The text of this document and any images (e.g., photos, graphics, figures, and tables) that are specifically attributed (in full, or in coordination with another group) to the California Department of Transportation may be freely distributed or copied, so long as full credit is provided. Published in Research Report: UCB-ITS-RR-2002-7, September 1, 2002, pages 1-326. Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Berkeley. This study was funded by the Federal Highway Administration and California Department of State Planning and Research program.
NOTE: At the time of publication, the author Cornelius K. Nuworsoo was affiliated with the University of California, Berkeley. Currently, May 2008, he is Assistant Professor of Transportation Planning in the Department of City and Regional Planning at California Polytechnic State University - San Luis Obispo, CA.
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.
Urban, Community and Regional Planning