The Long Road

In many communities – urban and suburban – the current economic climate has necessitated cutbacks or elimination of services.  In particular, public transportation systems around the country are taking a big hit.  Routes are being altered, and in some cases eliminated.  So for many, getting to work – or anyplace else for that matter – via public transit has become more burdensome.  In areas where express buses or trains have been eliminated or made less frequent, getting to or from work has become a far more lengthy, time consuming and arduous ordeal.
Sadly, the people who make the decisions to reduce these necessary services fail to realize the impact a longer public transit commute has on the work force.  I personally believe people who work in management positions for transportation agencies should be obligated to get to and from work using their own systems at least 4 days a week, but we know that isn’t going to happen any time soon.
The longer commute forces workers to leave home earlier and return home later, and alter the methods they use in an effort to get to work on time.  Not everyone has the luxury of jumping into their own cars and driving themselves – or even carpooling with others – to get to and from their jobs.  And for many who do have this option, the drive is not necessarily shorter or faster!  Of course putting more people back into their cars and onto the roads is no solution as it wreaks further havoc on the environment!
Longer commute times and earlier departures from home do nothing for employee morale and are prime contributors to worker fatigue, which in tern lowers productivity and increases mistakes. The lengthier commutes also negatively impact people’s home and personal lives, reducing the amount of time hard working employees have to spend with their families, friends and loved ones, lessening their time to rest, recharge and recuperate, or exercise and otherwise de-stress.
Complicating matters further, with the national unemployment rate so high, in many locations fewer people are actually using the public transportation systems cutting into their revenues.  Fewer riders = less revenue = less service!
So, how are employers coping with the changes to workers’ commute hassles?

  • Are they being patient with tardiness?
  • Are they adjusting worker schedules to accommodate these new circumstances?
  • Are they instituting new or additional telecommuting options?
  • Are they facilitating ride sharing and carpooling among employees?
  • Are they offering cab script programs?
  • Are they providing a safe environment for those who must wait in the dark for transportation?

And employees and job seekers, what must they do?

  • Demonstrate a best effort in getting to work on time
  • Be open with your employer about the added time you need to get to work.
  • Don’t wait for your employer to provide incentives for carpooling and ride sharing.
  • Research alternative routes and transportation, including finding others who work close to your job, even if not at the same company.
  • Address any safety concerns about where you’ll have to wait for public transportation.
  • Job seekers should do a practice run before going on an interview to ensure they can get to their interview on time.
  • Above all else, be patient!

The changes and adjustments that both employers and employees will need to make are myriad and complicated; and both will have to get use to these changes for the long term!
It behooves employees to be open and honest with their employers about any commuting difficulties.  But it is also in the best interest of employers to demonstrate flexibility, patience and compassion, adjusting schedules to enable workers to safely navigate the changes in the way they get to and from work, without fear of reprisal for tardiness.
And an important note:  Employees who use public transportation because they have no other option due to a legitimate and documented impairment or disability are legally entitled to a formal accommodation. Among other solutions, this could include an altered work schedule or alternative job site location.  This topic is too lengthy and complicated for in depth coverage here. But if such a situation affects you, check out the ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) home page or consult with an ADA specialist for more information.
Get home safe!
Also, at this time, allow me to extend my sincerest wishes to all for a Healthy, Happy and Prosperous New Year!
And to learn other tips and information that can help you in your job search or your career, please visit: