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Waiting for the R train: Public transportation and employment


  • Justin Tyndall


Expanding employment opportunities for citizens has become an increasingly central goal of public policy in the United States. Prior work has considered that the inability of households to spatially access jobs may be a driver of unemployment. The provision of public transportation provides a viable policy lever to increase the number of job opportunities available to households. Previous research has yielded mixed results regarding whether household location is an important factor in determining employment status. Several papers have identified mobility as a limiting factor for obtaining a job, particularly in regards to private vehicle ownership. The location of economically developed neighbourhoods and the citing of public transportation are conceivably codetermined, presenting an endogenous relationship. It is therefore unclear if public transportation access is actually contributing to neighbourhood job market outcomes. This paper will use the incidence of Hurricane Sandy striking New York City on 29 October 2012 and the resulting exogenous reduction in public transit access to particular neighbourhoods as a natural experiment to test for the effect of public transportation on employment outcomes. This study identifies a significant causal effect linking public transportation access to neighbourhood unemployment rates, particularly amongst subgroups dependent on public transit.

Suggested Citation

  • Justin Tyndall, 2017. "Waiting for the R train: Public transportation and employment," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 54(2), pages 520-537, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:urbstu:v:54:y:2017:i:2:p:520-537

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    Cited by:

    1. Grisé, Emily & Boisjoly, Geneviève & Maguire, Meadhbh & El-Geneidy, Ahmed, 2019. "Elevating access: Comparing accessibility to jobs by public transport for individuals with and without a physical disability," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 125(C), pages 280-293.
    2. Martinez, Sebastian & Sanchez, Raul & Yañez, Patricia, 2018. "Getting a Lift: The Impact of Aerial Cable Cars in La Paz, Bolivia," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 36, Inter-American Development Bank.
    3. Tyndall, Justin, 2021. "The local labour market effects of light rail transit," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 124(C).
    4. Abu-Qarn, Aamer & Lichtman-Sadot, Shirlee, 2019. "Connecting Disadvantaged Communities to Work and Higher Education Opportunities: Evidence from Public Transportation Penetration to Arab Towns in Israel," IZA Discussion Papers 12824, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    5. Pasha, Obed & Wyczalkowski, Chris & Sohrabian, Dro & Lendel, Iryna, 2020. "Transit effects on poverty, employment, and rent in Cuyahoga County, Ohio," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 88(C), pages 33-41.
    6. Johnson, Daniel & Ercolani, Marco & Mackie, Peter, 2017. "Econometric analysis of the link between public transport accessibility and employment," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 1-9.
    7. Scholl, Lynn & Martínez, Daniel & Mitnik, Oscar A. & Oviedo, Daniel & Yáñez-Pagans, Patricia, 2019. "A Rapid Road to Employment?: The Impacts of a Bus Rapid Transit System in Lima," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 9452, Inter-American Development Bank.
    8. Scholl, Lynn & Martinez, Daniel & Mitnik, Oscar A. & Oviedo, Daniel & Yanez-Pagans, Patricia, 2018. "A Rapid Road to Employment? The Impacts of a Bus Rapid Transit System in Lima," IZA Discussion Papers 12019, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    9. Yanez-Pagans, Patricia & Martinez, Daniel & Mitnik, Oscar A. & Scholl, Lynn & Vazquez, Antonia, 2018. "Urban Transport Systems in Latin America and the Caribbean: Challenges and Lessons Learned," IZA Discussion Papers 11812, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    10. Patricia Yañez-Pagans & Daniel Martinez & Oscar A. Mitnik & Lynn Scholl & Antonia Vazquez, 2019. "Urban transport systems in Latin America and the Caribbean: lessons and challenges," Latin American Economic Review, Springer;Centro de Investigaciòn y Docencia Económica (CIDE), vol. 28(1), pages 1-25, December.
    11. Ana Maria Bonomi Barufi & Eduardo Amaral Haddad, 2017. "Spatial mismatch, wages and unemployment in metropolitan areas in Brazil," REGION, European Regional Science Association, vol. 4, pages 175-200.
    12. Arnon Barak, 2019. "The Effect of Public Transit on Employment in Israel's Arab Society," Bank of Israel Working Papers 2019.03, Bank of Israel.
    13. Bonomi Barufi, Ana Maria & Amaral Haddad, Eduardo, 2016. "Spatial Mismatch, Wages and Unemployment in Brazilian Metropolitan Areas," TD NEREUS 9-2016, Núcleo de Economia Regional e Urbana da Universidade de São Paulo (NEREUS).


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