People of color in the Twin Cities are losing up to 4 1/2 work weeks every year just getting to work using public transit, according to a new report highlighting racial disparities in Minnesota.
A study by the Center for Popular Democracy looked at the ways in which transit commuters are penalized in comparison with those who go to work by car.
It found that black, Latino and Asian workers have it worst as they are more likely to use public transportation to get to work.
It also found that white people using Twin Cities public transit spent an extra 127 hours commuting every year compared to those using a car, but Asian, black and Latino transit commuters spent an extra 138, 146 and 173 hours respectively traveling to work.
The reason for the racial gap, the center says, is because people of color are more regular users of public transport compared to white people, and so the "time penalty" of transit versus private vehicle travel affects a smaller proportion of white commuters.
In Minnesota, 5 percent of white and Asian commuters use public transport, but this rises to 8 percent among the Latino population, 10 percent among black workers, and 29 percent among American Indians.
"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," the report says.
A table of commuting times in the metro area highlighted the gulf between transit and car use, with a journey from North Minneapolis to Region's Hospital in St. Paul taking 68 minutes by public transportation, compared to just 17 minutes by car.
Calls for improvements
KARE 11 reports the study highlighted the need for transit services to be improved, and made more efficient in areas where people are more dependent on it.
"We've heard so much about the achievement gap in education in our community. There is a transportation achievement gap," Rep. Frank Hornstein, DFL-Minneapolis, told reporters Tuesday, KARE 11 notes.
"We cannot achieve a quality of life for too many people in our community because of this transit disparity that exists," he added.
The Pioneer Press reports representatives of Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, TakeAction Minnesota, ISAIAH and the Center for Popular Democracy, who all sponsored the work, called for more investment in the metro's public transit system on Tuesday.
The newspaper notes Senate leaders have backed measures that would increase Metro Transit funding, while the House's transportation bill would freeze it, leading to possible cuts in services.
FOX 9 says the groups aren't being critical of Metro Transit, instead emphasizing that the metro's biggest transit provider has a "good plan for more arterial transit routes," but needs more funding.