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Challenges of Access to Low Wage Jobs in the Suburbs

Companies struggling to get employees to work are turning to a variety of transportation alternatives not traditionally covered by transit agencies.
November 2, 2017, 8am PDT | snewberg | @JoeUrbanist
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Metro Transit buses ready for service at the St. Cloud Transit Center.
Michael Hicks

In suburban Minneapolis, companies with locations in suburban office and industrial parks face obstacles in getting their employees to work. While transit agencies in the Twin Cities, most notably Metro Transit, provide strong service for suburban workers commuting to the downtowns of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, workers making the "reverse commute" from city to suburb, face spotty service. 

The most notable solution to this problem has been made by Amazon, which has a new suburban fulfillment center in the Twin Cities that employs 2,000 people. Amazon is paying a south suburban transit agency, Minnesota Valley Transit Authority, $380,000 to create a special stop on a new bus route and the creation of weekend service. Other companies provide free shuttle buses from locations in Minneapolis to suburban employment locations. 

Caren Dewar, executive director of the Minnesota District Council of the Urban Land Institute, questions whether companies will choose to locate, expand or stay in the Twin Cities if the problem isn't addressed. ULI Minnesota calls this a "regional economic imperative." Getting employees to work is a problem companies face in many metro areas across the country, exacerbated by a sprawling development pattern and a jobs/housing mismatch.

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Published on Monday, October 30, 2017 in Star Tribune
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