Saturday, October 16, 2010

Reliable Transportation = Discrimination?

I have two part time jobs currently, but I still keep my eye out for work. Lately I've been encountering more job descriptions that sound good until I get to the Minimum Requirements section: "must have access to reliable transportation"; "must have access to a reliable vehicle"; or the blunt "must have a car."

I ride the Metro and have ever since I moved to Seattle in 2001. Is it reliable? Well, most of the time it actually is. There are delays, breakdowns, inclement weather, belligerent riders and all the other myriad reasons why it might not get you where you hoped to be when you planned to be there. But any form of transportation will include some degree of uncertainty.

Part of my beef is semantic: If these ads said "must have FAST transportation" instead of "reliable," I would not only be more understanding, I might even be amused. I often have to budget an hour for a bus trip across town - a distance that a car will usually be able to traverse in, oh, 15 to 30 minutes.

But my biggest problem is money-related. Like I said in an earlier post, a lot of people, including me, ride Metro because it's less expensive than driving. Through one of my jobs, I pay just $55 every three months for an Orca card. Collectively, these reliable transportation caveats feel like an additional societal kick in the shin during a recession that's already hurting already vulnerable people. Don't have a job? Can't afford a car? Well too bad!

Do some jobs require cars? Yes. For example, for some of the nanny and babysitting jobs posted in The Daily, the University of Washington's paper, this "must have a car" language makes sense - families who want multiple children to be picked up after school and driven multiple places in the span of two hours, for instance.

But a message to the other families: your kids can ride the bus too.