Investing

Cities Where Americans Can't Get To Work

10. Augusta-Richmond County, GA-SC
> Job access rate: 19.8%
> Public transportation coverage: 57.9% (8th lowest)
> Zero-vehicle households: 7.3%
> Zero-vehicle households with low-income: 71.2%

Only 58% of households in the Augusta metropolitan area without cars are located near public transportation. As a result, less than 20% of jobs are reachable in at least 90 minutes for those households. A major reason for these low rates is the cost of the city’s bus system. In June 2011, it was decided that the bus system would be privatized, a move that is expected to save the city $400,000 a year, according to The Augusta Chronicle. According to its proponents, privatization may also improve overall availability of transportation.

9. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL
> Job access rate: 19.7%
> Public transportation coverage: 97.2% (8th highest)
> Zero-vehicle households: 8.6%
> Zero-vehicle households with low-income: 63.4%

Miami has one of the lowest rates of job access despite having one of the best coverage for public transportation in the country. The metropolitan area has an exceptionally large bus network that reaches the majority of neighborhoods. However, due to Miami’s size, many households are located a great distance from job centers. There is also a lack of rapid transit, which prevents people from being able to reach jobs in a reasonable amount of time.

8. Orlando-Kissimmee, FL
> Job access rate: 19.6%
> Public transportation coverage: 78.9% (36th lowest)
> Zero-vehicle households: 4.9%
> Zero-vehicle households with low-income: 59.6%

Although a relatively small portion of Orlando households do not own a car, the majority of them are located extremely far away from work. This is especially true for households in the suburbs, where the rate of jobs reachable within 90 minutes is less than half of that which those in the city have access to. To address the issue, Governor Rick Scott approved a new $1.2 billion high speed rail project. The SunRail project has been highly controversial in the Orlando area, mainly due to its cost and low ridership projections. The rail is expected to be fully completed by 2015.

7. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL
> Job access rate: 18.5%
> Public transportation coverage: 88.2% (38th highest)
> Zero-vehicle households: 6.6%
> Zero-vehicle households with low-income: 62.5%

Tampa faces a situation similar to to Orlando’s. The metropolitan area suffers from significant urban sprawl, making it more difficult for those living in the city’s far reaches to get to jobs. According to Tampa Bay on Track, a branch of the Tampa Bay Partnership, Tampa Bay lacks “premium” public transportation options such as “high quality bus, bus rapid transit, or rail.” The organization blames a lack of funding for the city’s problems, an issue caused in part by the falling home values’ impact on property taxes.

6. Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC
> Job access rate: 18.3%
> Public transportation coverage: 88.5% (37th highest)
> Zero-vehicle households: 6.8%
> Zero-vehicle households with low-income: 73.5%

Virginia Beach has an exceptionally high rate of low-income households among its zero-vehicle households. This implies a strong connection between the two. In July of 2011, the Norfolk Tide light-rail system began operations in Norfolk, a city included in the Virginia Beach metropolitan statistical area. According to the Richmond-Times Dispatch, there are plans for the train to eventually extend into Virginia Beach.