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Rural transportation systems

Health Factors: Employment Housing & Transit
Decision Makers: Community Development Professionals Community Members Employers & Businesses Local Government
Evidence Rating: Expert Opinion
Population Reach: 20-49% of WI's population
Impact on Disparities: Likely to decrease disparities

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Description

Rural transportation systems provide transportation services outside of urban areas. Services may include shared transportation options such as publicly-funded buses and vans running on fixed routes and schedules, more flexible pick-up and drop off with smaller vehicles (such as dial-a-ride transit), or volunteer ridesharing. Rural transportation systems provide services over large areas with low population densities that often lack established public transportation systems.

Expected Beneficial Outcomes

Increased access to employment
Increased mobility
Increased access to health care

Evidence of Effectiveness

Rural transportation systems are a suggested strategy to increase access to employment for rural populations (NRTAP). Available evidence suggests rural transportation systems can increase access to jobs (Thakuriah 2011b) and opportunities for higher wages for individuals living in rural areas (Thakuriah 2013). Such systems can also increase the mobility of other vulnerable populations, such as the elderly and people with disabilities (Peng 1998).

Rural transportation networks often face high per capita costs, and are frequently personalized based on the needs of users (Stommes 2005). Although such demand-response programs are costly, they provide substantial benefits for individuals who would otherwise be unable to travel to work (Thakuriah 2013, Thakuriah 2011a, Stommes 2005), or access health care or other essential services (Peng 1998). Rural transportation systems may also benefit local economies (Peng 1998). Efforts to track and evaluate the operating costs of rural demand-response programs can help improve performance and reduce program costs (TRB-Ellis 2009).

Implementation

United States

The US Department of Transportation supports capital and operating assistance for rural transit through Section 5311 grants. Low income populations are considered as a factor in the grant formula (US DOT-Section 5311). 

Implementation Resources

APTA-Resources - American Public Transportation Association (APTA). Resource library. Accessed on June 1, 2017
ESPA-Rural transportation - Easter Seals Project Action (ESPA). Accessible community transportation in our nation: Rural transportation resources. Accessed on February 1, 2016
NRTAP - National Rural Transit Assistance Program (RTAP). Accessed on November 9, 2015
TRB-Ellis 2009 - Ellis E, McCollom B. TCRP Report 136. Guidebook for rural demand-response transportation: Measuring, assessing, and improving performance. Washington,DC: Transportation Research Board (TRB); 2009. Accessed on January 28, 2016

Citations - Evidence

NRTAP - National Rural Transit Assistance Program (RTAP). Accessed on November 9, 2015
Peng 1998* - Peng ZR, Nelson AC. Rural transit services: A local economic and fiscal impact analysis. Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board. 1998;(1623):57–62. Accessed on November 20, 2015
Stommes 2005 - Stommes ES, Brown DM. Moving rural residents to work. Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board. 2005;(1903):45–53. Accessed on November 18, 2015
Thakuriah 2011a* - Thakuriah (Vonu) P. Analysis of cost-effectiveness of employment transportation services. Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board. 2011;(2217):55–62. Accessed on November 10, 2015
Thakuriah 2011b* - Thakuriah (Vonu) P. Variations in employment transportation outcomes: Role of site-level factors. Papers Regional Science. 2011;90(4):755–72. Accessed on November 18, 2015
Thakuriah 2013* - Thakuriah (Vonu) P, Persky J, Soot S, Sriraj PS. Costs and benefits of employment transportation for low-wage workers: An assessment of job access public transportation services. Evaluation and Program Planning. 2013;37:31–42. Accessed on November 9, 2015
TRB-Ellis 2009 - Ellis E, McCollom B. TCRP Report 136. Guidebook for rural demand-response transportation: Measuring, assessing, and improving performance. Washington,DC: Transportation Research Board (TRB); 2009. Accessed on January 28, 2016

Citations - Implementation

US DOT-Section 5311 - US Department of Transportation (US DOT). Fact sheet: Formula grants for rural areas, section 5311. 2012. Accessed on March 16, 2017

Page Last Updated

September 3, 2014

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