According to AARP Public Policy Institute research, more than 100 million Americans do not drive. Yet our transportation systems are still built primarily around individual car ownership. Ride-hailing services, like Lyft, along with public transportation systems are beginning to work together to reimagine how our future transportation infrastructure can improve quality of life for people of every age and background.
While innovations in transportation tend to be viewed as a trend unique to urban communities and settings, new technologies are now enabling service providers to capitalize on a previously untapped market: rural communities. With a unique set of challenges and opportunities—and enabled by today’s technology—these rural markets allow transportation service providers to rethink the kinds of services they provide, how to scale those services, and how to make them more accessible. That movement toward innovation in rural markets needs to grow.
Whether traveling to work, a restaurant or coffee shop or even the hospital, consumers have more transportation options than ever before. And as both new and re-formulated technologies fuel the continued expansion of the local transportation market with new services and companies – both public and private – it’s easy to think that now is the best time to be a local commuter.
On the whole, public transit still offers a more consistent, and often cheaper experience for all customers who need to get to work, school, or to a doctor
Well-designed, transit-rich neighborhoods provide many benefits to residents of all ages, as I document in, “ Independence Found in Downsizing to a Transit Rich Neighborhood.” These neighborhoods also provide dividends to the larger community, generating higher property values, rents, and revenue than real estate located further away from high quality public transportation services. Cities as diverse as Seattle, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Denver, Detroit, and Washington, DC have all strengthened their regional economies through investment in transit-oriented development (TOD). And because their residents walk and bike more, TOD residents reap some health benefits as well.
Most of us take our mobility for granted. We grab our keys and head out to work, buy groceries, and shuttle our kids to movies and soccer practice—all without a second thought. But for the one-third of Americans who don’t drive and many others who lack access to a working vehicle, transportation options don’t come easy—especially in rural America, where transportation has long been a seemingly intractable problem.
In 2009, a truck struck and killed Beverly Shelton’s grandson, Zachary, who was walking inside a marked crosswalk and accompanied by an adult. The driver had rolled through the stop sign rather than make a complete stop.
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