Small Urban and Rural Center on Mobility

Posts for "2010"

SURTC to Participate in Transportation Coordination Summit

David Ripplinger, associate research fellow at the Small Urban & Rural Transit Center, will be speaking on the relationship between demographics and transit at the Dakota Transit Association's 2nd Annual Transportation Coordination Summit on April 21st.  The presentation will cover recent demographic changes in North and South Dakota, the dynamics of population change and its impact on transit, as well as transit's impact on livability.

Rural Transit Technology Course to be Held in Alaska and Virginia

The Small Urban & Rural Transit Center in partnership with the National Transit Institute is presenting the course Implementing Rural Transit Technology May 10-11 in Anchorage, AK, and June 9-10 in Charlottesville, VA.

The course presents a structured approach for planning, implementing, and evaluating rural transit projects to help ensure that agency needs and expectations are met.

FTA Announces Funding for Sustainability Projects

The Federal Transit administration (FTA) announced the availability of funds for a new round of the Transit Investments for Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction (TIGGER) program and the Clean Fuels Grant program, augmented with Section 5309 Bus and Bus Facilities program funds.

Applications should address the policy priorities of the FTA's sustainability program: breaking dependence on oil, producing more energy at home, and promoting energy efficiency.

According to the announcement in the Federal Register, there are two eligible purposes for TIGGER grants: (1) For capital investments that will assist in reducing the energy consumption of a transit system; or (2) for capital investments that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions of a public transportation system. Only public transportation agencies or state DOTs may apply for TIGGER grants. A total of $75 million is available for these grants.

The purpose of the Clean Fuels Grant program is to assist nonattainment and maintenance areas in achieving or maintaining the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone and CO and to support emerging clean fuel and advanced propulsion technologies for transit buses.

Complete proposals for Clean Fuels/Bus and Bus Facilities discretionary grants must be submitted by June 14, 2010. TIGGER program proposals must be submitted by August 11, 2010.

More information can be found from the FTA website and the April 13 edition of the Federal Register.

Transit Roundup

  • APTA yesterday released a report on the impact of the recession on public transportation agencies. The report details the findings from a survey of transit providers regarding changes in revenue, budget shortfalls, changes in service levels and fares, and cuts in staff.
  • The Natural Resources Defense Council recently released a report showing that rural states are hurt the most when gas prices increase. This relates to a more detailed SURTC study completed in 2008 that used county-level data to show how rural areas, and Indian Reservations in particular, are impacted more by higher gas costs.
  • The Transportation Department announced this week a proposal to ban text messaging at the wheel by interstate truck and bus drivers. The proposal would make permanent an interim ban announced in January.
  • Sioux City Transit is encouraging citizens to send in their census, saying it will have a big impact on their budget.

SURTC Updates Events Calendar

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.

Senate Passes Jobs Bill, Extends Transportation Authorization Law

The U.S. Senate today passed the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act (HIRE), a $17.6 billion bill that includes tax incentives aimed at encouraging businesses to hire new workers. It also keeps federal highway and transit programs operating through 2010 by extending the current transportation authorization law (SAFETEA-LU) until the end of the calendar year, and it provides $19.5 billion to the Highway Trust Fund to keep it solvent through the end of the year. AASHTO provides a summary of the transportation provisions in the bill here.

Ride or Relocate

The American population continues to mature with an impending ‘aging tsunami’ just a few years away.  Public transportation provides freedom to much of the aging population who would otherwise be forced to give up their lifestyles.

The objective of this research was to quantify the cost of living at home and riding transit in North Dakota versus relocating to an assisted living facility. Special attention was paid to three different living situations including homeowners with and without mortgages as well as apartment dwellers.

Overall, simulation results indicated that the cost of assisted living was almost always higher than the other three alternatives. Homeowners without mortgages had the lowest costs followed by apartment dwellers and homeowners with mortgages. Finally, every senior’s situation is unique and other factors such as amenities and safety may be more important than cost in considering quality of life and peace of mind for them and their families.

View the full report

Rural Transit Technology Course to be Held in Alaska and Virginia

Implementing Rural Transit Technology, a joint course of the Small Urban and Rural Transit Center and the National Transit Institute (NTI), will be held May 10-11 in Anchorage, Alaska, and June 9-10 in Charlottesville, Virginia. 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.

More information on the course and online registration is available on the NTI website.

APTA Releases 2009 Ridership Data: Ridership Down Overall but Mostly Unchanged in Rural Areas

Total U.S. transit ridership decreased by 3.8% from 2008 levels according to the Fourth Quarter Public Transportation Ridership Report recently released by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).  APTA attributes the decline in ridership to high unemployment, economic recession, and lower gas prices, as well as bus and rail service cutbacks resulting from lower state and local funding.

Despite the decline, ridership has still been growing faster than population over the past decade.  The 2008 ridership level was the highest in 52 years, and some decrease would be expected given the higher rates of unemployment and lower gas prices. Higher rates of unemployment mean that fewer people are traveling to work, and lower gas prices make automobile travel less expensive. The national unemployment rate increased from 5.8% in 2008 to 9.3% in 2009. Meanwhile, the U.S. average gasoline price decreased from $3.25 per gallon in 2008 to $2.35 per gallon in 2009. Research has shown that these factors do affect transit ridership. According to estimates obtained from a previous SURTC study, changes in unemployment rates and gas prices of these magnitudes could be expected to decrease ridership by as much as 10%, so a 3.8% drop is fairly modest. Ridership was down by less than 1% in 2009 compared to 2007 levels.

Further, while there was an overall decrease, the number of riders in rural and small urban areas was fairly constant, and ridership increased for demand response service.  Bus ridership declined by just a half percent in 2009 in areas with a population below 100,000 (and was actually up 1.5% in the fourth quarter), and demand response ridership rose 2.7%.

Seminar on North Dakota's Changing Demographics: Implications for Transportation

Dr. Richard Rathge, Director of the State Data Center at North Dakota State University and North Dakota's State Demographer for the past 28 years, will be giving a presentation on the relationship between demographics and transportation.

The presentation will explore the changing dynamics of North Dakota’s population and the influence that residential shifts have and will have on transportation within the state. The presentation is organized into three main sections. First, a historical perspective is offered of population change within the state. This overview is placed within a regional and national context. Second, the main drivers of population dynamics within the state are discussed. Examples are offered that demonstrate how these drivers have shaped the residential context of the state. Moreover, attention is given to how these drivers will influence the future population profile of the state. Finally, the interface between population and transportation is examined. Particular attention is given to residential commuting patterns and means of transportation to work.

The presentation, part of the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute’s Transportation Seminar Series, will be held Thursday, March 11th, at 1 pm in IACC 422.