This is the second and final phase of our investigation into the reverse-commute challenges facing low-income inner-city residents in Onondaga County. With lower-wage jobs proliferating outside the city core, our findings confirm that transportation remains one of the greatest obstacles to landing and keeping entry-level work.
The current transit system does not meet the needs of low-income workers living in the city or employers based in outlying neighborhoods or the suburbs. Although a majority of manufacturing employers contacted for this study said transportation shortfalls do not affect their ability to hire and retain workers, other stakeholders jobseekers, job developers, service providers, county planners, and transit professionals—insist the problem is real: Jobseekers with few skills and limited access to transportation struggle to find employment while employers in other key sectors, notably hospitality and health services, contend with the consequences in the form of high turnover, tardiness, absences, and vacancies, as noted in our 2008 report, "Catch That Bus..."
Inadequacies in the local transit system will affect the county's longer-term economic vitality. Current concerns about air pollution, environmental conservation, energy costs, and strained municipal budgets add to the urgency of addressing the interrelated issues of employment, transportation, economic development, and sprawl. Collaboration among key stakeholders—the County, Centro, employers, private transit operators, service providers, and town boards--is necessary to advance the parties' mutual interests.