yellow car parked on street without other transportation options

Tips to Increase Transportation Access for People At-Risk

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Research Summary


Getting a job often hinges on a person’s ability to get themselves to and from work. Cars are costly to buy and maintain, and rural job seekers have few other transportation options. Researchers examined three studies on issues related to transportation for rural job seekers:

    • The role of transportation in daily living.
    • Transportation barriers faced by rural welfare recipients trying to find a job.
    • The connection between transportation availability and economic outcomes.

They concluded that consistent access to reliable transportation helps at-risk people achieve full employment.

Key Findings

  • Having reliable transportation increases the odds that a person living in a rural area will have a job.
  • Lack of transportation impacts other aspects of life, including grocery shopping, kids’ school activities, and accessing health care.
  • Relying on friends and neighbors for rides limits where rural residents can go and when.
  • Mass transit in rural areas often serves customers or clients of an organization. Other options for transportation are poorly coordinated and communicated.
  • Personal car ownership is seen as the most flexible and desirable option and is shown by research to provide better outcomes for job seekers.

    Put It Into Practice


    Tips and tools to help you apply best practices at work.

    • Support consumers by helping them identify available transportation services.
    • Find out if your state offers zero-interest loans for reconditioned cars, or has a vehicle donation program.
    • Help consumers anticipate the costs and requirements of owning a vehicle.

    More About This Research

    Although transportation has been identified as a key component of successful employment, there are still opportunities to research the long-term effects of transportation policies and programs on positive outcomes for rural families.

    Learn More

    Fletcher, Cynthia Needles, Steven B. Garasky, Helen H. Jensen, and Robert B. Nielsen. "Transportation Access: A Key Employment Barrier for Rural Low-Income Families." Journal of Poverty 14, no. 2 (2010): 123-44. doi:10.1080/10875541003711581.