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NETL Supports Program To Improve Mobility, Access to Transportation in Rural Communities
This van will help Greene County residents in southwestern Pennsylvania travel to medical appointments and other essential services through the Rural Access Mobility Platform (RAMP).

This van will help Greene County residents in southwestern Pennsylvania travel to medical appointments and other essential services through the Rural Access Mobility Platform (RAMP).

Residents in Greene County, Pennsylvania, can now request rides to health care appointments and other services as part of a four-month pilot program, advanced with NETL oversight and support, to bring mobility and efficient transportation solutions to rural America.

“In much of rural America, public transportation is scarce or unavailable, limiting the ability of residents to see their doctor or even buy groceries,” said NETL’s Nicole Kirby, a technical project officer who supports technology integration related to the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).

The Rural Access Mobility Platform (RAMP), which is supported with $909,997 in federal cost-share funding, was launched May 1 in Greene County, a largely rural county in the southwest corner of the state. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county is 578 square miles in size and has less than 34,400 residents.

Available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., RAMP operates one van on a regular fixed-route service between Waynesburg and Carmichaels, while two other vans offer on-demand service throughout the county. To request a ride, residents should call 724-780-RAMP (7267) or visit

Routes were designed according to the results of a 2022 survey of more than 600 Greene County residents. While Greene does have a county-run transportation service, RAMP is designed to fill in the gaps and complement existing public transportation options.

In their research, RAMP developers found that mobility services to rural areas are generally insufficient, inefficient, unaffordable and inaccessible. In addition, rural driving trips are likely to be expensive, long and energy inefficient due to their frequent single-trip purpose.

“A lot of rural areas don’t have Uber or similar services,” Kirby said. “Where reliable public transportation is unavailable, there is a limit to where people can work, shop, access health care or seek opportunities to thrive.”

RAMP has the potential to advance the fundamental knowledge of how technology-coordinated, community-powered mobility services can be extended to link with other regional transportation systems and be adaptable for use as a model to address transportation needs in other rural communities.

Funding for RAMP was allocated under EERE’s Vehicle Technologies Program Office to the Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) Mobility Data Analytics Center. Blueprints, a community-based nonprofit, Waynesburg University and Greene County are subrecipients. According to Kirby, the three Honda Odyssey vans in the RAMP fleet were donated.

“Mobility service solutions readily broaden transportation choices and improve equity in urban environments. However, most of our U.S. land area is rural and lacks alternative mobility solutions. The RAMP project is an exciting implementation of technology and community partnerships that will inform rural communities across the country in efficient and cost-effective transportation solutions,” Kirby said.

RAMP got its start before the pandemic during a joint research project with Waynesburg University and CMU to look for ways to solve food insecurity problems in rural counties. Researchers found a key element in food insecurity is a lack of reliable transportation.

NETL is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory that drives innovation and delivers solutions for an environmentally sustainable and prosperous energy future. By leveraging its world-class talent and research facilities, NETL is ensuring affordable, abundant and reliable energy that drives a robust economy and national security, while developing technologies to manage carbon across the full life cycle, enabling environmental sustainability for all Americans.