Waiting for the R Train: Public Transportation and Employment

There has been substantial interest in public policy circles in recent years regarding strategies of “job creation” and fostering “job access.” These terms are rarely provided with concrete definitions and are instead meant to capture an alleged capacity on the part of government to decrease unemployment, or increase the quality of jobs that are available to individuals. Making job opportunities more spatially accessible represents a plausible policy lever for government to improve employment outcomes amongst urban residents. If government improves transportation networks, the number of jobs available to a typical individual will be increased and this could improve the speed with which workers match to firms, and improve the quality of matches. Job access is closely related to issues of urban sprawl and the theory of spatial mismatch; both of which consider spatial gaps between workers and jobs. For populations reliant on public transportation, the ability to access employment is closely tied to the usability and extent of the region’s public transportation network. There is theoretical, and empirical evidence that populations with better access to jobs through public transportation networks enjoy lower rates of unemployment; however, properly identifying this relationship is complex because neighbourhood economic vitality and public transportation provision are codetermined. Locations that occupy geographically central locations, or have exogenously developed as centers of economic activity or affluence, will be more likely to see local public transit investment, due to the higher economic returns to transit infrastructure in such areas. The effect of Hurricane Sandy on New York City’s public transportation infrastructure presents a natural experiment to investigate a causal relationship. Using the truly exogenous reduction in public transportation that occurred in particular neighbourhoods, this study will provide evidence for a causal relationship between public transportation access and local unemployment.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Web
  • Pagination: 1 PDF file, 1.2 MB, 15p.
  • Monograph Title: Canadian Transportation Research Forum 50th Annual Conference - Another 50 Years: Where to From Here?//Un autre 50 ans : qu'en est-il à partir de maintenant? Montreal, Quebec, May 24-26, 2015

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01605047
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: Transportation Association of Canada (TAC)
  • Files: ITRD, TAC
  • Created Date: Jul 26 2016 5:05PM