The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) recently released a study—“Supporting Late-Shift Workers: Their Transportation Needs and the Economy”—which showcases the needs of late-shift commuters and recommends steps transit providers can take to improve commuting options.
APTA acknowledges that a number of Americans work nights and weekends across multiple industries that are expecting to see growth over the next seven years. However, inadequate access to public transit options can hinder members of the workforce from accessing better jobs.
Many public transit agencies around the country operate late shift services but additional services are vitally needed, according to the study. Late-shift transit commuters earn an estimated $28 billion in wages and generate $84 billion in sales each year. Increased late-night transit access will result in access to opportunities for late-shift employees and increase the pool of workers for employers.
Late-shift workers in Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) are 40% less likely to commute via public transit due to inadequate service. Many are much more likely to drive themselves or take advantage of ride-share services like Uber and Lyft. APTA says transit operators, along with business and political decision-makers, have an opportunity to remedy this issue.
Public transit providers face several challenges to running late-night service. The study showcases examples of late-night service in Las Vegas; Pittsburgh; Los Angeles; Detroit; Boston; Battle Creek, Michigan; and North Kingstown, Rhode Island. It outlines innovative ways transit operators can address issues like maintenance, operating costs, and service planning in order to expand existing systems and create new ones.
Some of the proposed solutions for transit operators from the study include extending spans of service by increasing operating hours; establishing programs dedicated to funding late-shift transit operations; increasing investment in transit system state-of-good-repair and shrinking the backlog of deferred maintenance; embracing innovative partnerships to meet late-shift mobility needs; and formalize frameworks to allow employers that benefit most to subsidize late-shift transportation.