Small town and rural public transit ridership increased 7.8% from 2007 to 2015, according to a new study by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).
The study authors of “Public Transit's Impact on Rural and Small Towns” show that public transit's affordability and the demographic makeup of these areas combine to make public transit desirable for rural and small town populations. Seniors, veterans and people with disabilities have the highest public transit use in these areas.
Authors of the report note that rural and small town residents with disabilities, particularly, rely upon public transportation. These residents take nearly 50% more public transit trips than unimpaired people.
There are 2.9 million veterans residing in rural and small towns, which make up 33% of the veteran population enrolled in the VA healthcare system. Public transit can help this population access needed services, particularly wounded veterans with limited mobility, according to the report.
The authors of the report noted that seniors make up a larger portion of rural and small town populations (17%) compared to urban populations (13%).
Taking public transit can help reduce vehicle expenditures related to fuel and maintenance. In fact, rural and small town households spend nearly 7% more of their budgets on transportation than those in urban households. Overall, costs of operating even an older car can cost $3,000 annually or $20 per trip. A five-mile rural public transit trip costs nearly $7 compared to a $10-15 cab fare.