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Poor public transport in the North limits job opportunities

Words: Huw Morris
Buses in London - transport infrastructure

Unaffordable or unreliable public transport is posing a ‘significant barrier’ to jobs for residents of low-income neighbourhoods in the North, according to latest research.

A study published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation says poor public transport is constraining rather than enabling people getting jobs. Low wages are limiting commuting choices because of the trade-off with high transport costs.

The prospect of poorly paid and insecure work is limiting the areas where people look for jobs, finds the research.

Local public transport systems have also not accommodated the increasingly dispersed geography of lower-skilled employment. It reveals that living near to city centres “does not necessarily increase employment opportunities if the work does not match aspirations, skills or experience” .

The research, which looked at Harpurhey and Hattersley in Greater Manchester and Seacroft and Dewsbury Moor in the Leeds city region, says residents with experience of low-paid and skilled work involving irregular shifts or hours continue to look for this kind of employment. But concerns over the quality and quantity of work led to a “pervasive sense of labour market insecurity that shapes perceptions of viable commutes to work”.

The study recommends that planning should make sure that new housing and employment developments are well served by public transport to reduce travel costs, times and distances between homes and work. Combined authorities and metro mayors are particularly well-placed to drive this agenda given their central role in co-ordinating policy and growing focus on tackling poverty and inequality.

The research is available here.  

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