The products of this study are a methodology for estimating the benefits of rural transit systems, an aggregate estimate of the nation-wide benefit, case studies demonstrating the analytical techniques for estimating benefits, and guidance for maximizing benefits. The case studies show benefit-cost ratios ranging from 4.2 to 1 to 1.7 to 1, with an average of 3.1 to 1. The aggregate analysis yielded a similar benefit-cost estimate of 3.4 to 1. Rural transit systems that provide significant employment travel, contribute to independent living, and provide access to critical medical services scored highly in the analysis.
This study was conducted because public transportation is an important element of rural infrastructure, but the economic role it plays has not been quantified and is seldom recognized by people outside of the rural transportation community. The social benefits of rural public transportation have long been recognized. Public transit provides access to essential services such as health care, shopping, and community services. However, rural public transportation also provides links between businesses and a widely dispersed rural labor force; retail centers and customers; and health services and patients. In terms of economic theory, transportation supports economies of scale in production, which in turn permits efficiencies for transportation providers such as better use of personnel and equipment.
The objectives of this research were to (1) document the linkages between public transportation and economic activities in rural areas; (2) develop recommendations for improved linkages; (3) estimate the national economic impacts of rural public transportation; (4) develop practical methodologies for estimating the economic impacts of rural public transportation at national, regional, and local levels; and (5) develop a primer on the economic impacts of rural public transportation for use by economic development agencies, employers, planners, rural public transit agencies, and policy makers
The study findings are available in TCRP Report 34
, "Assessment of the Economic Impacts of Rural Public Transportation." TCRP Report 34
is available in portable document format (PDF). Double-click on the file(s) below to access the report. (A free copy of the Adobe Acrobat Reader is available at http://www.adobe.com
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