Document Type

Fact Sheet


University of Montana Rural Institute

Publication Date



Demography, Population, and Ecology | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Sociology


Rural advocates frequently cite the lack of public transportation as one of the most significant problems faced by rural Americans with disabilities (Gonzales, Stombaugh, Seekins & Kasnitz, 2006). Transportation is often critical both to accessing health care, and to becoming and staying employed (Johnson & Shaw, 2001). Section 5317, the New Freedom Initiative for Transportation, a program created by the 2005 federal transportation act (SAFETEA-LU, P.L. 109-59), is designed to “go beyond the ADA” and find new ways to provide transportation for people with disabilities. In each state, local providers compete for funding from the program. Funding may not be used to supplant existing services; twenty percent must go to rural (non-urbanized) areas. Understanding how this program has been used so far may help explain how to use it in the future. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) recently commissioned a study of the uses of the §5317 program (Bergman, Berendes, Gerty & Miller, 2009). This fact sheet summarizes some of the more relevant findings for rural disability advocates, highlighting the role that trip vouchers have played so far.


community participation and independent living, transportation, new freedom initiative, rural, disability


© 2010 RTC:Rural.

Granting Agency

National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research


Our research is supported by grant #H133B080023 from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, U.S, Department of Education.

Project Number