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Lack of public transportation is a barrier to businesses looking to hire

Posted at 6:28 PM, Aug 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-06 18:31:21-04

CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WKBW) — Gordon Companies in Cheektowaga is already thinking about the holiday season. Tina Puntillo, the company's HR coordinator, said that means the wholesaler will need lots of extra hands.

"Come the fourth quarter, which we're ramping up to do right now, we can bring in an additional 150 employees every two weeks," she said.

Puntillo said the problem isn't a lack of interest in the open positions, but rather a lack of bus stops.

"We ask if you know, if they have reliable transportation, as some of them do rely on public transportation," she said. "But unfortunately there has been that gap where they either drop them off on Union and William or they leave them on French and Union."

Puntillo was referring to the nearly 1.5 mile stretch of Union Road where there's no bus stop. The William and French stops are served by routes 1 and 2 respectively. There used to be a stop on the corner of Union Road and Innsbruck Drive. The NFTA did away with in 2012. It said low ridership along that stretch of Union was low; therefore, it redeployed some resources.

The next closest bus stop to it is the one on French. Google Maps estimated it was a 12 minute walk to the old Innsbruck stop, driving that stretch took about one minute. Puntillo said that walk is particularly rough in the company's peak job season.

"Especially in November the bridge on French Road it's icy, it's cold, it's windy," she said.

Route problems are affecting more than just Gordon Companies. Amy Epstein, the general manage of the temp agency SPS, said about 50 percent of the people who come to her on a daily basis looking for a job rely on public transportation.

"In this particular area alone, the conglomerate we're working with right now has probably over 300 positions that need to be filled," Epstein said. "And a lot of them don't take a lot of skill, and they have a decent pay rate, but the problem is we can't get people here."

Google Maps estimates a trip from downtown Buffalo to Costanzo's Bakery (corner of Union and Innsbruck) would take about 50 minutes. Twenty of those minutes is a nearly one-mile walk.

Businesses like Gordon Companies, Costanzo's Bakery, Rosina Foods, and Cheesecake Factory among others will be holding a meeting next Wednesday to discuss alternatives to buses for employees. The HR Manager at Rosina Foods said representatives from the New York State Department of Labor and State Assembly will attend as well.

Click here for more information on jobs with Gordon Companies.