Scheduled Intercity Transportation in Rural America

Scheduled Intercity Transportation in Rural America

Over 94 percent of the 82 million rural residents1 in the United States lived within a 25-mile radius of an intercity rail station, an intercity bus terminal, or a nonhub or small hub2 airport or within a 75-mile radius of a large or medium hub airport in early 2003. About 30 million rural residents (36 percent) were served by all three modes, while 5 million lived outside this coverage area of any scheduled intercity transportation service.

These data are the result of a January 2003 geographic information system analysis conducted by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) [1]. The results show that most rural residents can access scheduled transportation modes for long-distance intercity trips, based on the distance criteria BTS used.

At the time of the study, intercity bus reached 75 million rural residents (91 percent), and for 15 million residents it was the sole mode providing service within 25 miles (figure 5-18). Scheduled airline service reached 58 million (70 percent) and was the sole mode for 2 million rural residents. Intercity rail (Amtrak and the Alaska Railroad) reached 35 million (42 percent) and was the sole mode for about 300,000 rural residents.

In January 2003, the United States had nearly 4,590 intercity passenger stations, terminals, and airports. Over 75 percent of them were intercity bus terminals, and all but 149 of the stations, terminals, and airports were located within the 48 contiguous states.


1. U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Scheduled Intercity Transportation and the U.S. Rural Population, available at, as of October 2003.

1 Rural residents are those who live outside of urbanized areas or urban clusters as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau.

2 The term hub is used here within the context of individual airports rather than air traffic hubs, which can include more than one airport.