To get about, people in rural communities generally employ six different type of transportations. Some modes of transportation could be more widely accessible than others in a given community. These consist of:
- buses, including intercity and intracommunity buses
- Amtrak or commuter rail lines are examples of passenger train service.
- Commercial, private, or semi-private passenger air service
- Golf carts, all-terrain vehicles, and vans used for hire by taxis or ride-sharing services are examples of personal vehicles (ATVs)
- Transportation for pedestrians, such as biking and walking
- boats that one may individually own or that one may use for a ferry service
This is the first type of transportations. Buses are frequently the main mode of transit for public transportation in rural areas, with fixed-route service that runs on a regular schedule. Local or municipal bus systems use already-existing roadways and less-expensive bus stops, unlike rail systems that may need significant infrastructure improvements. This gives designers and planners more freedom when creating, planning, and altering service routes.
Historically, a major mode of transportation in rural areas has been the intercity bus system, which frequently runs larger charter or coach buses. Intercity buses can take passengers to larger regional transit hubs like airports and serve as vital connections between rural areas. Instead of smaller rural areas, transportation systems are increasingly emphasizing the expansion of routes between major urban centers. As a result of decreasing ridership and declining profitability, several transportation providers that previously served smaller communities are also cutting back on services.
Passenger Train Service
This is the second type of transportations. Passenger trains, like intercity buses, offer essential transit connections between remote settlements. The main supplier of this service in the contiguous United States is the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, also known as Amtrak. The Alaska Railroad, which offers intercity passenger and freight service, is also owned by the state of Alaska. Trains can offer rural individuals who need to go to cities for medical treatment, business, employment, or other services economical, accessible transportation, even if most passengers on passenger trains reside in urban areas like the Northeast Corridor.
Passenger Air Service
This is the third type of transportations. People who live in distant locations or regions with scant access to ground transportation, such as some sections of Alaska, may depend on airplanes to conduct business, distribute commodities, carry mail, get medical care, and visit friends and relatives. In order to encourage commercial flights from tiny areas that would otherwise have little to no commercial passenger air service, the federal government offers a subsidy through the Essential Air Service program. Currently, the program assists 115 communities in the contiguous United States and 60 rural communities in Alaska.
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In rural areas, cars predominate over all other forms of transportation. According to research, just 60% of rural counties have access to public transit, and of those, 28% only provide limited service. As a result, personal vehicles (cars, trucks, and vans) are considerably more necessary for the daily transportation demands of rural dwellers. Over 90% of passenger trips in rural areas take place in autos, while more than 80% of rural workers commute alone in a private vehicle, according to the Rural Transit Fact Book. Only 4% of rural households say they have no access to any automobiles.
Compared to their urban counterparts, rural inhabitants are also more likely to continue driving after the age of 75. However, car-dependent communities can be challenging to navigate for senior citizens and other people who are unable to drive in rural locations. Due to the high costs of serving a widely dispersed population, ride-sharing services and commercial taxis may only provide a limited range of services in or to rural regions. Longer wait periods between passengers and greater distances between pick-up locations can add to the costs for drivers, which may then be passed on to consumers.
Rural dwellers typically use sidewalks and bike lanes to safely escape automotive traffic in addition to employing golf carts or ATVs for short trips around their villages. Due to their affordability and slower operating speeds than cars, these solutions can be especially helpful for younger and older residents.
Walking and biking are becoming more and more well-liked ways of exercise and transportation. Due to lengthy travel times or worries about safety, many residents of rural locations would not be able to walk to work or school. To make it simpler and safer for people to walk or bicycle about their town, to other transportation hubs like bus terminals, and for recreational purposes, several rural communities are examining methods to improve pedestrian infrastructure. Additionally, bike share schemes in remote areas can increase the affordability and accessibility of biking.
Boats may play a significant role in connecting population centers and services, especially in Alaskan settlements with poor road connectivity. Ferries may connect island or river villages in other locations. Ferry services, both public and commercial, are typically built to transport both people and their cars. For rural towns, the use of waterways for commerce, fishing, and other agricultural purposes can also be a substantial source of economic activity.
Resources to Learn More
The League of American Bicyclists
Resources and websites that offer instructions and illustrations on how to develop a community that is bicycle-friendly. Examples of national programs that have helped made it easier for people to use bicycles as a form of transportation are provided.
Documentation for a Toolkit for Predicting Demand for Rural Intercity Bus Services
designed for local bus service providers and state transportation offices who are interested in knowing more about the demand for intercity bus services in their areas. helps the reader compare alternative paths and think about how to allocate their resources. The accompanying CD-toolkits ROM’s and files are available for free download or hard copy purchase.
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