Small Urban and Rural Center on Mobility

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Research Report – An Analysis of the Costs and Benefits of Providing Increased Mobility to Reduce Social Isolation Among America's Aging Population

A study published by SURCOM analyzes the costs and benefits of providing greater mobility to socially isolated aging Americans. The number of Americans age 65 and older is projected to nearly double from 52 million in 2018 to 95 million by 2060, and the 65-and-older age group's share of the total population will rise from 16% to 23% (US Census 2018). Also, average U.S. life expectancy increased from 68 years in 1950 to 78.6 years in 2017, in large part due to the reduction in mortality at older ages.

The objective of this research was to quantify the cost of providing greater mobility through public transportation to aging adults in small urban and rural communities to lower social isolation. This was compared with the increased medical spending due to current levels of isolation.

Results for the states studied showed that from three to 10 trips per month could be provided to an isolated individual at a lower cost than the extra medical costs due to isolation. Also, an extra 25 to approximately 80 miles of service can be provided to an isolated aging adult per month for the states studied. Finally, from two to six hours of service can be provided to an isolated aging adult per month at costs equal to or less than the monthly medical costs due to isolation.

The full report and executive summary can be found at the link below:

An Analysis of the Costs and Benefits of Providing Increased Mobility to Reduce Social Isolation Among America's Aging Population

For more details, contact Del Peterson at

Transit Research Center at NDSU Adopts New Name, Broadens Mission

The Small Urban and Rural Transit Center (SURTC), a part of the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute at North Dakota State University, is changing its name to the Small Urban and Rural Center on Mobility (SURCOM).

The name change reflects the center's expanded focus which now includes all types of personal mobility. "Public transportation is still an important component of our research, education, training and outreach efforts," director Jill Hough noted. "But shared-use mobility modes such as carsharing, bikesharing, ridesharing, on-demand transit ride services and microtransit are increasingly making inroads into rural and small-urban areas. We've been expanding our work to include those modes as we examine the needs and opportunities for mobility of residents in those areas."

SURTC (now SURCOM) was established by the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute in 2002 to address the lack of research and outreach related to mobility needs in small urban and rural areas. Since then, the center has become a leader in that field, generating internationally-recognized research and providing training and outreach across the country. An advisory panel of industry and academic specialists in mobility was assembled in the Fall of 2019 as a part of a strategic planning effort and recommended the name change and assisted in writing the center's new mission statement: "To be an innovative research, education, and outreach center providing mobility solutions to small urban and rural communities." The changes became official Jan. 1, 2020.

"The name, Small Urban and Rural Center on Mobility, is a more accurate reflection of our current portfolio of activities and helps us to think more broadly about our future," Hough said. "Our vision is to be an internationally distinguished center for providing research and education for improving mobility in small urban and rural communities."

Mistry Joins SURTC Staff

Dilip Mistry has joined the Small Urban and Rural Transit Center as a postdoctoral research fellow. He has more than 10 years of work experiences in the field of Data Science, working as a GIS Data Analyst, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Consultant, and Oracle Business Intelligence Consultant. He will receive his Ph.D. in Transportation and Logistics from NDSU in August. For the last 8 years, while pursuing Ph.D., he was also working full time at HERE Technologies as Data Scientist/Data Analyst. He holds a Master of Science degree in Computer Science from North Dakota State University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET). In 2018, he was named the Region VIII Mountain-Plains Consortium Student of the Year. View his full bio.

Send Us Your Transit Pictures

SURTC is looking for rural or small urban transit pictures to use in our upcoming publications. We would greatly appreciate it if any transit providers have pictures they would be willing to share and allow us to use in publications such as the Rural Transit Fact Book. We will give proper credit for any pictures that we use. If you have any pictures that you can share, please send them to Jeremy Mattson (

Participate in FTA's National Online Dialogue to Develop 5-Year Research Strategic Plan

On behalf of FTA's Office of Research, Demonstration and Innovation, SURTC is notifying you about an opportunity to provide input on FTA's research strategic plan. See the message from FTA below about their strategic plan, online dialogue, and upcoming informational webinar.

FTA's Associate Administrator for Research, Demonstration and Innovation, Vince Valdes, invites you to participate in FTA's National Online Dialogue to develop our 5-Year Research Strategic Plan

What new transit innovations should FTA research and deploy in the next five years? FTA is taking a fresh look at its research program priorities through the lens of a five-year strategic plan. The plan will guide how FTA positions itself to be forward-thinking in how we develop new tools and technologies to advance access and mobility for all.

We want to hear from you! FTA has launched an online dialogue to inform the agency's Research Strategic Plan. We welcome any and all ideas through the duration of the dialogue, which closes September 8.

The Research Strategic Plan will set the stage for what types of research FTA should support and highlight pathways for translating proven research solutions into new and better ways of doing business. For example, years of investment in the National Fuel Cell Bus Program led to several rounds of low or no-emission bus technology deployment and in 2016, the agency established an annual grants program with dedicated funding for new technology buses. As FTA drafts its 5-year research strategic plan, we invite you to participate and lend your ideas to inform FTA's research priorities.

Visit our online dialogue to post an idea; review, comment, and vote on others' input; and provide specific feedback to the questions posed below:


  1. What key social, demographic, economic, technological, and/or other trends impact public transportation today and into the future?
  2. FTA's current research priorities are mobility, asset management and asset innovation, and safety.  Should we maintain these priorities or should they be changed?  If they should be changed, please suggest the priority research areas you recommend.
  3. What specific areas within mobility, asset management and asset innovation, and safety should be the focus of FTA research?
  4. Similarly, what major goal should the FTA research program pursue to support transit's mission?
  5. What should FTA's major goals be for research to support FTA's mission? And what performance measure metrics should FTA use to track progress in meeting them?
  6. How should FTA drive research to practice to publicize useful research results?
  7. Is there anything else you want to share or say regarding FTA's research portfolio and activities?

For more information on how you can contribute to the Research Strategic Plan online dialogue, join us for an informational webinar at 3:30 p.m. EDT on Thursday, August 11.

Send questions to


FTA FY15 Research Report

FAST Act Research Program Fact Sheet

FTA's Research and Innovation Program

Rural Transit Agencies: Apply Now for 2016 FTA Administrator's Awards

The FTA is seeking nominations for the 2016 FTA Administrator's Award for Outstanding Public Service for rural transit agencies. Any rural transit agency receiving assistance under Section 5311 may be nominated. Transit providers will be judged on their success in improving the mobility of Americans in rural areas and providing better access to jobs, health care, and other community services. Nominations must address how transit systems create connections for riders, particularly in low-income communities, as well as veterans, seniors, youths, and disadvantaged populations. Nominations are due May 15.

The awards will be presented at the 22nd National Rural Public and Intercity Bus Transportation conference in Asheville, N.C., October 2-5, 2016. Award recipients will be expected to attend the conference, where they will be honored and will have an opportunity to share the secrets of their success with other conference attendees.


2016 Administrator’s Award for Outstanding Public Service
FTA Formula Grants for Rural Areas

National Volunteer Transportation Center Accepting Applications for 2014 STAR Awards

The 2014 STAR Awards application is now open through April 11, 2014. STAR Awards ranging from $2,500 to $10,000 will be given to programs and services that involve volunteer drivers in providing transportation. These annual awards celebrate excellence, innovations, and promising practices in providing transportation services to senior passengers. The STAR Award program is sponsored by the National Volunteer Transportation Center of Washington, DC. 

Find more details and apply for the awards at the following link: 2014 STAR Award Application

Dr. Hough Featured in APTA's Passenger Transport

A profile of Jill Hough, SURTC director, is featured in the February 8 issue of the American Public Transportation Association’s newsletter, Passenger Transport, and on its website. Click on the following links to read the profile and watch a video of Jill discussing SURTC.

APTA Member Profile of Jill Hough

Video of Jill Hough discussing SURTC

Transit Policy Resources Posted to SURTC Website

New resources have been added to the SURTC website to assist transit agencies in developing policies and procedures. SURTC collected a number of sample policies, procedures, and report forms from different organizations and posted them online so they can be viewed, downloaded, and adopted by transit agencies.

Included are good examples of advisory board by-laws, driver handbooks, no-show policies, riders’ guides, vehicle maintenance programs, accident report forms, guidelines on local planning and coordination, and many others. As with all samples, these should be reviewed by your board of directors and legal counsel if you wish to adopt them.

These transit policy examples are found in the Other Resources section of the SURTC website.

Call for Papers: Special Rural and Intercity Bus Edition of the Journal of Public Transportation

Papers offering contributions in the area of rural and intercity bus are being solicited for submission for a special issue of the Journal of Public Transportation, with support from the USF Center for Urban Transportation and NDSU Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute’s (UGPTI) Small Urban and Rural Transit Center (SURTC). This special edition of JPT will be made available at the 20th National Conference on Rural Public and Intercity Bus Transportation in Salt Lake City, Utah, October 14-17, 2012.

The deadline for submission is April 27, 2012. See the Call for Papers for more details.