Small Urban and Rural Center on Mobility

Posts for "2010"

Rural Transit Technology Course to be Held in Conjunction with NRITS Conference

Implementing Rural Transit Technology, a joint course of the Small Urban and Rural Transit Center and the National Transit Institute (NTI), will be held August 1-2 in Huntington, West Virginia, in conjunction with the National Rural ITS (NRITS) Conference. The course is geared toward transit professionals, state DOT office staff, and regional planners involved in planning and implementing technology-based systems for rural transit operations.

A specialized transit track that includes transit-specific sessions, a human services transportation workshop, in addition to the Implementing Rural Transit Technology course will be part of this year's NRITS Conference. Registration for participation in the transit track can be made online.

More information on the Implementing Rural Transit Technology course is available on the NTI website.

Transit Technology Report Released

The Small Urban and Rural Transit Center (SURTC) has published the findings from a national survey on technology use by transit agencies serving small urban and rural communities. The survey, which was completed by 451 agencies in 45 states, collected data on agency use of information and communications technologies, transit-specific technology, and manager characteristics. This data was joined with financial and operating statistics from the Rural National Transit Database.

The survey asked questions about managers' familiarity with and agency use of various technologies, the cost of completed implementations, as well as plans for future implementation.

The study modeled the impacts of agency and manager characteristics on the adoption of Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL), Computer-Aided Scheduling and Dispatch software (CASD), Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and Mobile Data Terminals (MDTs). Agency size measured by fleet size, budget, and trips delivered are significant factors that impact the adoption of technology by rural transit agencies. Manager education and experience, attendance at national conferences, interaction with technology vendors, and participating in technology training were also found to be significant.

The recently released report, Technology Adoption by Small Urban & Rural Transit Agencies, is available in electronic form on the SURTC website.

SURTC Publishes Report on Rural Intercity Transportation

With higher fuel costs and changing economic conditions, travel behavior and the level and allocation of resources in highways, rail, air, and transit service in rural areas may be changing. The objective of a recently completed SURTC study, titled Assessing Demand for Rural Intercity Transportation in a Changing Environment, was to determine the attitude of would-be passengers in their choice of mode and the factors determining their choice in rural and small urban areas.

A survey was administered to residents of North Dakota and northwest and west central Minnesota that asked respondents to identify their mode of choice in different hypothetical situations where there were five modes available: automobile, air, bus, train, and van. A model was developed and used to estimate the likelihood that an individual would choose a given mode based on the characteristics of the mode, the characteristics of the individual, and the characteristics of the trip. Results show that, to some extent, travelers, especially those of lower income, respond to higher gasoline prices by choosing alternative modes in greater numbers, suggesting rural intercity bus, van, and rail ridership would increase if gasoline prices rose.

Results also show that age, gender, income, transit experience, traveler attitudes, travel time, trip purpose, and party size affect mode choice. More specifically, the study found the following:

  • The odds of choosing air travel decreases for older individuals.
  • Men are more likely than women to choose automobile.
  • People of higher income have a greater odds of choosing automobile than those with lower income.
  • The odds of choosing air travel are greater for business travelers and those traveling alone.
  • Individuals are more likely to choose automobile if they are traveling for personal reasons rather than business.
  • People are more likely to choose alternative modes if they have used them in the past.

Lower income individuals were found to be more sensitive to changes in travel cost, suggesting that much of the demand shift to bus, train, and van under higher gasoline prices would be from those with lower incomes. The effect of fuel price on mode choice for higher income individuals was very small, even with hypothetical $6 gas. While future fuel costs will impact demand for intercity services, changing demographics may also impact demand. Our findings indicate that an aging population is more likely to choose intercity train, van, or bus service rather than air for regional travel.

The study also examined attitudes toward intercity transportation – respondents showed the most interest in timeliness, comfort, cleanliness, and predictability – and how those attitudes influence mode choice.

This study and other recently completed reports are available on the SURTC website. Questions related to the research should be directed to Jeremy Mattson (

North Dakota Regional Coordination Webpage Launched

The webpage for the North Dakota Regional Pilot Projects has been launched. The page contains background information on the projects, the times and locations of upcoming public input meetings, as well as project documents.

The North Dakota Regional Pilot Projects are exploring opportunities and alternatives for regional coordination of public transit. The south central and west central regions of the state have been selected as the regions where regional coordination will be investigated. Public input meetings will be held in July 2010 to provide the public with information on the project and to solicit input on regional transit coordination.

SURTC Events Calendar Updated

The updated Events Calendar provides a listing of national and regional conferences of interest to people in the public transportation industry for the upcoming year.

Transit Roundup

  • A new Senate climate bill was introduced on May 12 that would provide more than $6 billion per year for transportation programs.  The funding, which would be generating by selling carbon emissions permits to fuel providers, would be split three ways: a third to the federal highway trust fund for projects that decrease greenhouse gas emissions, a third for competitive federal grants similar to the Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program, and a third for local land use planning. References: Streetsblog, Reuters, NY Times.
  • The Federal Transit Administration (FTA), on May 13, issued its Supplemental Fiscal Year 2010 Apportionments and Allocations and Corrections Notice, which provides transit funding information for the remainder of the calendar year and updates apportionment tables to reflect 100 percent of the FTA's grant programs for FY10. See the FTA website for more details.
  • The FTA, on May 13, also announced the availability of $15.1 million in funding provided by the Public Transportation on Indian Reservations Program (Tribal Transit Program (TTP)). Proposals must be submitted by June 28. For more information, see NRC Capitol Clips and the May 13 edition of the Federal Register (pdf).

FTA to Award $775 million for Bus Transit Upgrades

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced the availability of $775 million of funding for transit providers to upgrade their bus systems.  The funding is being made available in support of the FTA's State of Good Repair initiative. The FTA news release states the following:

FTA will review applications for the discretionary bus and bus facility funds, and will prioritize proposals based on how they address the issue of the transit system’s state of good repair and recapitalization needs.

Eligible expenses for the funds include purchase and rehabilitation of buses and vans, modernization of buses, bus facilities and revenue service facilities, bus-related equipment and components of transit asset management plans.  Deadline for applications is June 18, 2010. Grantees are expected to be announced in late summer 2010.

Direct Recipients under the Section 5307 Urbanized Area Formula program, States, and Indian Tribes are eligible. Proposals for funding eligible projects in rural (nonurbanized) areas must be submitted as part of a consolidated State proposal, with the exception of nonurbanized projects to Indian Tribes.

For more details, including instructions for application, see the notice in the May 4 edition of the Federal Register.

SURTC Releases Spring 2010 Newsletter

The Spring 2010 SURTC Newsletter is now available on the SURTC website. The newsletter features articles on SURTC's advisory board meeting and the national summit on workforce development hosted by SURTC, as well as completed and ongoing research, training, and education activities. The current and previous issues can be downloaded from the SURTC website.

Dr. Hough to Present Seminar on Ethics in Transportation

Often we are faced with ethical decisions at work and in our personal lives. SURTC Director Jill Hough will present a seminar discussing ethics and how it applies to the field of transportation. Further, in this seminar, some fundamental approaches to consider when identifying and making ethical decisions will be presented.

The presentation, part of the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute’s Transportation Seminar Series, will be held Thursday, April 29th, at 1 pm in IACC 422.

Ripplinger Discusses Demographics, Transit, and Livability at DTA Coordination Summit

David Ripplinger, associate research fellow at the Small Urban and Rural Center, presented population projections and discussed their impacts on transit in the Dakota's as part of the Dakota Transit Association's 2nd Annual Transportation Coordination Summit. The presentation, Changing Demographics: Implications for Transit, also discussed the relationship between transit, livability, and demographics as motivated by data from the American Housing Survey.