The Rural Dependency

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This blog is onto another topic that gets very little attention in the media and that’s the rural dependency upon cars as their method of transportation. In rural communities where there is little public transportation and long distances to travel in order to shop, work, visit friends, etc. the population needs to depend upon cars as the main method of transportation. This is significant for 2 reasons, one that the medium income is lower in rural areas and two that there are greater distances that need to be traveled in order to live.

I’ve found statistics that highlight that rural medium income is 78% of what urban incomes are, where rural medium income is around $41,000 their urban counterparts earn $55,000. This is an issue since approximately 18% of vehicle owning household income is spent on vehicles. 204 In the Northeast rural households spend approximately $1,444 more on their vehicles than urban vehicle owners do, equating to 3.5% of their total income on top of the 18%.206

Another study I’ve found observes the difference of rural and urban transportation times and distances in order to gain dental and medical care. It isn’t surprising to find that the rural populations had to travel proportionally greater distances for longer times than their urban counterparts. Rural residents had to travel 17.5 miles vs. 8.3 for urban travel. Similar to the time spent traveling rural trips took 27.2 minutes compared with 20.7 minutes for urban travel times. Of all travel 85.6% was done by personal car.

These are significant to rural populations because economic stability is more fragile there than it is in urban areas, so things outside of rural control such as high gas prices, a credit crunch or increasing food prices have a more dramatic effect upon the rural households. Cars have created this ability to live farther away from society in rural areas but it has also become an expensive aspect to living in rural regions. For instance I go to school in the rural town of Canton NY and if one didn’t have a car they would have to live in the town and hopefully find work in the town, where a car would allow one great access to jobs and amenities in the area.  Seeing that personal transportation is proportionally more expensive and needed in the rural areas it is important to look at when considering legislation or economic development in these regions.