Document Type

Technical Report


University of Montana Rural Institute

Publication Date



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


Transportation decisions can enhance or limit community participation and employment opportunities. Historically, the lack of transportation has been consistently reported as one of the most significant barriers to community participation, particularly by rural people with disabilities. A person with a disability affecting his or her mobility in the community may have to base housing and employment choices primarily on transportation connectivity. Lack of transportation may force an individual with a disability to relocate to an area with available transportation services, and/or never consider living in a location with inadequate transportation. The 1970 amendments to the 1964 Urban Mass Transportation Act (Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1970, P.L. 91‐453) established as national policy that: …elderly and handicapped persons have the same right as other persons to utilize mass transportation facilities and services; that special efforts shall be made in the planning and design of mass transportation facilities and services so that the availability to elderly and handicapped persons of mass transportation which they can effectively utilize will be assured; and that all Federal programs offering assistance in the field of mass transportation (including the programs under this Act) should contain provisions implementing this policy. This national policy statement pre‐dated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by twenty years. Since its passage in 1990, the ADA has guided national policy toward integrated accessible public transit and changed the nature of transportation services. The Federal Transit Administration’s Elderly and Persons with Disabilities Program (section 5310) has been in place since 1975 and has been particularly important in filling gaps in accessible transportation services for seniors and people with disabilities. The Research and Training Center on Disability in Rural Communities conducted a transportation policy analysis to [1] learn more about the similarities and differences among states in their approach to, policy content of, emphasis on, and organization of transportation services planned, designed, and carried out to meet the special needs of elderly individuals and individuals with disabilities; [2] identify current practices, approaches, and innovations; and [3] serve as a resource to allow state policymakers, administrators, and advocates to learn from and build on each other’s work. We reviewed state management plans that were in place prior to the August 2005 passage of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act ‐ A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA‐LU, Public Law 109‐59) to establish a consistent baseline among states which can be used to measure the program’s impact and progress in achieving national goals. We framed this analysis within a post‐ADA context, assuming (as stated in the 1970 national policy) that the desired outcome of the §5310 program in this century is an integrated public transportation system accessible to all, including people with disabilities and elderly individuals.


community participation and independent living, transportation, rural, disability

Granting Agency

National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research


Project support came from the U.S. Department of Education, National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research grant H133B030501 to the University of Montana Research and Training Center on Disability in Rural Communities. We wish to thank Chris Zeilinger and Jane Hardin from Community Transportation Association of America; Marilyn Golden, Bryna Helfer, and the information staff at Easter Seals Project Action; Sue Masselink at the Federal Transit Administration for assisting in the collection of state documents; state coordinators who provided additional background information, helpful comments and advice, including Butch Ragsdale (Idaho); Tom Ochal (Illinois); LaVerne Moody (Georgia), and Jean Palmateer (Oregon); Nancy Arnold, Linda Gonzales and Patrick Reinhart for reviewing the final technical report; Steve Sticka, who assisted in initial document collection, and Zach Brandt who prepared the maps.

Project Number