Public transit is an investment in stronger local economies that ultimately help support more vibrant, diverse, and connected communities.
Businesses need to be able to attract and retain employees. That’s never been as challenging in our lifetimes as it is now. Public transportation not only connects the workforce to local businesses looking to fill positions, but also helps greatly expand the pool of potential applicants.
The relationship between public transportation and local businesses could best be described as a symbiotic one. Local businesses benefit from strong public transit to stay connected to the local workforce and those same local businesses and employees help support and grow public transit. It truly is an economic win-win.
While a strong workforce is critical to the success of a business, access to a large and diverse audience of customers is equally important.
Just as public transit helps expand the pool of employees and workers for local businesses, it also plays a critical role in connecting businesses to a larger universe of potential customers. Ultimately, that means local businesses aren’t limited to the foot traffic they might see in their individual neighborhoods or the people who can drive to their locations, but can reach an much wider audience of consumers.
That’s why so many businesses, large and small, view proximity to public transit as a major consideration when choosing a location for opening or expanding their operations. As businesses compete for customers, public transit provides a way for them to expand their reach to keep customers coming through their doors.
Economic benefits don’t just happen at the micro level. Across entire cities and regions, when communities invest in strong public transit options, local businesses, workers, and communities all benefit. That’s because, from a purely economic standpoint, public transportation delivers massive returns on investment:
Essentially, public transportation generates a positive economic ripple effect that reverberates throughout our communities, strengthening local businesses, creating new opportunities for the local workforce, and lifting up local economies.
While public transit is a critical economic driver in general, it is particularly transformative for low-income and minority communities. In many of these communities, lack of transportation options can often translate to lack of economic investment, which means fewer local businesses and job opportunities.
Public transit can help attract the kinds of investments in these communities that encourage new businesses to take root and begin creating even more local jobs.
Access to safe, reliable public transit options is critical for women-owned businesses in particular. According to the American Public Transportation Association, most riders who use public transit (55%) are women—many of whom are using it to get to and from their jobs or places of business.
A recent study by the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) also indicates that “female entrepreneurs view transportation limitations as a more significant obstacle to their economic activities” than their male counterparts. This can have a limiting impact on where women-owned businesses are able to locate, forcing many women entrepreneurs to “keep their businesses ultra-local, even at home.”
The bottom line is, communities that strengthen, improve, and expand public transit options will expand economic growth and opportunities—for all their citizens, and especially for low-income and minority communities and women-owned businesses.
Ultimately, investing in public transit means we can all benefit from more vibrant communities and stronger local economies that support a more diverse, connected workforce and better connections between businesses and customers. That’s good news for all of us—whether we ride public transit daily, rarely, or not at all.