Document Type

Research Progress Report


University of Montana Rural Institute

Publication Date



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


Consistently, people with disabilities living in rural areas and those who serve them report the lack of transportation as a primary concern (Jackson, Seekins, & Offner, 1992; National Council on Disability, 2005). Section 5310 of the Federal Transit Act (49 USC 5310) authorizes a program of capital assistance to help local organizations acquire vehicles to transport elderly individuals and people with disabilities when other public transportation is unavailable or insufficient. To effectively maximize the availability and use of transportation resources, rural disability advocates and transportation planners need data on rural and urban distribution and use of Section 5310 funds (e.g., Gonzales, Seekins, & Kasnitz, 2001). The goal of this RTC: Rural study was to assess and compare the local distribution and use of Section 5310 funds in urban and rural areas. Section 5310 transportation funds are allocated to states, which in turn distribute them to eligible local applicants. Local nonprofit organizations often use these funds to transport their clients to and from their service programs. While this agency-based model transports some people in both urban and rural areas, it does not directly address the general transportation needs of a community’s elderly individuals and persons with disabilities. Critics suggest that agency-based vehicles may be underused, and that agencies may exclude non-clients from riding in the vehicles, even if their destinations coincide with an agency’s route (e.g., Applied Resource Integration, Ltd., 1980; Sundeen, Reed, & Savage, 2005). These critics advocate developing cooperative transportation models. Since 1987, Federal Transit Administration (FTA) programs have encouraged coordination of Section 5310-funded activities; and Executive Order 13330 (2004) required government-wide coordination. However, implementation of collaborative arrangements has not been a central feature of state Section 5310 networks, and federal regulation has not yet required that Section 5310 recipients cooperate (Burkhardt et al., 2004; Government Accountability Office, 2003). There is a particular need to determine whether resources are allocated equitably between urban and rural areas, and whether local coordinated systems are actually being implemented. Further, a baseline of such information is necessary in order to evaluate the effects of future Transit Act regulations and provisions. This RTC: Rural study provides such a baseline.


community participation and independent living, transportation, rural, disability


© RTC: Rural, 2006.

Granting Agency

National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research


This research is supported by grant #H133B030501 from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, U.S. Department of Education.

Project Number