A new report argues that the nation’s public transportation systems, which are aimed at 9 to 5 workers, are inadequate for the 17% of workers who work late shifts.
“The nation’s late-shift workers play critical roles in the food service, medical and manufacturing industries, keeping bars and restaurants humming, caring for hospital patients and ensuring that packages are delivered on time, yet many are shut out of the public transportation options available to their day-shift counterparts, a new study finds.
About 17 percent of workers in large metropolitan areas work late shifts, but because they work in some of the fastest-growing industries, those numbers are expected to increase over the next decade, according to a report commissioned by the American Public Transportation Association. Yet, the economic impact of these workers is already significant: Late-shift workers bring home $28 billion in wages a year and facilitate an estimated $84 billion in sales, the report said.
Even so, public transit agencies face significant challenges when it comes to serving this segment of the population, particularly because many are struggling to provide service during the day, when the majority of riders use public transportation.
‘The public conversation around public transportation often focuses on those working the traditional 9 to 5 jobs,’ said Paul Skoutelas, APTA president and chief executive. ‘But this study sheds light on the sometimes forgotten commuter.’
The study argues that offering more transit options for those who work nights and early mornings, can increase retention, reduce absenteeism and boost productivity for businesses at the same time it eases the financial burden on workers. It focuses on options for workers who live in large metropolitan areas — home to roughly 86 percent of the U.S. population.
This is the first time APTA has looked specifically at the needs of last-shift workers, generally defined as those who begin their shifts between 4 and 6 p.m. The study found that these workers are often less educated and make less money than those who work the day shift; their annual median wage is $30,000, about $5,000 lower than the median wage of daytime employees. Because of the lack of transportation options that match their work schedules, they may spend more of their income on transportation, especially if they drive.”
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