, a reality that makes public transit an afterthought. For low-income Gateway City residents, however, there are harsh consequences. Limited public transit in the suburban parts of Gateway City regions where the majority of jobs are now located makes it harder and harder to access economic opportunity.
- Caroline Koch and Ben Forman