This research report, commissioned by the Appalachian Regional Commission, documents the extent to which existing transit services are adequately creating or enhancing access for disadvantaged populations in Appalachia, particularly those in rural Appalachia. The report also documents current best transportation practices across the Region and explores how transportation intersects with issues of economic development, human capacity, and health. For this report, the state of rural transit in Appalachia was documented through extensive analysis of the policies, programs, and organizations of state-level rural transit programs, findings from a survey of 118 transit providers from every state in the Appalachian Region, and insight from 14 in-depth transit provider interviews. The current use of federal funding, with particular focus on the use of the Appalachian Development Public Transportation Assistance Program (ADTAP), was also a key part of this review.
This report also includes information on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic to the public transportation industry. This study provides an overview of the impact of the ongoing pandemic on rural public transportation to date, the response of transit agencies in the Region, and potential long-term implications.