The Availability of Passenger Transportation
Passenger transportation in nonmetro America is currently in a state of flux. Energy shortages coupled with soaring inflation are hampering the mobility of residents in nonmetro areas. A number of communities have experienced recent cutbacks or abandonment of scheduled air, passenger rail, and intercity bus service. On the other hand, there are positive trends including the enactment of a new passenger transportation program at the federal level to encourage the development and expansion of innovative paratransit systems, and the launching of a set of interagency agreements by the White House to help improve a variety of transportation programs for small cities and towns.
From a longer-term perspective, improvements in transportation facilities and services during this century have assisted in removing the barriers of nonmetro isolation. The private automobile has afforded an unprecedented degree of mobility. Yet, despite these gains, the problems of isolation persist among the poor, elderly, handicapped, and youth in nonmetro areas. The current energy situation has extended these problems to the general nonmetro populace with major impacts on those living and working in recreation communities, residents of bedroom communities within commuting distance of metro employment locations, and low-income residents of communities with little or no economic opportunity.
The future of settlement patterns in nonmetro areas is likely to be significantly influenced by the future of the transportation system found in these areas. The development of new technologies in the automobile transportation system coupled with the expansion of alternative transportation modes could help to offset the adverse impact of the energy crisis. Similarly, new patterns of land use, as well as the application of innovative telecommunications technology, could help counterbalance some of the current trends. Un-