Monday, February 15, 2010

Rural Georgia Needs More Transportation. The More,The Better

Rural transportation as long as I've known it has traditionally meant cars and pickups, highways and Greyhound buses. However, while the buses are fewer and farther between, that doesn’t change people’s needs to get from place to place.

Most people have cars and trucks, but some elderly or disabled people can no longer drive, and with gas prices up, some unemployed and lower-income people can no longer afford to drive much. In rural Georgia, mobility can be challenging and more transportation alternatives are needed.

First, modern, fast, comfortable and convenient higher-speed intercity rail service will help rural transportation access. Most people think about high-speed rail as linking big cities, but carefully chosen stops along the way can provide important new transportation services for rural Georgians. The fast trains shouldn’t have a lot of stops, which would make them into milk runs.

Imagine a flexible transit service in which rural riders could call or e-mail a dispatcher asking to be picked up in a certain timeframe. Although this may be more challenging and less time-certain in spread out rural areas than in more dense urban areas, modern software scheduling technology can make these shuttle services work better.

Let’s deploy new technologies creatively to improve the efficiency of rural transit services in providing access to jobs, government services and health care. This would especially helpful for elderly and disabled rural Georgians who cannot drive.

It’s time for new ideas for better rural transportation. Let’s seize the opportunity to support new transportation solutions that improve mobility for people in rural areas and support more livable communities.

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