Center for American Progress Action

Georgia Disability Advocate Hopes for Public Transportation Investments in Rural Georgia

Georgia Disability Advocate Hopes for Public Transportation Investments in Rural Georgia

When Georgia college student Jill King lost her eyesight, she needed public transportation to maintain her work and lifestyle. But public transit is almost nonexistent in rural Georgia. For many Americans with disabilities living in rural areas, a lack of access to public transportation leaves them with few transportation options.

Photo shows Jill King smiling at the camera

Jill King is pictured in October 2022. (Photo credit: Anthony Savarese)

The same month Jill graduated from high school, she began experiencing chronic pain. When she broke her foot shortly after, it spurred further chronic pain, and she was ultimately diagnosed with fibromyalgia and ankylosing spondylitis. As a college student in rural Georgia, the lack of accessibility and disability services inspired her to co-found the Students With Disabilities Advocacy Group to support the community in and around Georgia Southern University. This year, over the course of six months, Jill lost her vision and became legally blind. The rapid rate at which she lost her vision was traumatizing. The sudden change meant Jill could no longer drive, but in a rural town such as Statesboro, there are no public transportation options. The lack of transportation forced Jill to move out of her parents’ house and into an apartment near campus where she could access a shuttle to get to school. Jill knows her local government wants to implement more public transportation options for people in the disability community and low-income residents. But the lack of funding in rural towns often means local governments cannot invest in public transportation. However, since the passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Georgia will receive $1.5 billion to improve and expand public transportation options across the state. Jill hopes this investment will spur plans to bring public transportation to Statesboro and expand travel options for people with disabilities.

I plan to stay in Statesboro to pursue my master’s degree. But this goes against the instincts I have to leave because of the lack of public transportation options here. There are graduate programs in more accessible places, but this is my home. I shouldn't have to leave because it's not accessible. Jill King

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act provides a historic investment to upgrade and expand public transportation across America. For Americans with disabilities, this investment is critical to access health care, school, work, and travel.

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