By: Kimberely Brown
Spartanburg, SC (WSPA) – A growing workforce seeking to fill jobs, could find that unreliable transportation is a barrier.
In downtown Spartanburg there is a central place where all of the city buses converge, people get on and go to their perspective destinations.
A recent study done by the city shows that ridership has decreased by 6% every year over the past few years.
Finding a way to keep transportation in step with growth can be challenging it’s an issue Spartanburg is facing.
“A lot of people live more in the city center who have transportation barriers And a lot of the job opportunities are out in the county,” United Way of the Piedmont, Director of Financial Stability, Hannah Jarrett said.
According to Jarrett people who face obstacles with jobs, transportation or living accommodations come to them.
“The majority of the people who we transported during that 10 month period they went from a status of unemployed to employed and so that just told us that the main barrier to their employment was not having transportation.” Jarrett said.
Many of the people we spoke with at the bus statoin did not want to go on camera, but a new study completed by the city of Spartanburg shows that limited routes and limited hours have a big impact on ridership.
“In light of this study we would certainly welcome any chance to have conversations with partners about ways we can increase our efficiency and actually meet people’s needs better.” City of Spartanburg, Christopher George said.
Recommendations from the study include, more bus shelters, efficient bus routes and longer bus hours.
“60% of the bus riders who took the surveys are employed and the question for them is whether or not it serves their needs in getting transportation to work.” George Said.
Many of those jobs are in the county away from most bus routes. The city is looking into possibly talking to county officials and even some major companies about a partnership.
” One thing that was mentioned in the study is the idea of vanpooling, which is something you work with your major employers to do if they have a lot of employees.” George said.
One thing the United Way of the Piedmont is trying to address is the stigma of riding public transportation. In bigger cities people from all economic backgrounds take public transportation because of the convenience. Spartanburg has opportunities to grow its transportation system to make it just as common as any other city.
Through a grant from the department of labor, the United way of the Piedmont, S.C. Works and Spartanburg Community College will run a 3 year program focused on providing transportation for people to get to work.