A tale of two separate worlds: car owners vs. bus riders

Apr 24, 2018

Credit Center for Governmental Research

Reconnect Rochester says a new report on the intersection between transportation and poverty in Greater Rochester is a call to action for the community and its leaders.

The 52-page report, prepared by the Center for Governmental Research, says a shifting location of jobs from the city to the suburbs has made it increasingly difficult for low-income residents to access employment. 

Pete Nabozny is a board member at Reconnect Rochester, one of the organizations that commissioned the report. He says those who own a car have a great advantage over those who don’t.

"You know, we have these famously short commutes compared to other cities and you're able to access those things, whether it's jobs, services, education, health care, things like that. But, for individuals who don't have cars, getting around and meeting your needs is a real challenge."

According to the report, the average public transit commute time in Monroe County (42 minutes) is twice as long as a commute by car.  The gap is even wider for those living in the city of Rochester. The authors of the report say the local transit system writ large reinforces the disparities that already exist in the community. Those who rely on public transit to get to work don't have a choice. 47 percent don't have access to a vehicle.

Nabozny says solutions include using public economic development dollars to locate jobs along transit lines and creating a regional jobs and transportation plan that benefits the whole community.

"Towns set their own property tax rates and at some level compete with one another for placement of new facilities for jobs and that makes sense on a lot of levels, but what happens is you lack a regional plan,” he said. “What it leads to what we see today - the sprawl of jobs around the county."

While there has been a general discussion about the connection between transportation problems and poverty locally, including within the Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty initiative, Nabozny says the data released today can serve to better focus that conversation.