Assessing Transportation Disadvantage in Rural Ontario, Canada: A Case Study of Huron County

Eric J Marr


In virtually all rural areas of Ontario, Canada, the limited availability of transportation alternatives means that rural residents without access to a personal vehicle are at an increased risk of transportation disadvantage. To date, little research has been conducted in Ontario as to the transportation limitations of rural residents, nor has a comprehensive study of groups at risk of transportation disadvantage been conducted. To address this gap, this research involved the development and testing of a transportation disadvantage framework, using Key Informant Interviews with service providers operating within Huron County, Ontario. Five demographic groups were found to be at risk of transportation disadvantage within Huron County: (1) older adults, (2) those with physical or mental disabilities, (3) youth, (4) people in low-income households, and (5) women. The results confirm that transportation disadvantage exists on a continuum, with some groups more disadvantaged than others, as well as some services more attainable than others. The framework was found to be a useful, and accessible, starting point for assessing groups at risk of transportation disadvantage in a rural community. The findings suggest that a coordinated transportation service, serving multiple demographic groups, may contribute to reducing transportation disadvantage while better utilizing the resources of existing service providers.

Keywords: rural transportation; car dependence; transportation disadvantage; mobility; accessibility; rural Canada

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The Journal of Rural and Community Development is supported by SSHRC.