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Public Transportation’s Impact on Rural and Small Towns - Report Released by APTA

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While America's rural population declined by more than half a million people, small town and rural public transit ridership has increased nearly eight percent (7.8 percent) from 2007 to 2015, according to a new study by the American Public Transportation Association.

The paper, which is available on the APTA website (and linked here), notes that rural and small town residents with disabilities particularly rely upon public transportation. These residents take nearly 50 percent more public transit trips than unimpaired people. There are 2.9 million veterans residing in rural and small towns, which make up 33 percent of the veteran population enrolled in the VA health care system. Public transit can help this population access needed services, particularly wounded veterans with limited mobility, according to the report (adapted from Mass Transit Mag article: link here).

A summary of the paper is listed below. Read the full paper here.

  • The number of rural and small town public transit agencies has increased over the past two decades to approximately 1,400 agencies (2014).
  • America’s rural population is declining, but ridership has increased from 2007 to 2015. This equates to an 8.6 percent increase in per-capita rural ridership over the past 8 years, and a 7.8 percent increase in total rural ridership. For comparison, urban public transit ridership increased by 2.3 percent in the same time period.
  • Rural demographics make public transit increasingly desired. Older Americans make up a larger portion of rural populations (17 percent) than in urban populations (13 percent).
  • Rural residents with disabilities rely on public transit- they take about 50 percent more public transit trips than unimpaired people do.
  • There are 2.9 million rural veterans, making up 33 percent of the veteran population enrolled in the VA health care system. Rural public transit can help them access needed services.
  • Public transit can reduce the risk of road accidents. Rural residents travel about 33 percent more than urban residents, and although rural areas only make up 19 percent of the population, they account for around 49 percent of traffic fatalities.
  • Rural poverty rates exceed urban poverty rates in all regions. Rural public transit can help reduce personal travel expenditures due to gas and other vehicle maintenance expenditures (rural households spend about 7 percentage points more of their budgets on transportation than urban households do).
  • Public transit can help promote active lifestyles in rural communities struggling with health problems such as obesity, and can link people with healthcare services.
  • Rural public transportation can be an important force in supporting local economies by connecting residents (especially non-drivers) with local businesses and job opportunities.
  • Rural public transit spending per capita is lower than in urban areas. Increased local and federal investment can help address this.
| Categories: | Tags: TAM, APTA, Rural Transit, Transit Maryland, Public Transit, Small Transit, Aging in Place, Seniors | View Count: (12648) | Return

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