Why Transit Services are Vital in Rural Communities
(Columbia, Missouri, November 15, 2021) – There are many benefits to living in rural communities, including having more space, fresher food, cheaper prices, tighter communities, and enjoying a more peaceful, quiet lifestyle. However, life can also be more difficult when there’s a lack of transportation options in rural areas. Not being able to get to the places you need to go can be very problematic, especially when you are unable to drive or don’t have your own means of transportation.
This article will explore why transit services are vital in rural communities, including the issues that arise without them and the potential solutions that are available.
Issues Caused by a Lack of Transportation in Rural Areas
There are several main reasons why transportation options in rural communities are so important. When these transportation options aren’t available in certain areas, it can negatively affect people’s ability to access the things they need and even impact their overall quality of life.
At OATS Transit, our mission is to enhance the quality of life for individuals throughout Missouri by providing safe, caring, and reliable transportation services. We safely transport passengers to their destinations, treat them with respect and compassion, as well as achieve and maintain maximum standards of performance.
With over 50 years of service, we are the largest rural transportation provider in the nation and often offer guidance to other rural transit providers across the country. So, what are some of the issues caused by a lack of transportation in rural areas?
Less Access to Healthcare Services
One of the main issues that emerges when there is no viable rural transportation is a lack of access to healthcare services for rural communities. This is especially troublesome since the rural populations needing transport services the most include the elderly, those with disabilities, low-income individuals, people with special healthcare needs, and veterans. Because of this, access to reliable transportation has a direct impact on the usage of healthcare services.
According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, there are 4.7 million veterans who live in rural communities, 2.7 million of which are enrolled in the VA health care system. Many of these veterans rely on rural transit services in order to access the healthcare services they need.
Similarly, individuals with disabilities living in rural areas take around 50% more trips on public transit than those without disabilities. However, how do those disabled individuals get around when there is no accessible public transit in their rural community? Specialized transit providers like OATS Transit make it possible for individuals living in rural communities to reach essential healthcare services and get the care they need.
Limited Employment and Educational Opportunities
Another major issue when there are no reliable transportation options in rural communities is that there are limited employment and educational opportunities for rural citizens. This has a direct effect on the economic competitiveness of a community and its overall livability.
This also impacts local businesses and economies because they may not have enough people with reliable transportation to work, there may not be enough workers with the necessary experience or education, or patrons are not easily able to get to their business, so they lack financial support within the community.
OATS Transit helps provide reliable transportation for rural communities so individuals can get to where they need to go, whether that means work, school, or into town to support local businesses.
Missing Out on Community Activities
Missing out on community activities is another issue that arises from having limited or no access to rural transit services. Whether it’s going to the local community center, heading to an event downtown, or even simply going to church, taking part in community activities is difficult when you don’t have access to rural transportation services. Missing out on important events in the community can lead to feelings of isolation and affect a person’s overall well-being, negatively impacting their mental and physical health.
At OATS Transit, we ensure that our riders get exactly where they need to, on time and safely—whether it’s an event at the community center, town hall, or anywhere else.
Difficulty Accessing Social Services
A lack of transportation in rural areas can also result in issues with accessing social services. Critical social services include anything that improves the overall well-being of individuals within a community and cover assistance with food, disabilities, unemployment, housing, education, mental health, and more. Many individuals rely on these services in their daily lives and cannot get by without them. Reliable transportation—like the services provided by OATS Transit—is critical for them to access the social services they need and, when they don’t have that transportation, many problems can arise.
What Type of Rural Transit Services Can Help Avoid These Issues?
Depending on the community you live in, there may already be rural transit services available in the particular area. However, these services often include public transportation which can be inefficient, lack the necessary funding, and can’t accommodate riders with certain disabilities or medical equipment.
One of the solutions is nonprofit rural transit like OATS Transit. We’re a leading specialized transportation agency serving 87 counties in Missouri with our fleet of more than 700 mini-buses and minivans. We serve thousands of Missourians, including senior citizens, people with disabilities, rural citizens, and more, regardless of their sex, age, sexual orientation, national origin, color, or religion.
If you or someone you know needs help with transportation services, contact us today and we’ll help you get where you need to go safely and reliably! If you’d like to learn more about what we do, find out how to ride, make a donation to support our work, or apply for one of our available driving positions!
“Enhancing quality of life by providing safe, caring & reliable transportation services.”
written by Dom Lincoln