Accessing Public Transportation in Northeastern Mississippi: A Guide for Rural Areas

Public transportation is an essential resource for Mississippians with limited mobility options. It provides dependable transportation solutions that enable travel from rural to urban areas, allowing citizens to stay connected to the people and places that matter most. Providers offer accessible transportation for disabled and wheelchair users, ensuring everyone can access their community. In order to achieve the necessary changes, more investment is needed in rural transportation.

The United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) has the opportunity to rethink the provision of transportation services in rural areas of the United States. A long-term investment is required to help low-income families in small urban centers pay for access to broadband, and the infrastructure bill is a step in the right direction. While 97 percent of urban Americans have access to fixed high-speed service, only 65 percent of rural areas have access, and just 60 percent have access on tribal land. Unfortunately, many rural communities are opposing current federal transportation policy, making it difficult to invest in safe infrastructure and providing insufficient funding for rural transportation operations.

The USDOT should prioritize investment in rural urban centers and efficiently connect people in rural areas to jobs and services, whether by car, public transportation, bicycles, or walking. Several rural communities are reinvesting in their historic centers to improve economic vitality and provide better access to jobs and services. The Natchez Transit System provides community transportation services to most cities, towns, and communities in southwestern Mississippi. Students can use public transportation not only to get around campus but also to connect to destinations in the surrounding community.

Limited access to transportation is compounded by poor Internet access in many rural communities, especially in scattered rural areas. Providing infrastructure is cost-inefficient and private Internet providers have little incentive to do so. To ensure that everyone has access to reliable public transportation, the USDOT should prioritize investment in rural urban centers and create efficient connections between people in rural areas and jobs and services. This will help low-income families gain access to broadband and improve economic vitality in small urban centers.

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