Worcester’s Public Transportation 2nd Worst in NE
Friday, July 13, 2012
The Brookings Institute analysis of the country’s top 100 metropolitan areas’ transit systems ranks metropolitan Worcester in 84th place based on the number of jobs that have access to public transportation
Los Angeles was the top ranked city nationwide; 96.5 of all jobs in the metropolitan area have access to public transportation.
The Worcester area also ranked poorly for the percentage of its jobs that can be reached via mass transit. Only 17.5 percent of the region’s jobs can be reached within 90 minutes via public transportation, placing it 81st nationally, the lowest ranking in all of New England.
New England Cities
Portland is the lowest ranking city in New England; only 51.7 percent of the city’s jobs have public transportation access, ranking it 89th overall.
Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT was the highest ranked New England metropolitan area, placing 19th nationally. 82.1 percent of all jobs in the area can be reached via public transportation.
Boston was ranked 41st nationally, edged out by Hartford. In Boston, 75 percent of the regions are accessible via mass transit; 75.4 percent of jobs are accessible by public transportation in Hartford. Providence is ranked 34th, with 77.4 percent of jobs having access to public transportation.
Commuter Access to Mass Transit
The study also analyzed how many people in the metropolitan areas could commute to their jobs using public transportation. With only 17.5% of the population, Worcester is last in New England, ranking 81st overall, the lowest in New England.
“As a metropolitan area, Worcester performs on the lower end of the scale,” Adie Tomer a senior researcher at the Brookings Institute, said. “But within the city limits, service levels are quite good, and 98 percent of employers have access to public transportation.”
Suburban Communities Have Limited Access
Tomer also commented that the area’s service is most lacking in the surrounding communities. According to the study, only 6.4 percent of suburban residents are able to commute to their jobs via mass transit.
“We see lower coverage when you get outside the city limits,” he said.
John Carney, general manager of the Worcester Regional Transit Authority, said he wished the WRTA could provide better service to residents outside of the city.
“Worcester County is a big county,” he said. “But the ridership is such that it does not support having buses outlying communities,” Carney said. “It’s too expensive to bring someone from Southbridge to Worcester via fixed route service.”
Governmental Officials Weigh In
Mayor Joseph Petty weighed in on the issue, and observed that while the metropolitan area fares, especially the suburbs, poorly, city residents have good access to public transportation.
“Residents of the city have substantial coverage through both systems to jobs in the city, surrounding communities and points east to Boston. These systems provide coverage to 98.1% of city residents in a cost effective and efficient manner for people to get and from their current and future places of employment,” Petty wrote in an email to GoLocalWorcester.
Lauren Jones, a spokesperson for Lt. Gov. Tim Murray said “Governor Patrick and Lieutenant Governor Murray have emphasized the need to strategically invest in transportation infrastructure to improve local and regional economies. In Worcester, the Administration continues to work closely with local officials as well as Congressman McGovern and the federal delegation to improve transportation services and facilitate job creation and business growth.”
Only WRTA Considered in In Study
Tomer pointed out that Worcester’s rating only considers individuals who commute and work within the Worcester region, and does not include commuters who use the MBTA.
“This study counts just people commuting within the metropolitan Worcester area. People who commute from Worcester to Boston are not considered part of the study,” Tomer said. "We know that people cross metropolitan areas to work, but we aren't able to include that information in the study."
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