Twin Cities transit users of color spend almost 160 additional hours a year commuting when compared to whites who drive to work solo. That's according to a report out Tuesday from four advocacy groups opposing cuts to public transportation funding.
The report "It's About Time: The Transit Time Penalty and Its Racial Implications" cited infrequent service, indirect routes, delays, overcrowded vehicles, and insufficient shelter at bus stops as factors that contribute to a transit time penalty that adds time and stress to each commute. For Blacks and Asians who used public transit, that totaled an extra 3.5 weeks a year and for Latinos it was 4 hours a year of additional time required to travel between two points by public transportation, compared with going by car.
"That means that for a month a year more than white drivers, transit commuters of color are unavailable for working, helping children with homework, helping parents get to the doctor, running errands, volunteering in their communities or participating in their churches," said the report compiled by Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, TakeAction Minnesota, ISAIAH and the Center for Popular Democracy.
The groups released their findings during a news conference at the State Office Building in St. Paul.
As the legislative session come down to the wire and a transportation budget still up in the air, the advocacy groups are urging law makers to approve a bill that would not cut service but allow Metro Transit to move forward with its Service Improvement Plan. That plan calls for an expansion of service that would institute Arterial Bus Rapid Transit, which would speed up service on local urban routes by as much as 30 percent among other things, the report said.
A proposal passed by the Minnesota House would force Metro Transit to reduce regular bus service by at least 17 percent. The fate of that proposal will be decided in the overall transportation spending bill hashed out by the House, Senate and Gov. Mark Dayton
"These improvements can only happen with enough funding. If transit funding is cut, the time penalty is certain to worsen," the report said. "Funding cuts proposed by House Republicans will result in lost service—longer waits, more delays, longer travel times, and more crowded buses and trains."
About 5 percent of whites and Minnesotans of Asian descent commute by public transit, 8 percent of Latinos, 10 percent of Blacks, and 29 percent of American Indians commute to work on public transit.