We support the rural bus service

Published 8:21 am Thursday, April 14, 2016

In March, Kenbridge Town Council said it would continue to support the local bus service. The town puts about $5,400 a year into the bus system, including insurance.

Blackstone Area Bus System and Piedmont Area Transit provide public transportation for the residents of Blackstone, Nottoway, Amelia, Buckingham, Cumberland, Prince Edward, Brunswick and Lunenburg, the Blackstone Area Bus website states.

During the recent discussion on the service, Mayor Emory Hodges speculated that without Kenbridge’s support “the whole thing may collapse.”

That is probably true. One locality bailing out might prompt others to do the same.

But the greater truth is that rural, public transportation is a desperately needed service, even if ridership doesn’t seem to indicate it.

That’s because for those most dependent on it, public transportation provides for the greatest need — to get to doctor’s appointments, to go shopping, to run errands, not to mention to get to work or school. And it is a need that will only get greater with time as our population ages and some people — voluntarily or involuntarily — find themselves unable to continue driving.

Actually, various studies and agencies say that it appears that the appeal of public transportation will likely grow for two reasons: an aging population and younger people are more receptive to using public transportation. We’ll add also that we also meet retirees who have returned home after living and working in large cities, where they got used to and enjoyed public transportation.

True, many of the reports promoting public transportation are geared toward urban areas, but the needs in rural areas are no less — and may be greater. In an urban area, there is at least the likelihood of some services — even if it’s just a convenience store where you can pick up a few supplies — within walking distance. In the country? Not likely. And even if there is, unlike in an urban area where there is usually curb and gutter, in the country you have to walk a course that was not designed for pedestrians — often on uneven paths beside a road where traffic is zipping by.

Most of us take for granted being able to travel when we feel like it. We shouldn’t; and, as we get older, many of us won’t. We can’t help but think that in a mobile society the option of public transportation is more than an option: It’s a necessity. We commend Kenbridge for its continued support public transportation.