Rural communities face a range of challenges associated with accessibility and connectivity which apply in both the physical and virtual sphere. Limitations in transport infrastructure and services can diminish travel horizons and hinder access to opportunities such as employment, education, social networks, etc. Technology has long been heralded as offering the potential to mitigate some of these barriers, by providing alternative means of access and connectivity. However, there are limitations in the development and resilience of technological infrastructures, which can compound the disparity in transport infrastructure and services between urban and rural communities. Similarly, it must also be recognised that there are disparities in the level and performance of transport and technology infrastructures between different rural contexts. Here degrees of ‘remoteness’ are significant factors. This paper will examine the context for accessibility and connectivity in rural communities highlighting key transport and technology challenges. It will explore opportunities to bring together transport and technology solutions to enhance rural accessibility and connectivity. The paper will focus specifically on two issues of current research; firstly, the role of information and associated technologies in supporting rural passengers on public transport, secondly, the use of technologies to support flexible and demand responsive transport services in rural areas.
- transport technologies
- rural communities
- accessibility and connectivity