The recession is putting the squeeze on rural public transportation.
Job losses are increasing the number of rural people in Georgia who want to use public transportation, according to the Associated Press. But the economy is also making it harder for local governments to pay for transportation systems.
The main source of funding for rural “dial-a-ride” programs is the Federal Transit Administration. This funding has increased in the last three years. But local governments in Georgia are having a hard time coming up with the remaining funds to keep their systems running.
“The recession is making riders out of laid off workers who never depended on public transportation before, but now need it for everything from a doctor’s visit to a job interview,” reports the AP.
” ‘They may have a car, but they just don’t have the gas money,,’ said [Southwest Georgia Regional Commission director Dan] Bollinger, who’s seen ridership go up roughly 15 percent since the recession started.”
Meanwhile, a group working on reauthorization of the federal transportation bill says Georgia’s rural transit problem is part of a national trend of increased public transit ridership in the face of shrinking budgets.