Abstract

Getting to work, keeping appointments, and taking advantage of employment support services require suitable transportation. Many low-income Californians do not own cars and, outside of large metropolitan areas, public transit services are often sparse or non-existent, making it difficult for jobless individuals to make the transition from welfare-to-work. The challenges are especially great for those trying to get from central-city residences to suburban jobs, so-called reverse commuters, since public transportation services have traditionally been aligned in the opposite direction. Propelling the growth in reverse commuting has been a number of powerful megatrends. Topping the list has been decentralization of employment, spawned by such factors as cheaper real estate prices on the outskirts and telecommunication advances that have allowed suburban back-offices to easily communicate with central-city core offices. Spatial mismatches have been blamed for the persistent problem of concentrated unemployment in California’s inner cities. Those with minimal education and work skills are increasingly isolated from the many entry-level and service-sector jobs in the suburbs. Many inner-city residents with suburban jobs work late-hour shifts and on weekends, periods when many buses and trains do not operate. This study: (1) defines the existing reverse-commute marketplace in California; (2) identifies and evaluates existing public transportation services in terms of their success and responsiveness in serving reverse-commute and job-access demands; (3) examines unmet mobility needs; and (4) proposes policy initiatives and strategies that hold promise for significantly improving reverse-commute services throughout the state.

Disciplines

Urban, Community and Regional Planning

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URL: http://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/crp_fac/17