Small Urban and Rural Center on Mobility

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SURCOM Participating in Rural Public and Intercity Bus Transportation Conference

SURCOM staff are participating in the 24th National Conference on Rural Public and Intercity Bus Transportation. This conference is being held October 25-27 online. The conference offers a valuable experience for rural transit and human service transit providers, tribal transit managers, planners, state agency staff, intercity bus operators, consultants, researchers, and trainers. The 2021 conference will include multiple routes to offer learning opportunities in planning, design, and research; policy, funding, and finance; special topics on rural mobility; rural and tribal transportation; and better mobility through technology. Below is a list of sessions in which SURCOM will be participating.

  • Jill Hough is moderating the session "The Census, Population Estimates, and Their Impacts on Funding," October 25, 11:30-1:30 pm CT.
  • Del Peterson is presenting "ITS Technology Usage and Feasibility in Small Urban and Rural Transit" in the session "The Role of Technology in Rural Transit: Ready Set Go," October 25, 11:30-1:30 pm CT.
  • Jeremy Mattson is presenting "Measuring the Benefits of Rural and Small Urban Transit Services in Greater Minnesota" in the session "The Economics and Benefits of Small Urban and Rural Transit," October 26, 9:00-11:00 am CT.
  • Rob Lynch is presenting "eLearning Training for Small Urban, Rural and Tribal Transit Providers" in the session "Train the Trainer: Bootcamp, E-learning and De-Escalation," October 26, 9:00-11:00 am CT.
  • Del Peterson and Jill Hough are giving the student paper awards during the "FTA Administrator and Awards" session, October 26, 11:30-1:30 pm CT.
  • Ranjit Godavarthy is moderating the session "Smart Stuff: Hubs, Networks, Flexibility," October 26, 2:00-4:00 pm CT.
  • Dilip Mistry is presenting "State of Good Repair Predictive Model for Small Urban and Rural Transit System’s Rolling Stock Assets" in the session "Assessment, Planning, and Implementation: Three Important Steps," which is being moderated by Jeremy Mattson, October 26, 2:00-4:00 pm CT.
  • Jill Hough and Jeremy Mattson are presenting "Mobility Services and Needs for North Dakota Residents" in the session "Meeting Needs: Rural Residents, Seniors and National Parks," which is being moderated by Del Peterson, October 27, 11:30-1:30 pm CT.

Webinar – Tribal Transit Needs Indicators and Livability

SURCOM is participating in a webinar hosted by the National Aging and Disability Transportation Center (NADTC) on October 19 from 11:30 am – 12:15 pm CT. This webinar, which will focus on tribal transit and livability in tribal communities, is part of NADTC's Transportation Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Lunch & Learn series. SURCOM researchers Ranjit Godavarthy and Jeremy Mattson will provide a summary of the Tribal Transit Study: Demographic Needs Indicators, Funding Needs, and Livability.

This presentation will examine the demographics of tribal communities that relate to transportation needs, geographic characteristics that create challenges in meeting those needs, trends in tribal transit operations and funding and the role of transit in livability and quality of life in tribal communities in the United States.

Click here for more information and to register.

SURCOM Presenting at National Transportation in Indian Country Conference

SURCOM is presenting a session at the 2021 National Transportation in Indian Country Conference (NTICC) on Topics in Tribal Transit Research. This conference is virtual and is being held September 27 – October 1. The SURCOM session is October 1 at 12:30 – 2:00 pm central time. Jeremy Mattson, Ranjit Godavarthy, Jill Hough, and Dilip Mistry will present recent and on-going research related to tribal transit. Topics to be discussed include demographics, livability in tribal communities and transit's role in improving livability, emerging shared-use mobility practices, and access to food. A demonstration will also be given of the new Rural Transit eTool that provides data on rural and tribal transit across the country. Visit the conference website for more information and to register.

Webinar: Suburban and Rural Applications of Automated Vehicles

Join SURCOM as we participate in the virtual Pennsylvania Automated Vehicle Summit Series “Suburban and Rural Applications of Automated Vehicles” webinar on Thursday, August 12th from 1:00 – 2:30 PM CT.

SURCOM director Dr. Jill Hough will be moderating a robust discussion with esteemed panelists on the topic of automation equity. Specifically, the conversation will address mobility solutions for rural areas and automated vehicle applications that could have positive impacts on rural and suburban areas. SURCOM researcher Dr.  Ranjit Godavarthy will be one of the panelists. We hope you can join us to listen and engage in this important dialogue!

Learn more about the PA AV Summit Series at There is no cost to attend, but you must register to receive the link to join at:

SURCOM Presented Research at International Conference on Transport and Health

SURCOM researcher Jeremy Mattson presented results at the International Conference on Transport and Health (ICTH) on June 29 regarding the benefits that rural and small urban transit systems provide by improving access to health care. This virtual conference focused on transport systems and health impacts. Jeremy Mattson's presentation was based on research conducted for the Minnesota Department of Transportation that measured the benefits of rural and small urban transit services in Greater Minnesota. This research, which was published in April 2020, showed that the benefits of providing transit in Greater Minnesota exceed the costs of providing it. The benefits from improving access to health care was found to be the most significant contributor. Visit the link below for the report, summary documents, and a video summary.

Report: Measuring the Economic Benefits of Rural and Small Urban Transit Services in Greater Minnesota

All ICTH sessions were recorded and are available to anyone registered through August 30, 2021. Registration is still available at the link below for those who would like access to the recordings.

Registration for Recorded Sessions: International Conference on Transport & Health

Influence Research in Progress! Participate in an Interactive Data Collection Webinar on How Vehicle Automation Will Impact the Transit Workforce

Automated vehicle technology is already being used in public transit and could have a significant future role: from automated bus yard operations to automated shuttles to even automated bus rapid transit and local bus service. However, there are many uncertainties regarding how automation will be applied and how operational and workforce impacts will be handled. These uncertainties are largely influenced by choices that will be made by industry decision makers.

The Texas A&M Transportation Institute research team leading the Transit Cooperative Research Program study, The Effects of Vehicle Automation on the Public Transportation Workforce, is holding two interactive industry webinars to collect data from transportation representatives on the most likely choices that will be made by industry decision makers. (For example, will automated shuttles most likely expand transit service coverage or be used to replace unproductive service? Or both?)

Attendees will have the opportunity to:

  • learn about potential transit automation use cases,
  • hear about likely workforce impacts, and
  • respond to live polls that will influence what options get implemented by the research team when forecasting automation’s impacts on the public transportation workforce.

The webinars are scheduled for Tuesday, June 16, 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. CST and Thursday, June 18, 2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. CST. Attend one of these webinars to have your voice heard and to influence this important research! We’re encouraging attendance of transportation industry representatives from all perspectives and backgrounds. To register, visit the webinar homepage and choose one of the scheduled events!

Questions about the research or webinars should be directed to Michael J. Walk, the study’s Principal Investigator, at

Webinar – Impactful Transit Agency and University Collaborations

The West Region Transportation Workforce Center and the Western Transportation Institute at Montana State University are hosting a webinar that explores successful collaborations between transit agencies and university students and staff. See details below for more information.

Register Now

Date and Time: Tuesday, November 5, at 11 am PT/Noon MT/1 pm CT/2 pm ET

Overview: How can transit agencies develop the skillsets of the future workforce while improving day-to-day operations? This webinar highlights successful collaborations between transit agencies and university students and faculty that accomplish both goals. Speakers will showcase collaborations that engage students in diverse transit-focused projects, providing students the opportunity to develop and apply knowledge to authentic problems in a real context, while providing agencies with fresh new ideas and focused energy on a task or issue.


  • Shaping the Future Skills Needed to Overcome Challenges
    • Maria Dahmus, Director, University of St. Thomas Sustainable Communities Partnership
    • Kelly Morrell, Commuter Programs Specialist, Metro Transit
  • Building Partnerships that Work for Rural and Regional Transit Systems
    • Julia Castillo, Executive Director, Heart of Iowa Regional Transit Agency
  • Harnessing Student Capacity to Address Diverse Project Needs
    • Andrew Martin, Development Planner, Lane Transit District


  • West Region Transportation Workforce Center
  • Western Transportation Institute, Montana State University

Webinar – Opportunities for State DOTs (and others) to Encourage Shared-Use Mobility Practices in Rural Areas

Ranjit Godavarthy, SURTC researcher and assistant professor, will be conducting a webinar on shared-use mobility practices in rural areas for the Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR) as part of the CUTR Transportation Webcast series.

Title: Opportunities for State DOTs (and others) to Encourage Shared-Use Mobility Practices in Rural Area

Date: September 26 at 11:00 am Central Time


Description: Shared-use mobility (SUM) practices are transportation services that are shared among users. SUM can include ‘traditional SUM’ practices such as public transit, taxis, limousines, etc., or ‘technology enabled SUM’ practices such as ridesourcing, carsharing, bikesharing, micortransit services, etc. While SUM practices exist in all size communities, their presence is less prominent in rural communities.

SUM practices have the potential to fill mobility gaps by offering fast, on-demand, and reliable transportation options. Many innovative SUM initiatives are being piloted and implemented in rural communities in conjunction with already-existing rural transit/transportation services and with business models tailored for rural communities. This study investigated various categories of SUM services such as ridesourcing, carsharing, bikesharing, and microtransit service’s applicability in rural communities and determined the potential to supplement and/or complement traditional rural transit/transportation services.

One of the outputs of the study is a five-task rural SUM toolkit for strategies such as ridesourcing, carsharing, bikesharing, microtransit, as well as rural mobility as a service (MaaS) platforms. The rural SUM toolkit can inform state DOTs, regional transportation agencies, rural transit agencies, local governments, human service agencies, and other state and local agencies about the various steps and tasks involved for strategically planning to pilot and implement relevant SUM strategies to meet the unique transportation needs in rural communities. This toolkit can be applicable for small urban communities as well.

Webinar – Transit and Livability

Jeremy Mattson, SURTC researcher and assistant professor, will be conducting a webinar on transit and livability for the Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR) as part of the CUTR Transportation Webcast series.

Title: Transit and Livability: Results from the National Community Livability Survey

Date: September 12 at 11:00 am Central Time


Description: This webinar will present results from a national survey that was conducted to understand factors important to livability in both urban and rural areas across the country and to study the role of transportation and public transit. While many factors influence a community’s livability, affordable transportation options, such as transit services, can be an important contributor in both large and small communities. The study team conducted a survey, called the National Community Livability Survey, where respondents ranked the importance of livability factors and the quality of those factors in their communities, as well as perceived community quality of life. The survey provides information about what factors individuals in both urban and rural areas believe are important for community livability, as well as how they rate the quality of those factors in their communities. This information provides insight on how livability could be improved. An analysis of the survey data shows that livability improves as travel becomes easier, and community livability ultimately has a positive impact on overall life satisfaction. The presentation will describe the data that was collected, summarize the results, compare the results to previous case studies conducted in rural communities, and discuss the implications for improving livability and quality of life.

This webinar is based on a published SURTC report that can be downloaded here:

Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute Celebrates 50 Years Aug. 30 at NDSU

The Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute at North Dakota State University will celebrate its 50th Anniversary Wednesday, Aug. 30, from noon to 4 p.m. with safety and transportation exhibits, free food, and information about the Institute and its history.

The celebration will be held on the south end of NDSU Visitor Parking Lot E. There will be a brief program at 12:30 featuring comments from UGPTI and university officials as well as representatives from North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum's office and the offices of North Dakota Senators John Hoeven, Heidi Heitkamp, and ND Congressman Kevin Cramer.

Hands-on exhibits will be open until 4 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

  • Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute will display exhibits about its history as well as current research, outreach and education programs.
  • ND Army National Guard will display one of its vehicles and will serve hot dogs to the first 500 visitors.
  • ND Army National Guard will demonstrate the hazards of impaired driving through the use of impaired driving simulation goggles and large trikes on an obstacle course.
  • MATBUS will have one of its buses on display and will provide route information and giveaways.
  • Great Rides Bikeshare will exhibit one of its bikes and staff will be available to answer questions.
  • Bike FM will provide information about bike routes and biking in the Fargo-Moorhead area.
  • The ND Department of Transportation will have a hologram board and virtual reality goggles to simulate impaired driving and involvement in a crash.
  • FM Ambulance will display one of its state-of-the-art ambulances.
  • FM Transportation Club will demonstrate the "no zone" by allowing visitors to climb into the cab of a semi so they can see the blind spots that drivers should avoid.
  • MState in Moorhead will allow visitors to experience driving a "big rig" through the use of its truck-driving simulator.
  • CAT will allow participants to learn how to operate a motor grader or large excavator through the use of one of its simulators.
  • NDSU Police and Safety Office has arranged for display of the Deutscher Family Vehicle. The Deutscher family was killed by a drunk driver in 2012. The display allows viewers to see first-hand the tragic result of drunken driving.
  • NDSU Police and Safety will also allow visitors to don "beer goggles" and play Mario Cart to demonstrate the effects of impaired driving.

In addition to the exhibits and demonstrations, staff of the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute will be available to answer questions about the Institute and its programs. The Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute was created in 1967 by the North Dakota Legislature to study the unique transportation challenges facing agricultural producers and processors in the region. The institute has broadened its mission substantially and creatively, responding to emerging needs. Its current mission is to provide innovative transportation research, education, and outreach that promote the safe and efficient movement people and goods.


For more information contact Tom Jirik, UGPTI communications coordinator, at or (701) 231-9629.