The purpose of the research reported was to identify the current status and needs for general public transportation in Oregon’s rural areas, as well as opportunities and barriers (e.g., funding, governance issues, and leadership) to expanding services over a 20 year period.
Oregon is a largely rural state. This lack of density poses problems for the provision of public transit, whether through fixed route or demand response service. People living in the rural areas and who lack cars and access to public transportation are at a strong disadvantage. With no access to these transit resources, they may be limited to relying on friends, family, or associates for travel. This reliance may severely limit the flexibility of travel and limit those individuals’ independence. When transit is not available, older adults and people with disabilities, in particular, experience more restrictions on their ability to travel and must rely more heavily on informal networks or formal supportive services to meet their needs. Rural public transit also plays a vital role for agricultural workers.
The lack of transit options in rural areas, therefore, leaves many rural citizens at a tremendous economic as well as social disadvantage.