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Rural transit systems are helping Mississippians in their daily lives

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Following a press conference in Jackson, Residents of Claiborne County board one of the public transit busses as they prepare to travel back to their home county.
Kobee Vance, MPB News

Investments are being made to grow rural transit in Mississippi, with goals to help residents get to work, the hospital, or grocery stores. Experts say public transit can be a game-changer for many of the state’s rural communities.



Regina Rankin lives in a small town outside of Port Gibson, and says she used to be able to travel wherever she needed to go on her own. But when she could no longer drive, and needed to get to the hospital, she was surprised to find that her local public transit system was able to arrive at her front door.

Rankin says “I didn’t have a clue, and when I did find out, I was real excited because I couldn’t get anybody because they were at work and had no other way to get there. So they provided an opportunity that I would not have had.”

The program is run by the Claiborne County Human Resources Department, and is the recipient of a federal grant to invest in rural infrastructure. Transportation Commissioner Willie Simmons says it’s important for all residents to have access to transit, no matter where they live.

“Transportation today is very costly. This is affordable and quality to these elderly and poor citizens,” says Simmons. “So when we put it out in the rural part of the state, it’s bringing the entire state together and connecting those poor citizens and elderly to those services they are so much in need of.”

The grant is part of a national push to expand rural infrastructure to ensure residents of all demographics can do essential tasks, such as visit hospitals, go to work, and get food. Nuria Fernandez is the Administrator of the Federal Transit Administration.

“And the investment here is to bring forward technology that would allow the individual to make the ride in their own time for when they need to go, and to be able to get that right at their front door,” says Fernandez.

Officials say this funding will be used to make it easier for those unfamiliar with technology to order a ride.