How Access to Transportation Has Transformed Mississippi Residents' Lives

The 19th century saw a remarkable transformation in the way Americans moved around, as thousands of people left the coastal states in the east to seek out opportunities in the west. Unlike their predecessors, who traveled on foot or in wagons, these settlers had access to new transportation options made possible by the construction of roads, canals and railroads. This evolution of transportation systems has had an interesting effect on the role played by the Mississippi River in river cities. Beginning in 1823, with the launch of the first steamboat on the Mississippi River, primitive methods of transportation declined drastically. Along with the hundreds of steamboats that crossed American rivers, these advances in transportation made it easier and cheaper to transport agricultural products from the West to feed people in the cities of the East and to ship manufactured goods from the East to people in the West. The economic situation of Mississippi residents is lower than that of neighboring states, which prevents them from having their own means of transportation.

This decrease in job opportunities affects residents living in the Delta as they are now losing their chances of achieving economic stability. Furthermore, there are not many transportation options available in the state, particularly for those with low incomes. Rural Mississippi areas desperately need a full-time transportation system that is dependable and can take residents wherever and whenever they need to travel. Public transportation provides reliable transportation solutions for Mississippi residents with limited mobility options. Providers offer trips that promote connectivity from rural to urban areas and allow citizens to stay connected to the people and places that matter most.

Transportation barriers to health care have a disproportionate impact on people who are poor and have chronic diseases. Our study documents a major problem in accessing health care at a time when transportation technology is changing rapidly. In an extensive and continuous study on upward mobility conducted at Harvard, travel time has become the most important factor in escaping poverty. Mississippi residents struggle to get to work, to doctor's appointments and to grocery stores due to lack of transportation. There are not many transportation opportunities available in Mississippi, with the exception of those living in Jackson, Mississippi, who have access to public transportation. The evolution of transportation systems has had a significant impact on Mississippi residents' lives.

Access to reliable public transportation has enabled them to stay connected with their loved ones and places that matter most. It has also allowed them to access health care services more easily and has improved their chances of escaping poverty. However, there is still much work to be done as rural areas still lack dependable transportation options.

Abby Parrett
Abby Parrett

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