The Twin Cities’ public transit system has a racial divide when it comes to how long it takes to get to work says a new study from several progressive advocacy groups.
The study found that Asian, Black, and Latino who commuted to work on the bus or train spent 11 to 46 hours more a year to get where they were going than white public transit riders.
The study from Neighborhoods Organizing For Change, TakeAction Minnesota, ISAIAH and The Center For Popular Democracy found that infrequent service, indirect routes, delays, overcrowded vehicles, and insufficient shelter at bus stops contribute to the transit time penalty.
The divide is even wider if you compare solo white drivers in cars to people of color riding the bus or a train. For example, a solo white driver spends 191.2 hours commuting every year. A Latino public transit rider spends 364 hours commuting a year. That’s 90% more time than the solo white driver – which means every year Latino transit users spend the equivalent of nearly 4.5 weeks of work more than white drivers on their commutes alone.
At transit stop near the capitol, Bernard Moore of Brooklyn Park confirmed that buses don’t run often where he lives. If he misses the 9:15 a.m. bus, he has to walk six miles or wait more than three hours for the next bus. His other option is walking 25 minutes to catch the 7:23 a.m. bus. “That sucks when you have to walk that far for a bus.”
Those longer transit times have an economic impact.
Lesley Anne Crosby she had to give up a job in Eden Prairie that paid more than $20 an hour because of the added transit time. “I had to wake up at 5 o’clock in the morning to get there. I had no life. My shift ended at 4 and I wasn’t getting home until…7 or 8.” Winter was worse because if the bus was early or she was late she would spend an hour standing on a highway waiting for the next bus. “It made it very hard for me to work. I had to quit that job because at the end of the day I was spending more time in transit than I was at home, than I was even at work.
“What good is a job if you can’t get there,” said Rep. Frank Hornstein (DFL-Minneapolis) who along with Rep. Rena Moran (DFL-St. Paul) is urging legislative leaders and Governor Mark Dayton to include improving transit funding in this year’s budget. Republicans are opposed to raising Minnesota’s gas tax to fund transportation. Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk recently said that Minnesota didn’t need to pass a transportation bill this year. Hornstein said the transportation bill is part of the end of the legislative session negotiations. “There is a lot of momentum building for a transportation solution this session.”
Video at top: report highlights and riders talk about the transit problems they face daily
Video below: full news conference on the report