NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Women in New York City are more likely to turn down a job due to issues with the transport network than women in other major cities, a poll showed on Thursday, with subway delays and breakdowns seen as putting their work at risk.
More than half of 1,000 women surveyed by the Thomson Reuters Foundation in five of the world’s biggest commuter cities said the time and cost of their transport has influenced their decision to take or stay in a job.
But more women in New York than in other cities said time and cost had played a role in a decision over a job.
Cairo ranked second, followed by Tokyo, while fewer than half the women surveyed in Mexico and London said they had made job choices on the basis of their transportation.
“I have passed up jobs that are an hour or more of travel on the subway,” said Melissa Perez, 35, a mental health therapist in New York City.
“Living in the city all my life, I know that hour can easily turn into two hours in the winter or during a gridlock alert event ... I’ve stayed at jobs just to save time and money on my commute.”
The survey conducted between Aug 13-24 asked 1,000 women about safety, time spent traveling and cost of transport in the five of the world’s largest commuter cities with underground train networks in five different cultural regions.
The poll of 200 women in each of the five cities, supported by Uber, comes as urban authorities look to safe, efficient transportation as critical for access to work, education and healthcare, helping overcome poverty and boost the economic empowerment of women.
In New York City, however, the sprawling mass transit system is suffering from age, lack of maintenance and repair and dire need of modernization, experts said, with its average weekday subway ridership of 5.6 million facing overcrowding and delays.
Data estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau show about 8 percent more women than men ride the city’s public transit and users of public transit also tend to be lower wage workers.
A report by the New York Federal Reserve this summer said subway delays disproportionately affect lower-income workers who tend to live further from their jobs, putting them at risk of losing pay or even their employment.
“As a working woman in New York City, our public transportation is my lifeline,” Darlene Jackson, who works for local city government, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“It keeps a roof over my head, electricity running, food on the table. If I can’t get to work by our subway system, I can’t take care of my family,” said Jackson, a member of Riders Alliance, a grassroots group advocating for improved public transportation in New York.
The governor of New York last year declared the city’s subway system to be in a state of emergency and, since then, hundreds of millions of dollars have been earmarked for repairs and a long-term plan to upgrade signals, cars and tracks.
“Having a working mass transit system and one that is reliable and high quality is absolutely essential to our regional economy,” said Dani Simons, a spokeswoman for the Regional Plan Association, a research and advocacy group that focuses on the area’s economy and environment.
“Our region has outgrown what is an aging transportation system that’s unreliable and unable to respond to changing needs, both in travel patterns and in people’s expectations,” Simons told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Sarah Roberts, who works for a fund-raising organization in Manhattan, said in previous jobs she had to get a note from transit authorities if a subway delay made her five minutes or more late.
“The problems are the delays, the dirtiness, the crowded subways. I don’t understand why other systems in other countries have these beautiful subway systems,” she said.
“We’re a tourist capital right here, and we can’t even show decent subways to people from all over the world.”
Reporting by Ellen Wulfhorst; Editing by Belinda Goldsmith. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's and LGBT+ rights, trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit news.trust.org