Report: Fresno metro decent in workforce transit

Fresno Area ExpressFresno Area ExpressThe Fresno metro area was fairly adequate in providing transit to its workforce, according to a new report by the Brookings Institution, a Washington D.C. think tank.

Out of 100 of the nation's largest metropolitan areas, Fresno and its surrounding cities ranked 50 in terms of its transit coverage, with 70.3 percent of jobs in neighborhoods with public transit service, 99.1 percent within cities and 28.5 percent from suburbs only.

The region ranked 8 in terms of its labor access rate, with 45.8 percent of the working population able to get to the job site within 90 minutes via public transit, 47.1 percent within cities and 37.1 percent from the suburbs.

The area's finance, insurance and real estate industry led the way with transit coverage at 83.8 percent and labor access at 47 percent, while agriculture lagged at 40 percent and 46 percent respectively.

That compares with the national average of 75.5 percent of jobs in neighborhoods with fixed route transit service, 94.7 percent in the city and 64 percent from suburbs.

Western states were in a slightly better position at 86.6 percent, 95.3 percent and 80.1 percent respectively.

The typical job is accessible to only about 27 percent of its metropolitan workforce by public transit within 90 minutes.

The Bakersfield metro ranked 49 in terms of transit coverage at 70.3 percent while its 90-minute labor access rate ranked 19 at 35 percent.

The Modesto metro ranked 16 for transit coverage at 84.2 percent and 15 for labor access at 38.5 percent.

The report noted that the average distance to work jumped from 9.9 miles in 1983 to 13.3 miles in 2009 while the average number of hours wasted in traffic increased from 14 hours to 34 hours.

Congestion geographically limits business markets, raises business-related transportation costs and forces business to increase wages to compensate for the burden, the report said.

Public transit frees up a lot of that congestion by taking cars off the road, while metros that plan their transit systems to connect with the broadest labor pool fared the best in the report.