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Improve Public Transport to Connect Youth with Jobs

Getting a job is impossible if someone has no means of getting to a job. Poor public transport — its high ticket prices, shallow networks, infrequent service, early-ending hours, and in some cases its nonexistence — prevent unemployed youth from being able to reach potential jobs.

Photo of David
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The typical metro-area job is inaccessible to 73 percent of an area's working-age adults within an hour-and-a-half of traveling on public transit. 

In some areas the cost of roundtrip public transportation to work can equal an hour's wages or more. 

People who live in places without public transport in the evening can't accept night jobs because they'll have no way of getting home. 

And others will spend just as much time getting to and from work as they will at work. 

If we're going to get more youth employed, we need better and cheaper public-transportation systems to get them from where they live to places of employment. 
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Attachments (8)


"Job Search, Transport Costs and Youth Unemployment"


"Job Sprawl Revisited: The Changing Geography of Metropolitan Employment"


"Transit and Jobs in Metropolitan America"


"The Connection Between Public Transit and Employment"


"The Geography of Youth Unemployment: A Route Map for Change"


"Youth Unemployment in Rural Areas: What can be done?"


"Commuting in America 2013: The National Report on Commuting Patterns and Trends"


"High Cost or High Opportunity Cost? Transportation and Family Economic Success"


Join the conversation:

Photo of Meena Kadri

Great point, David. A few years back I covered a public transport development in India which took connecting people from low-income communities to jobs into consideration: Thanks for bringing up this valuable topic in relation to our Youth Employment Challenge. There also might be emerging opportunities folks can explore during our Research phase around working from home and from co-working spaces which can reduce the amount of time and effort required to travel to work. Lots of opportunities to look into ahead of our upcoming Ideas phase!

Photo of David

That's great info on Ahmedabad — thank you Meena! It is really good to see bus rapid transit (BRT) being implemented well in India.

In terms of telecommuting: Certainly telecommuting is beneficial for the environment (less travel means fewer carbon emissions), for employers (who can maintain smaller offices or no offices at all), and employees (who save the time wasted in commuting). Telecommuting is not the answer for most low-wage and minimum-wage jobs, though, largely for two reasons. The first is that most minimum-wage jobs are on-site service jobs; cooks, janitors, waiters/waitresses, etc. can't do their jobs remotely. The second is that for telecommuting to be successful the employee needs to have a quiet place to work in the home, and generally an Internet connection, two things that the poorest workers among us tend to lack.

The benefits of detriments to coworking largely depend on how the coworking space is structured and located, But regardless, like telecommuting, coworking tends not to be feasible for the service industry, which are largely minimum-wage jobs.

It's the people who are working minimum-wage and low-wage jobs who are most affected by the lack of adequate public transportation, so while an increase in telecommuting and coworking space would help other segments of the workforce, such interventions are not suitable replacements for improving public transit.

And when it comes to establishing better transit connections for the sprawled communities of the world, developing and expanding bus rapid-transit systems would be a good start.