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Transit’s Role in Livable Rural Communities


A livable community is one that is safe and provides affordable housing, supportive community features and services, and adequate mobility options. With 10 million older adults currently living in rural areas, the livability of such communities is a priority. AARP produced this fact sheet to highlight the benefits of livable rural communities, with particular emphasis on the role of public transit.

Key Points

This fact sheet provides an overview of livable rural communities, benefits of transit-oriented development (TOD), and examples of successful community structures. While automobile transportation will remain important in any community, the use of public transit in a livable rural community significantly increases mobility for older adults who no longer drive.

Other fact sheet highlights include:

  1. Mixed land use is a key feature of a livable rural community. Studies show that older adults living in compact, walkable communities feel less isolated, so placing residential areas near shopping and other community features is beneficial.
  2. Walking is the second most popular means of travel among people age 65 and above. As such, facilitating walking in communities can further enhance the effectiveness of transit systems.
  3. Livable communities include a mixture of housing types, with varying degrees of affordability and accessibility. Successful communities have options for apartments, townhomes, and accessory housing – apartments in or on the property of single-family homes.
  4. The fact sheet also highlights an alternative model of a livable community, the village model. With about 50 villages nationwide, this aging in place model creates a self-governing support system for older adults and focuses on providing convenient services for community members.

How to Use

The AARP published this report to demonstrate the importance of creating livable rural communities. Reviewing this fact sheet allows planners and policy makers to recognize the benefits of such communities and prepare for the growing needs of older adults living in them.

View full report: Transit’s Role in Livable Rural Communities (PDF – 424 KB)

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