Small Urban and Rural Center on Mobility

Posts for "2010"

Regional Transit Coordination in North Dakota Studied

A new SURTC report titled "Public Transit Regional Coordination Pilot Projects in North Dakota" by Jon Mielke, Carol Wright, David Ripplinger, Dr. James H. Miller, and Del Peterson has been posted online.

This publication is a result of action from North Dakota's 2009 Legislature that directed the state Department of Transportation to initiate two public transit regional coordination projects. NDDOT subsequently contracted with SURTC to develop corresponding implementation plans.

Regional steering committees were created in each region and an extensive public input process was undertaken to solicit input from the regions' transit managers and the public. A review process was also undertaken to study coordination in states that might be similar to North Dakota, to identify corresponding federal mandates concerning the coordination of transit services, and to identify industry best practices from around the country and within the two pilot regions.

Preliminary recommendations were presented to each region's regional steering committee (including all of each region's transit managers) and through a series of public information meetings. The draft report was also shared with all of the state's transit managers; related input was included in the report. The resulting report was presented to NDDOT in December 2010. The department forwarded the report, along with its corresponding implementation plans, to North Dakota's 2011 Legislature. The Legislature will ultimately determine what additional policy directives, if any, are needed.

A First-Hand Account of TCRP's International Transit Studies Program

Brenda Schweitzer, Executive Director of Brookings Area Transit Authority in Brookings, SD, recently spent several days visiting transit systems around the world with a group of transit professionals from the United States. The trip was part of the Transit Cooperative Research Program’s (TCRP’s) International Transit Studies Program (ITSP).

Schweitzer was nominated and selected to participate in the fall 2010 Transportation Mission Study, “Public Transportation Systems as the Foundation for Economic Growth.” The trip took her and her group to Istanbul, Turkey; Cairo, Egypt; and Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa. They toured the transit operations in these cities and studied how local investments are linked to economic growth.

The participants will now compile their notes in preparation of their mission report. Of her experience, Brenda wrote:

“Throughout the world, transportation is a major part of society, bringing social, economic and environmental values to light. I look forward to bringing this gained knowledge to my system and the rural areas we serve. We can appreciate the sparse populations we work with, as well as the cohesive working relationships we have with the federal, state and local funding sources.”

To learn more about the transit systems in these cities and Brenda's experiences, read the following article she wrote about her trip: Brenda Schweitzer's International Trip

Presentations from Conference on Rural Public and Intercity Bus Transportation Available Online

The Transportation Research Board has released a Final Program for the 19th National Conference on Rural Public and Intercity Bus Transportation, held October 24-27, 2010, in Burlington, Vermont. Most of the presentations from this conference are now available online and are linked to within this document. Click here to open the Final Program (pdf), and then click on the presenters names highlighted in blue to view the presentations.

SURTC was heavily involved in this conference. Director Jill Hough served as the Chair of the Conference Planning Committee, and researchers David Ripplinger, Del Peterson, and Jeremy Mattson gave presentations and moderated sessions. The following are links to the presentations (pdf documents) given by SURTC staff:

SURTC to Hold Courses on Principles of Transit Management and Fiscal Management

SURTC trainer Carol Wright will be conducting a Principles of Transit Management course January 11-13 in Alexandria, Minnesota. Principles of Transit Management is an intensive three-day course that covers virtually all aspects of transit and paratransit management for rural and small urban operators across America.

To address concerns of transit managers trying to balance their financial operations while meeting the transit needs of the communities they serve, SURTC is holding a training course called Transit Dollars and Sense: Sound Fiscal Management Using Performance Measures February 7-8 in Houston, Texas. This class will provide transit agencies with easy to understand tools, strategies, and suggestions and will help participants so that they can accurately know their fully allocated costs, prepare accurate budgets, evaluate their transit system's performance, improve decision making, and develop tracking mechanisms that can provide important information for managing transit operations.

For more information about these courses, including registration information, visit the SURTC Training and Outreach page.

SURTC Publishes Findings from Survey of People with Disabilities

Mobility is fundamental for people to live full and satisfying lives in their communities. For adults with disabilities, access to community transportation is often limited. To address issues of mobility for people with disabilities in North Dakota, SURTC recently completed a study titled "Assessing Existing and Needed Community Transportation for People with Disabilities in North Dakota." This study developed and administered a survey to a sample of people with disabilities in the state. The survey instrument was developed in such a way that it could be used by communities and states beyond North Dakota for collecting similar information and could be used over time to assess progress in providing transportation for adults with disabilities.

Responses were received from 131 people in the state, including those with physical, sensory, cognitive, and emotional disabilities. A large percentage of the respondents were transit-dependent or dependent on others for rides. The survey collected information from individuals regarding their travel behavior, ability to make needed or desired trips, use of community transportation options (public transit, human service agencies, other), unmet needs, and difficulties encountered.

The results indicated that a significant percentage of respondents desire more trips than they are currently taking, and lack of transportation appears to be the main limiting factor. Unmet demand was greatest for leisure, recreation, and social trips, as about two-thirds of respondents said they desired more of these types of trips. The survey also revealed significant dissatisfaction with available transportation options, both in the community and for long-distance trips. The most significant concerns with public transportation regarded service availability. Other service factors that respondents were dissatisfied with include waiting time, scheduling procedures, and ride reservation time. Respondents were most satisfied with being safe from both crime and accidents and were generally satisfied with drivers, vehicle comfort, and access to information.

The study also examined how often individuals make trips, specific problems they have with using fixed-route or paratransit service, use of travel training, and use or door-to-door or door-through-door service, and it compares results from a similar survey conducted nearly a decade ago.

Questions related to the research should be directed to Jeremy Mattson (

FTA Awards Grants to Fund Environmentally Sustainable Transit Projects

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) last week announced funding for 63 environmentally sustainable transit projects across the country.

According to the  FTA news release:

The money is being provided through FTA’s Fiscal Year 2010 Discretionary Sustainability Funding Opportunity, announced last April, which comprises two programs: $89.7 million from FTA’s Clean Fuels Grant Program, including partial funding from the Bus and Bus Facility discretionary program, and $75 million from FTA’s Transit Investment in Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction (TIGGER) Program. The Clean Fuels funds were awarded to 36 transit recipients; TIGGER funds were awarded to 27 recipients.

Transit systems from both urban and rural areas received funding from these programs.  Examples of projects funded include those replacing traditional diesel-powered buses with hybrid electric or natural gas buses and those installing energy efficient technologies at transit facilities.  The complete list of winning projects is available on the FTA website.

Rural Transit Systems Honored

Six rural transit systems were honored last week by receiving this year's Outstanding Rural Transit System award. The awards were presented by FTA Deputy Administrator Therese McMillan at last week's National Conference on Rural Public and Intercity Bus Transportation in Burlington, Vermont. SURTC director Jill Hough presided over the ceremony. The awards were given to the following transit providers:

  • Special Transit of Boulder, CO
  • Rural Community Transportation of St. Johnsbury, VT
  • Citylink Public Transit System of Worley, ID
  • Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency of Cookeville, TN
  • Flint Hills Transportation Agency of Manhattan, KS
  • South Central Adult Services Council of Valley City, ND

Pat Hansen of South Central Adult Services in Valley City, ND receiving an award for Outstanding Rural Transit System from FTA Deputy Administrator Therese McMillan and SURTC director and conference chair Jill Hough.

The awards were given to rural systems that have addressed and overcome major challenges in providing coordinated transportation services resulting in rural and urban synergies. The U.S. Secretary of Transportation congratulated the winners and discussed the important role rural transit operators provide in this blog, the FAST LANE.

SURTC's Annual Report Published

SURTC's 2009 Annual Report has been published and is available online. The report covers SURTC's activities for the January 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010 period. Current and previous annual reports are available on the SURTC website.

SURTC Releases Fall 2010 Newsletter

The Fall 2010 SURTC newsletter is now available on the SURTC website. To better facilitate information exchange, SURTC is moving to a more frequent, condensed version of our newsletter. This new version of our newsletter, which is called the Transit Lane Brief, will be published quarterly. The current issue has stories on SURTC's regional coordination study, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood's visit to North Dakota, and new SURTC research projects, as well as updates on training and education activities. The current and previous issues can be downloaded from the SURTC website.

SURTC Staff to Participate in National Rural Transit Conference

Small Urban and Rural Transit Center staff will be busy during the 19th National Conference on Rural Public and Intercity Bus Transportation being held October 24-27, 2010 in Burlington, Vermont.

Dr. Jill Hough, director of the Small Urban and Rural Transit Center, is serving as chair of the conference that covers planning and design; policy, funding and finance; rural transportation in today's operating environment; technology; and special issues.

Jeremy Mattson will present a paper on the mobility of older adults and people with disabilities in North Dakota. Del Peterson will moderate a session on commuter programs and present a paper on transit and residential choice. David Ripplinger will present papers on technology use by rural transit agencies and uses of Rural National Transit Database (Rural NTD) data as well as moderate the session on Rural NTD.