Public Transportation Provides a Vital Mobility Link in Rural and Small Towns
A new report, "Public Transportation’s Impact on Rural and Small Towns: A Vital Mobility Link" [pdf] by the American Public Transportation Association and the Community Transportation Association of America describes the important roles that public transit plays in small towns and rural communities, examples of rural community public transport programs, and responses to common rural transit myths.
Public transportation helps rural communities become more efficient and equitable. It allows all residents, including non-drivers, enjoy independent mobility and receive a fair share of public spending on transportation facilities and services. Although public transit serves only a minor portion of total rural travel, many of those trips are crucial, including access to healthcare, basic shopping, employment and education.
This report describes current demographic and economic trends that are increasing demands for affordable mobility options in rural communities, including aging population, high poverty rates, and a large portion of military veterans. Serving these demands can provide multiple benefits; it helps rural residents age in place and attracts new residents, businesses and tourists. However, many of these benefits can be overlooked or undervalued in formal transportation planning. As a result, the importance of rural public transit improvements is often under estimated.