Transportation Challenges for Older Rural Americans

Vast distances and inadequate funding pose problems for the rural transportation services that older adults rely on to access essential services.

1 minute read

June 2, 2022, 9:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Woman sitting on bench at rural bus stop

Aigars Reinholds / Rural bus stop

Transportation in rural America is often hard to access for older adults, writes Deon J. Hampton for NBC News. “Millions of older adults living in rural America no longer drive and don’t have adequate access to alternative transportation that can assist them with rides to banks, pharmacies and other important places, said Baruch Feigenbaum, senior managing director for transportation policy at the Reason Foundation.” 

Despite an additional $2 billion in federal funding allocated to rural transit, many elderly Americans in rural areas will still face transportation challenges, writes Hampton. While nonprofit organizations work to fill the gap, many lack adequate funding and can only operate minimal services. 

“One way to make rural transit more accessible for older adults nationwide — including those who are disabled or have low incomes — is to use various forms of federal funding to dole out more grant money for nonprofit organizations like the Rural Transit Service in New York, transportation experts say.” Rural Transit Service has been hailed as a “national model for what an organization can do with the right resources,” writes Hampton.

“Some transit experts reiterated that rural America is just too vast to completely lean on those types of alternative transit systems for the majority of older adults in remote places,” but increased funding can boost programs that already provide low-cost, on-demand services.

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