Document Type

Fact Sheet


University of Montana Rural Institute

Publication Date



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


The lack of transportation is one of the most frequently cited problems of rural residents. Federal funds to support public transportation have historically been inequitably allocated between urban and rural areas. This inequity has a particularly significant impact on people with disabilities who live in rural areas. While the 1998 authorization of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) increased the total amount of funds for public support of transportation and increased the funds available for rural transportation and transportation for the elderly and individuals with disabilities, the discrepancy between urban and rural transportation allocations remains significant. About 25% of the nation’s population lives in rural areas but only about 6% of transportation funds are allocated to rural areas. That leaves 94% of transportation funds going to subsidize transportation for the 75% of the population living in urban areas. The following table outlines the projected allocations of TEA-21 through the beginning of the next century. We estimate that an allocation of an additional $523 million for rural transportation would be required to equalize funding between urban and rural areas on the basis of population alone. The magnitude of this discrepancy suggests one of the reasons transportation has been a consistent problem in rural areas.


community participation and independent living, transportation, rural, disability

Granting Agency

National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research


This publication is funded by a grant from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, U.S. Dept. of Education (H133B70017-01).

Project Number