Lack of transit literally hurts many Americans. The 40 percent of American military veterans who live in rural areas report much lower health quality of life scores than urban veterans. The Veterans Administration attributes this in part to poor transit to medical facilities. Lack of transit to after-school sports means that rural kids are 25 percent more likely to be obese. Studies have shown that when seniors can no longer drive their cars, they cease participating in society: Visits to friends and family fall by 65 percent; shopping and eating trips fall by 59 percent.
Here are some innovative ways to extend transit for rural Americans that I wrote about for the New York Times. First, there’s a small rural bus service in Brunswick Maine that has increased passengers by fifty percent in the past year by taking people exactly where they want to go. Then there’s ITNAmerica.org, which completely re-imagines transit as a sort of hybrid between rideshare and taxi to provide thousands of rides a month across the US. After the first article came out, readers wrote in and I did more research from their comments to write this followup article.