Early Work Hours in Public Transportation

 Early Work Hours in Public Transportation

Background: “WHEN POLICY MAKERS talk about solutions to inequality, they usually focus on education and jobs. But this conversation largely ignores the need for improved transportation infrastructure to provide access to these jobs and schools. Through better transportation, American cities can provide opportunities for millions to escape poverty. Yet infrastructure improvement wanes, with Washington unable to do anything despite bipartisan support” (https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2015/05/25/public-transportation-can-ride-out-poverty/KtzBMWFo1Xpsqks7NfbYxL/story.html (Links to an external site.), retrieved 12/15/18).

How can public transit help people out of poverty? In communities where there is a lack of adequate bus access and limited taxi/uber/lyft availability due to a spread out metro region, transportation inequality is more pronounced.


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  • Read the scenario.
  • Then read each of the roles in the public, nonprofit, and private sectors
  • Discuss how they can support this individual and/or impact systemic change related to transportation inequality for individuals and families living in poverty.

You should include the following in your discussion:

  1. Discuss the eligibility requirements to receive services. Who is left out due to these conditions?
  2. Is it the responsibility of the private sector to get involved and help?
  3. Is it the government’s responsibility to provide people access to safe, affordable transportation? If so, how?
  4. What are the difficulties in meeting the specified need?
  5. What are possible solutions?

PLEASE NOTE: There is no right or wrong answer…the point is to understand that ALL sectors need to be involved if we are going to effectively address issues that impact people in our communities.

Family Role You are employed as an hourly worker at a fast food restaurant 3 miles from your home. You need to get to work by 5am to help open the restaurant for breakfast. You do not have your own vehicle and have to rely on public transportation to get to work. Unfortunately, the public bus doesn’t start their routes until 5am.
Nonprofit Role 1 You work for an organization called, “ Wheels of Success.” Wheels of Success helps keep working people working so that they are able to support themselves and provide for their families (http://www.wheelsofsuccess.org/about-us/index.html (Links to an external site.).)

Wheels of Success provides Clients with:

● Dependable transportation in the form of a car, truck, or van

● Assistance with automotive repairs, preventative maintenance, and car-care classes for families who have transportation but cannot afford repairs and maintenance

They obtain vehicles through purchase or donation and restore them to good running condition through the support of partners in the automotive industry.

Eligibility Criteria for this program includes (http://www.wheelsofsuccess.org/need-help/index.html (Links to an external site.)):

INCOME: Up to 250% above poverty level.

EMPLOYMENT STATUS: Must be employed or unable to return to work due to transportation issues.

REFERRALS: Must be referred by one of the following sources:

● Social Service Agencies

● Churches

● Employers

● Board Members

Is there a need for this type of program? How could a program like this help individuals living in poverty?

Nonprofit Role 2 You are a pastor at a local church. You have a 15 passenger van that is used primarily on Sundays to transport your members living in senior communities to and from church. Can this van be used to serve other people in the community? If so, how?
Nonprofit Role 3 You are the director of “City Bike Rights.” City Bike Rights is an advocacy organization that promotes cycling and bicycle safety. How can this organization support people who do not have cars and who are not adequately served by local public transportation? What policies can an organization like this propose and/or support?
Private Sector Role 1 You own a chain of fast food restaurants. Your employees have made you aware that although their shift starts at 5 am, public transportation doesn’t begin until 5 am which means they do not have a reliable form of transportation to get to work until at least 5:30am. Is this an issue you need to be concerned about? How can you help solve this issue?
Private Sector Role 2 You own a “bike share” program. You have a contract with the city to supply bikes near bus stops throughout the city. People can pay $1 per ride and can ride the bikes anywhere they want. Would a bike share program be an adequate solution for individuals getting to and from work? Is this an adequate transportation solution for families?
Private Sector Role 3 Your family owns a bus and taxi service. Your family is quite influential not only in your community, but throughout the state. How can you better serve low income individuals? How can you use your power and influence to advocate for better funding for public transportation? How would a private sector company benefit from expanded public transportation funding?
Public Sector Role 1 You are the director of the city transit authority. Due to funding cuts, you have to decrease the number of bus stops in the city. How do you decide which stops to cut? Also, the operating hours of the public transportation are Monday through Friday 5am to 12am. Are these operating hours sufficient? Who cannot benefit from your services due to these hours? How can you better serve all people in the community?
Public Sector Role 2 You are the director of the “Regional Metroplan” organization. This organization is required by your state’s statutes to, “encourage and promote the safe and efficient management, operation, and development of surface transportation systems that will serve the mobility needs of people and freight and foster economic growth and development.” Your operating budget is drawn from three primary sources: federal grants, state grants, and local per capita assessments. How are you working with other municipalities to support people who don’t work “typical” work hours.
Public Sector Role 3 You are a city councilman and represent a low income community. You received a proposal from the city transit authority regarding budget cuts that will impact public transportation services in your district. How do you advocate for the families you serve who rely on public transportation?