Rural areas in every state experience myriad challenges related directly or indirectly to transportation. These challenges vary among and within states and in the ways transportation can be part of a solution. Air service from rural airports; access to health care; availability of emergency medical services during the Golden Hour after a crash; mobility of the elderly and people with disabilities; the movement of agricultural products to markets; human trafficking; access to high-speed electronic communications; natural disasters; passenger rail services; agency workforce recruitment and retention; and the relationship of transportation to economic development are just a few listed on public agendas.
The Transportation Research Board Executive Committee’s Subcommittee on Planning and Policy Review (SPPR) noted at its April 2018 meeting:
Rural regional services are transportation services that fall in the middle ground between intercity bus service and rural public transportation. The concept was the topic of a NCHRP report [NCHRP Research Report 861: Best Practices in Rural Regional Mobility] that addressed the role of state transit program policies and regional planning agencies in the development of rural regional services. According to the report, these services improve mobility, employment, and education opportunities; provide access to healthcare and community services; and offer connectivity to the national transportation network.
NCHRP has used research roadmaps to develop research needs statements for a variety of topics, and several new roadmaps are in development.