The New York Times recently profiled the story — or the commute, rather — of Sheila James, a 61-year-old federal office worker who lives in Stockton, California, but works 80 miles away in San Francisco. She rises at 2 a.m. so she can catch a bus and two trains to get to her job as a public health advisor. Her total commuting time? Three hours — each way.
This intense commute isn’t by choice. Sheila is part of a growing community of working-class men and women known as “extreme commuters” who, because of skyrocketing real estate prices and a lack of affordable housing, are forced to travel more than 90 minutes one way each day to get to their jobs. For Sheila, and millions of Americans like her, a combination of public transit and commuter options aren’t just alternatives to the office carpool — they are lifelines to economic stability.
But strains placed on state and local budgets mean these vital services are under threat. During the Great Recession, agencies were forced to severely cut back by slashing routes and jobs while raising fares, and many of those cuts have yet to be restored. Reductions in service, maintenance, and system expansions don’t just affect extreme commuters like Sheila — they have profound impacts on communities all across the country.
Read more on the Huffington Post.