Employ Buffalo Niagara connects local employers with residents seeking job opportunities. While job placement is vital to the success of our region, creating opportunity is only step one in addressing our regional workforce challenges.
Once an employee is hired, they must be able to get to their job and all too often, they can’t. The hard truth is that public transportation is not an option for everyone depending on where they live and where their employer is located. Employ Buffalo Niagara facilitates collaboration between experts from diverse industries and entities across the region to address these kinds of problems.
Many people who are unemployed cite inadequate access to transportation as a barrier to finding a job. And while the region’s unemployment rate has dropped by almost two percent since the beginning of the year, that statistic doesn’t include people who are employed but continue to face inadequate transportation options that make life harder and risk long-term employment. Common transportation gaps in Buffalo Niagara include the first/last mile gap and the schedule gap:
There are certainly ways to close these gaps and stop this trend from continuing. But how exactly do we go about facilitating that change? Answering that question is the objective of Employ Buffalo Niagara’s Access & Transportation working group, which includes GOBuffaloNiagara, an organization dedicated to helping employers create sustainable transportation options for employees. The goal is straightforward: get people good jobs and get people to those jobs easily.
By synthesizing data from the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, the New York State Department of Labor, the locations of employers and their shift schedules, we revealed a detailed picture of the transportation barriers facing our workforce. This picture allows us to see exactly how these barriers affect our region, relative to our employers, our residents, our infrastructure, and our progress.
The barriers standing between employers and job seekers are no longer something to be addressed broadly – we can now view the problem through a local lens, and create effective, local solutions.
For example, the data revealed a distinct schedule gap affecting residents of Buffalo’s Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood. Residents employed by Costanzo’s Bakery in Cheektowaga who begin their shifts at 5 a.m. have no feasible transit options available to get them to work. But a potential solution to this problem is the utilization of the Thruway Mall Transit Center as a transit hub. Connecting this transit hub to employers via ridesharing services ensures that workers can reach their destination in a timely manner without walking miles to get there.
This pilot scenario is still in the early stages. While the data sample may have been small, the result was invaluable insight into the nature of the problems facing Buffalo Niagara’s workforce. The inventive, localized solutions that came from this pilot will be expanded upon over the next several months.
For more information on Employ Buffalo Niagara and how to address transportation issues facing your company, click here.