Weekly Feature

2018-01-11 / Editorials

Rural poor need better public transportation

In January, the Rural Outreach Center is highlighting poverty in our community during the “ROC Resolutions” campaign. The goal is to bring awareness to the 200,000 people living in poverty in the rural areas of Western New York.

One of the challenges is for people to try using public transportation for a week. For many, this can be difficult. There are errands to run, kids to chauffeur around and jobs to get to. This is hard enough for people living in the city and suburbs, but for people living in rural areas, not having a personal vehicle can have devastating effects.

Consider this: According to Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority’s website, there are two buses that run from East Aurora to downtown Buffalo. The first, bus A, arrives in East Aurora at Fillmore Avenue and Riley Street at 6:10 a.m. Monday through Friday, arriving downtown at 7:05 a.m. It is scheduled to leave downtown at 4:14 p.m., with an estimated arrival at 5:08 p.m. The second, bus C, departs from the same location as A at 7 a.m. and arrives downtown at 7:42 a.m. It departs downtown Buffalo at 5:09 p.m. and arrives back in East Aurora at 5:47 p.m.

This might seem logical on paper, but there are a few issues with this. First off, this bus is only for East Aurora. There is not a bus for people living in Wales or Holland. The A bus stops in Elma, but the C bus does not. So essentially, people living in these areas must find jobs that accommodate the bus schedule. This also means that if the person needs to transfer buses downtown, their availability is decreased due to the time they must spend taking another bus. Lets not forget that since the buses don’t run on weekends, the option to work during these prime hours for some businesses is off the table for people in rural areas. There has been some talk in other states of subsidizing ride-sharing services, which could make a difference in filling the gap between places public transportation doesn’t reach. But with the current administration in Washington, D.C., that idea most likely won’t happen anytime soon.

Since public transportation is so scarce in Western New York, Rural Transit Services has stepped up to help. The organization offers rides for low-income people. For more information on how to access its services, call 549-5098.

What people in rural areas really need is a better source of public transportation, a way to work in a community with better job opportunities. When people have the power to provide for themselves, they can slowly work themselves out of poverty.

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