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In early 2012, I wrote about the enormous government help Xerox received to open a call center at its Webster campus. The incentives were so generous, Xerox essentially didn’t pay for the retrofit of one of its buildings. Taxpayers subsidized Xerox so it could offer low-wage jobs.

Now, Xerox is getting help again. The state is kicking in money to help RTS get workers to the remote facility. RTS is reinstating a late night line, as well as weekend service.

In a press release, Heather L. Smith, Senior Vice President of Delivery Transformation and Global Capabilities for Xerox Business Services, said:

“The impact of the bus reinstatement is profound. When we announced this to our employees, we were overcome by their positive and emotional response. Our employees are conscientious and do what it takes to get to work on time. In fact, one woman shared that taking the bus means she will no longer spend $50 a day to get to and from work.”

It doesn’t seem to occur to Xerox it played a role in that poor woman’s plight when it decided to open a call center where few people live, one that’s not regularly serviced by transit, and to which it is nearly impossible to walk or bike.

In the future, companies seeking government help to add jobs should be required to locate those jobs near their employee base. If they choose not to, they should be required to pay RTS for their transportation. (Some companies and nursing homes, including Xerox, already pay RTS to cover some of the cost of getting employees to work.) Xerox got another government handout when it got the state to pay for this bus line.

Here’s why the idea of locating jobs near people is important. The Brookings Institution found only two-thirds of jobs in the Rochester metropolitan region are in places served by buses. Even worse, fewer than one-third of residents can get to a job within 90 minutes on a bus. The study found people have an easier time getting to jobs in the city than in the suburbs. Almost all city residents live super close to a bus stop.

When jobs sprawl, there are costs to infrastructure and the environment. But there are also social costs. Poor people get left behind. The Democrat and Chronicle recently reported in three poor neighborhoods on the east side of the city:

Good luck finding a job in these parts of the city, where fewer than one in 10 residents is employed in the neighborhood where he or she lives. More than half of residents who do have jobs are forced to commute to the suburbs.

It’s great Xerox call center workers can now access transit. But RTS cannot do this for all jobs in the suburbs.  There has to be critical mass for regular routes. Our government leaders must take into account where jobs are located and who is expected to fill those jobs the next time a CEO comes looking for a handout.

 

Provided photo: New employees at the Xerox call center in Webster met today with Mike Zimmer, President of US Large Operations at Xerox, Heather Smith, Senior Vice President of Delivery Transformation and Global Capabilities at Xerox, Vincent Esposito, Regional Director of the Empire State Development Finger Lakes Regional Office, and Bill Carpenter, CEO of RTS to say thank you for the new commuter express service.

Provided photo: New employees at the Xerox call center in Webster met today with Mike Zimmer, President of US Large Operations at Xerox, Heather Smith, Senior Vice President of Delivery Transformation and Global Capabilities at Xerox, Vincent Esposito, Regional Director of the Empire State Development Finger Lakes Regional Office, and Bill Carpenter, CEO of RTS to say thank you for the new commuter express service.

2 Responses to Locate Jobs Near People

  1. April 25, 2016 at 1:41 pm Alan D Tatelman responds:

    This is very true, I do not drive, it is so hard to find jobs on a bus line, that is what is hurting me most right now.

  2. This is really where we need regional planning. All of these small governement/low tax people seem to have an aversion to the city and urban areas, yet they love to move out into the suburbs and exburbs and demand services at the same level as if they were in the city. Monroe County has had a massive growth in infrastructure, roads, water, sewer, power, etc etc, for a population that has barely grown. Its no wonder our taxes are so high. It also hamstrings public transit like RTS. They are forced to try and cover a sprawled out area to get the people who can’t afford cars to where they need to be, but this hurts service in the built up areas of the county (city and inner ring suburbs) where bus service should be frequent and relatively quick.. Money and buses spent on going to the far reaches of the county could instead be spent on short interval bus routes that could get people around the city and inner ring suburbs quickly and cheaply.

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