I recently came across an interesting article from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, “A Long Ride to Work: Job Access and the Potential Impact of Ride-Hailing in the Pittsburgh Area.” (While the content was interesting in itself, it also made me think about a column in our magazine this month by Aradhna M. Oliphant. She provided a few highlights from her TEDx talk on the parallels between cities and leadership.)
A Long Ride to Work found that while Allegheny County residents typically have shorter commute times than other regional counties of its size or the nation as a whole, approximately 20 percent of transit commuters experience commute time of more than an hour each way.
What’s even more alarming for employers is that the study found that four of the top 10 employment centers have access to less than 5 percent of the county’s workforce within a 60-minute transit commute — places like Carnot-Moon, which has the highest concentration of low-skill jobs.
This is a continuing problem for many cities. Columbus, which doesn’t have a light rail system, has struggled with the same thing. The local social enterprise EmpowerBus, for example, charges employers a weekly flat rate per bus to provide transportation for employees. The organization provides the bus, the driver, organizes routes, handles logistics, insurance, etc.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland’s study of Pittsburgh’s environment explores another possible avenue for increasing job access: using ride-hailing services to supplement public transit. I thought this was a great idea for Pittsburgh, which has unique challenges, due to its geography and city layout, adding to its public transit system.
However, the study found that “the difference between commute times with ride-hailing and without ride-hailing, tend to favor workers with higher wages and higher educational levels.” Obviously, ride-hailing isn’t the only answer to help connect low-wage workers to jobs, but it is something to think about.