Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Civil and Environmental Engineering

First Advisor

Dana L. Rowangould


Transportation accessibility, the ease of reaching valued destinations, is critical to satisfying a person’s fundamental needs. Travel burdens such as high transportation costs, long travel times, or unmet needs, can decrease accessibility and adversely affect one’s well-being. Travel burdens can be induced by both individual and environmental factors. Prior research establishes the inverse relationship between travel burdens and access to transportation options such as public transit or a personal vehicle, financial resources, and proximity to destinations. Although travel behavior is understood to differ in rural versus nonrural contexts, few studies have evaluated the nature of travel burdens in rural communities. Using the 2017 National Household Travel Survey, this study evaluates differences in travel burdens and the factors that drive them in rural and nonrural communities in the United States. We evaluate i) the magnitude of travel burdens, ii) who experiences travel burdens, and iii) the individual and environmental factors that are associated with travel burdens. We find higher rates of burdensome travel among rural and low-income residents. People who live in rural areas are more likely to report longer medical trip durations, burdensome travel costs, and unmet travel needs due to a lack of transportation options compared to people living in nonrural areas, and these differences are exacerbated for people earning a low income and those without car access. Our results highlight the need for context-specific strategies to ensure that travel needs are met in rural communities.



Number of Pages

124 p.

Available for download on Sunday, May 04, 2025