All people need reliable transportation, and public commuter systems are charged with that. There are a few questions that Rochesterlavoz and other news organizations are asking about equality for commuters. Hourly wage earners and minority groups often rely heavily on public transportation to get to work, yet there seem to be some disparities when it comes to access to public transportation. Here are some of the problems minority groups are facing when it comes to transportation.
The Facts And Figures
According to Policy Advice, about 65% of white Americans own cars. 12% of Hispanics own cars, and about 19% of African Americans own a car. 24% of Hispanics report they have zero access to a car or public transportation because of their geographical location.
A recent study found that there is a mismatch between available transportation and hourly wage jobs. In other words, there may be jobs available but commuters that are most likely to take these positions do not have access to public transportation to get them to the job.
It has been found that one out of ten people depends on some form of public transportation, but of those out of ten, about 16% do not live on the bus line or within walking distance of the bus line. Why? The further you move away from public transportation the cheaper the housing.
On The Outskirts
Many minority community members live just outside of Rochester proper. Getting to work, to medical appointments, and even to get groceries to feed their families can be a struggle. Of course, the easy advice is to move closer to the city, but that is not possible for many families where sky-high rents make it impossible.
There are other solutions instead of telling people to move closer to the city. This inability to access public transportation is not only happening in Rochester. This “commuter problem” is happening in cities across the United States. A recent study looked at four metropolitan areas and concluded that all four areas had a lack of public transportation that hindered minority communities.
Policy Makers Need To Pay Attention
Transportation is key to employment and education. As it is about 51 million school hours are lost each year because of dental disease that mainly afflicts the poor and uninsured. Missing a school bus by a few minutes can mean not getting your kid to school if there is no alternative transportation.
Policymakers can change things. They can push for an expansion of public transportation into areas that are not well served. In this day of easy access to information (about 900,000 new website domains are registered weekly), there is no reason that a policymaker can not tap into the same information that RochesterLaVoz did to see the disparity in services.
Expansion of Public Transportation is Good For Everyone
While the disparity in access to transportation currently affects minority groups and hourly wage earners more than any other group, the expansion of public transportation services can help everyone. Public transportation is good for the economy, good for the environment, and good for the individual.
Keeping a car on the road in NYS is not cheap. Insurance rates are high, and just keeping up with repairs of a daily driver can be very expensive. In the U.S., according to the Federal Highway Administration, about $276 billion every year is spent on vehicle care because of corrosion. What if we could get more people out of their cars and on the bus?
Expanding access to public transportation should be a priority. It would help families in the minority communities and every other community. Policymakers have the power to change things for a lot of people through more targeted planning.
Some solutions can change things for a lot of people, we just need to get policymakers on board with making those changes. Rochester, we can do better.