Public transit and employment outcomes: projecting the impact of the Job Access and Reverse Commute program
The Department of Transportation's Job Access and Reverse Commute program began in 1998. Since then, millions of dollars have been distributed in funding throughout the country. However, as the Government Accountability Office has reported at length, there has been little evaluative work done to assess the program's success in connecting low-income workers to new job opportunities. These newer job opportunities, often located outside the urban core of a half-century ago, are characterized at length in John Kain's spatial mismatch hypothesis of 1968 and the extensive literature and studies that followed it. Does discrimination and lack of access lead to continued lower employment opportunities for low-income, often minority, workers? I use Philadelphia as a case study to project the impact of the implemented JARC programs on the city's workers. Using census tract-level data, this paper will identify the tracts affected by JARC-funded public transit improvements. These improvements or additions were chosen regionally based on their potential to increase accessibility to employment centers in and around the city of Philadelphia. Using regression models to estimate median household income, this paper estimates the effects of an increased level of transit. This is accomplished by increasing the level of public transit in the identified tracts, as the improvements will do, to predict how incomes will change. Such income increases, though not large, indicate a positive relationship between improved transit options and higher wages.
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