Did you know that a leading factors for residents of Clark County not being able to find a job is inadequate transportation? Statistics show that an average of 8% of people in the Las Vegas area do not have access to a vehicle. In Reno alone, it is estimated that 7,264 households do not have access to a car. For those who have access to a car, the lack of affordable parking and high gas prices can add additional stress to their job search or daily commute. Many people, including a majority of HopeLink clients, rely on public transportation. Too often riders are inconvenienced by delayed or limited schedules that don’t fit their needs or routes that don’t fully get you where you need to go, like work, on time. Further, this issue disproportionately affects low-income individuals and communities of color. It also affects the economy, as businesses may struggle to find qualified employees due to transit barriers.
Here are some of the ways that inadequate transportation in southern Nevada affects employability:
1. Inaccessibility to job interviews and first days of work
Lack of ample and reliable transportation options can make it extremely difficult for individuals to attend job interviews or their first day of work. This puts them at a disadvantage in the job market and can result in missed opportunities or job loss if they cannot consistently make it to their place of employment. Just imagine how much this can impact a person’s career and overall success. In southern Nevada, this problem is exacerbated because public transit is often unreliable and does not cover all areas. Steve, a Las Vegas resident, says that he missed job interviews because the bus was late or did not come at all.
Joni, a former HopeLink client and a single mom living in Henderson, spent two hours each way on the bus to get to work on the Strip and home again each day. She could not send her kids off to school or be home to make them dinner and ensure they did their homework.
This is the same for most people who rely on public transit to get around southern Nevada. Most jobs are not within walking distance, making it even harder for those without access to a car. Enhancing public transit systems and providing affordable options for those without a car are important steps in addressing this issue.
2. Increased stress and financial burden for those who do have access to a car
For those with access to a car, the lack of affordable parking and high gas prices can add additional stress and financial burden to their job search. This can make it difficult for them to consistently attend job interviews or travel to their place of employment. This is rampant in Nevada, where parking fees can be quite expensive, especially in popular tourist areas. Additionally, with gas prices constantly fluctuating, it can add an extra financial strain on individuals looking for employment. Statistics show that the average gas price in Nevada is $0.05 higher than the national average of $3.88. HopeLink makes an effort to provide gas gift cards to clients so we know they can fill their tank and get to work.
This issue can also affect businesses as qualified employees may struggle to afford the expenses associated with driving to work. Implementing policies that make it easier for people to carpool or bike to work can help alleviate some of these concerns. Providing affordable and accessible parking options can make a difference in reducing stress and financial burden for those with access to a car.
It’s easy to say, “live close to where you work” but with high housing prices, ever increasing rents, and lack of affordable housing, households find and live where they can afford to live. In some cases, that means they live 20 or more miles from where they are employed.
3. Disproportionate impact on low-income individuals and communities of color
The inadequate transport system disproportionately affects low-income individuals and communities of color. This is because they often have less access to personal vehicles and rely more on public transit. They may not have the financial means to afford the expenses associated with owning and maintaining a car. It is important to address this issue and ensure that all individuals, regardless of income level or race, have equal access to job opportunities. Maquez, a Mexican immigrant, says that “not having access to reliable public transportation has limited my job prospects because most jobs were not within walking distance, and I couldn’t afford the expenses associated with a car.”
In Nevada, enhancing public transportation and providing affordable transit options for those who do not have access to a car can help address this problem. Through policy interventions such as these, we can work towards promoting equity and eradicating systemic inequalities in the job market. Nobody wants to be held back from achieving their full potential due to a lack of transit options.
4. Negative impact on the economy as a whole
An inadequate transport system not only affects individual job seekers but can also have negative impacts on the economy. When individuals cannot consistently attend job interviews or their place of employment, it can result in lower productivity and efficiency. This can lead to decreased economic growth and hinder the overall success of businesses. The movement towards enhancing public transit and providing affordable transit options for those without access to a car can help address this issue and ultimately benefit the economy.
Local governments must prioritize and invest in transit solutions that address this problem. It is all about funding and ensuring that everyone in southern Nevada can be mobile.
5. Reliance on an unreliable public transit system
Many individuals, particularly those without access to a personal vehicle, rely on the public transit system for employment. However, in many cities and towns across the country, the public transit system is unreliable and does not adequately meet the needs of its users. Job opportunities may be inaccessible due to infrequent and unpredictable buses or trains or a lack of transit options in certain areas. This can lead to missed job opportunities and difficulty maintaining steady employment. Again, local governments must prioritize and invest in enhancing the public transportation system to ensure all individuals have equal access to job opportunities. This can also benefit the economy by promoting productivity and efficiency in the workforce. Local governments should also consider alternative transit options, such as bike-sharing programs, park and ride lots with express buses to industrial or high-density employment areas where hundreds of people work, van pools, and even trains to supplement a reliable public transit system.
Good examples to look at are Seattle, Washington and Portland, Oregon where over time, as they realized the need for more mobility options, they added more transportation alternatives for residents and visitors.
The issue of inadequate transportation is critical and needs to be addressed, as it can significantly impact individuals’ ability to find and maintain employment successfully. Enhancing public transport and providing affordable transit options, particularly for those without access to a car, can help alleviate some of the associated issues. It is essential to consider its disproportionate impact on low-income individuals, people with disabilities and communities of color.
It all comes down to the “F” word! FUNDING
I encourage you to watch the video conversation I had with M.J. Maynard, CEO of the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada. It’s eye opening and you may find yourself in favor of voting for increased transit funding in the future. If we want it, it is up to us to let our lawmakers know, to have our voices heard and to support the RTC, an agency doing the very best they can with the current funding they receive, which is not nearly adequate.
CEO, HopeLink of Southern Nevada