Article Details

Research Database: Article Details

Citation:  Fletcher, C.N., Garasky, S.B., Jensen, H.H., & Nielsen, R.B. (2010). Transportation access: A key employment barrier for rural low-income families. Journal of Poverty, 14 123-144.
Title:  Transportation access: A key employment barrier for rural low-income families
Authors:  Fletcher, C.N., Garasky, S.B., Jensen, H.H., & Nielsen, R.B.
Year:  2010
Journal/Publication:  Journal of Poverty
Publisher:  Routledge
Full text:    |   PDF   
Peer-reviewed?  Yes
NIDILRR-funded?  Not reported

Structured abstract:

Background:  Seeking work and improving economic outcomes for low-income families continues to present challenges. Although these difficulties exist in both rural and urban areas, rural areas have demographic, economic, and geographic characteristics that result in unique challenges for encouraging work. Among the most frequently cited barriers to employment is a lack of transportation.
Purpose:  This study synthesizes the findings of three studies conducted in Iowa exploring the importance of transportation for employment among rural low-income families.
Study sample:  The first study consisted of 35 low-income families. The second study built on the findings of the first and included two focus groups. One focus group consisted of eight community professionals (e.g., social workers, transportation experts), and the second group included welfare recipients ages 22-36. The third study included 768 households of the general population and welfare recipients.
Data collection and analysis:  For study number one, the investigation was qualitative and longitudinal consisting of in-depth semistructured interviews conducted from 1997-2001. All interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim for coding and analysis. Study number two consisted of secondary data analysis to develop a profile of work patterns and transportation needs followed by two focus group interviews to identify local transportation needs. Lastly, the county‚Äôs employment and commuting patterns were analyzed using U.S. Census Bureau data. Study number three utilized the Iowa Transportation and Employment Survey (ITES) targeting low-income households in rural areas. The ITES survey was conducted with 768 households via telephone. Both descriptive statistics and multivariate regression were presented for the data obtained.
Findings:  Responses from 41 agencies indicate that public transportation options within their service area in either limited or non-existent. Although some public transportation was available in some areas served by 17 of the agencies interviewed, bus schedules were too limited. Another 21 agencies represented indicated that there were no public transportation options available in certain regions served.
Conclusions:  Lack of reliable transportation was a significant barrier to employment. The results of inadequate transportation extend beyond employment and affect everyday family care and health care access. Private transportation was viewed by many respondents as the only reliable solution to the transportation barriers, but a high proportion of rural residents in this study did not own a car. Nearly 40% lacked access to reliable transportation, which resulted in financial difficulties for nearly 50% of those surveyed. Both health and inadequate transportation present significant barriers to employment.

Disabilities served:  Multiple disabilities
Populations served:  Other