Small Urban and Rural Center on Mobility

Posts for "2012"

Report Published: North Dakota State University Student Transit Survey, 2010-2011

A new report published by SURTC details the findings from surveys conducted of North Dakota State University (NDSU) students during the fall and spring semesters of 2010-2011. Students were surveyed regarding their travel behavior and experience with Metro Area Transit (MATBUS).

An onboard survey of MATBUS riders on two NDSU campus routes was conducted in late 2010, and an online survey of NDSU students was conducted in the spring of 2011. The onboard survey was conducted both by paper and with the use of smartphones. Responses were received from 120 individuals, mostly NDSU students, for the onboard survey, while the online survey received 858 responses, including responses from both transit users and non-users.

The surveys collected information on student access to vehicles, transportation modes used to travel to campus, factors influencing mode choice, use of transit services, opinions on MATBUS service, thoughts on how to improve service, opinions on marketing efforts and preferred methods of accessing information, interest in wireless Internet access onboard, willingness to pay for transit services, and issues concerning parking.

The publication can be downloaded at the following link: North Dakota State University Student Transit Survey, 2010-2011. Questions related to the research should be directed to Jeremy Mattson (

Report Published: Organizing Transit in Small Urban and Rural Communities

A new SURTC study conducted by David Ripplinger provides information and a decision-making framework for designing and administering rural transit policies given limited public resources. Using data from transit agencies in rural North Dakota, Ripplinger estimated the benefits of different service alternatives, evaluated the justification of government subsidy of rural transit on the basis of its cost structure, and investigated the most efficient regional organization of transit.

The study investigated whether it would be more cost efficient for a single existing agency to expand service and provide both fixed-route and demand-response service or if it would be more efficient to have multiple operators in an area providing service. If service is to be increased within the service area of an existing transit agency, the study found it is more efficient for the existing agency to provide that service than to create a new agency to do so. If new service is to be added outside the service area of an existing agency, the more efficient option is influenced by the size of the existing agency. It was found to be more efficient for small transit operators to increase service into a new area than for a second agency to do so, but for larger regional systems, the study found it may be more efficient for a second agency to provide the new service. The study also found it is more efficient for small transit systems to provide both fixed-route and demand-response service than to have two different agencies specializing in each. However, for larger regional systems, the results differ, and it may be more efficient to have providers specialize in one mode. In many cases, a single transit agency operating as a monopoly was found to provide service at a lower cost than two transit agencies would, but this was not always the case.

The findings and implications are directly applicable to rural transit in North Dakota and should be helpful in informing future federal policy as well as rural transit policy, service design, and operation in other states.

The publication can be downloaded at the following link: Organizing Transit in Small Urban and Rural Communities. The study was sponsored by the University Transportation Centers Program of the U.S. Department of Transportation. Questions related to the research should be directed to David Ripplinger, who can be reached at

SURTC Summer 2012 Newsletter

The Summer 2012 issue of the Transit Lane Brief has been published and is available online. This issue features an article on the American Public Transportation Association’s Public Transportation and Universities Conference held June 16-19 in Fargo, which was co-hosted by SURTC. The debut of SURTC's Advanced Transit Management course and the recently published 2012 editions of the Rural Transit Fact Book and SURTC Research Digest are featured as well. The current and previous issues can be downloaded from the SURTC website.

Presentation on NHTS Travel Behavior for Older Adults and People with Disabilities

A recent presentation by SURTC researcher Jeremy Mattson is available online. Mattson presented findings from a study on travel behavior and mobility of transportation-disadvantaged populations, specifically older adults and people with disabilities. The research was presented at the International Conference on Aging, Mobility and Quality of Life, hosted by the University of Michigan and Elsevier, June 24 – June 26. The study examined 2009 National Household Travel Survey (NHTS) data on driving, trip frequency, staying in the same place all day or week, miles driven per year, mode choice, use of public transportation, trip purpose, trip distance, and issues and concerns regarding transportation. Differences between 2001 and 2009 were documented to identify trends in travel behavior.

A full report based on this research will be available this Fall. The presentation can be viewed at the following link: Travel Behavior and Mobility of Older Adults: Evidence from the National Household Travel Survey.

MATBUS and NDSU to Host National Transit Conference

For the first time in their collective histories, Metro Area Transit (MATBUS) and North Dakota State University (NDSU) will host the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) 2012 Public Transportation and University Communities Conference, June 16-19. This national conference is expected to bring almost 150 attendees to Fargo.

The purpose of the conference is to study and analyze the unique needs of university communities and the populations they serve. From land use development to marketing, this conference promises to bring transit, university and student leaders to Fargo to exchange ideas and see the successful collaborations between MATBUS and North Dakota State University.

Following a competitive review process, Fargo was chosen as the host of this conference because of its strong and successful transit partnerships with NDSU. Julie Bommelman, Transit Administrator for the City of Fargo, states, “We consider it a privilege and a unique opportunity to host a conference of this caliber in Fargo. The ever-increasing importance of transit will be showcased during this APTA conference.”

The Small Urban and Rural Transit Center (SURTC) of NDSU is a conference co-host. Jill Hough, Program Director & Advanced Research Fellow for SURTC, states, “APTA is the premiere organization representing public transportation interests across the nation. SURTC has been fortunate to have a long-standing involvement with APTA and MATBUS. This conference is a wonderful opportunity to showcase MATBUS and the extraordinary relationship they have with NDSU.”

Gregg Schildberger, Transit Planner for MATBUS, states “Hosting an APTA conference is a tremendous honor for MATBUS and our entire community. We extend a warm welcome, to the Fargo-Moorhead community, to our guests from APTA and transit agencies across the United States.”

"I applaud MATBUS and NDSU for hosting the conference, which will provide a forum to share practices in planning, implementing, and operating campus transit service," says American Public Transportation President and CEO Michael Melaniphy. "College and university public transportation contributed to a tremendous surge in public transit ridership in the first quarter of this year.  I especially commend MATBUS, whose service has grown significantly, boasting over 2.1 million riders annually, making university transit a vital and integral part of the regional transit service."

MATBUS is the largest rideshare program in the area, offering 25 fixed routes in Fargo, Moorhead, West Fargo and Dilworth, in addition to MAT Paratransit door-to-door services.  In 2011, MATBUS provided a total of 2,159,697 passenger rides. The operation of MATBUS requires a $6.5 million annual investment and 104 employees, which includes administrative staff, bus operators and technicians.

2012 Rural Transit Fact Book Published

SURTC has published its 2012 Rural Transit Fact Book. This publication is intended to serve as a national resource for statistics and information on rural transit in America. Information on transit service availability and cost is necessary to efficiently and effectively meet rural community mobility needs. Financial and operating statistics can be used by agency managers, local decision makers, state directors, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), and lawmakers to assist in policy making, planning, managing operations, and evaluating performance.

This publication is an update to the Fact Book published in 2011. It includes rural demographic and travel behavior data as well as financial, operating, and fleet statistics and performance measures for agencies receiving section 5311 funding. In addition to national level data, statistics are presented by state, FTA region, tribe, and mode, as well as other agency characteristics.

The Rural Transit Fact Book uses agency level data from the Rural National Transit Database (NTD) and rural demographic and travel data from the American Community Survey and the National Household Travel Survey.

The publication can be downloaded from the SURTC website. For more information, contact Jeremy Mattson (

2012 SURTC Research Digest Published

The 2012 edition of the SURTC Research Digest has been published and is available online. The SURTC Research Digest provides a number of articles discussing recently completed research projects. The articles are highly condensed, non-technical versions of the full studies, but they provide more depth and detail than what is published in our newsletter. This edition of the SURTC Research Digest includes articles on five research projects completed in 2011. Topics covered include tribal transit funding, the cost structure of small urban transit and justifications for subsidies, impacts of the built environment on transit ridership, segmenting intercity travelers by their attitudes, and vehicle supplier attributes valued by procurement decision-makers.The intent of this publication is to make our research findings accessible to a wider audience. The publication can be downloaded from the SURTC website at the following link: 2012 SURTC Research Digest (pdf).

Attend the 2012 APTA Public Transportation & Universities Conference

Attend the 2012 Public Transportation & Universities Conference June 16-19 at the Ramada Plaza & Suites in Fargo, ND.

The conference will address the special transportation needs of university communities and offers a rare opportunity to see how a successful university-transit partnership works. Learn how this partnership has evolved to boost ridership.

The conference agenda includes sessions on:

  • Partnerships
  • Emerging technologies
  • Future university trends
  • New business models
  • Safety and security, emergency preparedness and response
  • Marketing
  • Financing
  • Case studies and more

The program also includes networking opportunities, a minor-league baseball game, a chance to explore Fargo's revitalized and hip downtown, and a private screening at the historic Fargo Theatre.

Transit Roundup

The U.S. DOT has launched a national online dialogue to highlight the local transportation needs, challenges, and opportunities facing the nation's veterans, military service members, and their families. Military families, veterans, and organizations supporting them are invited to participate in the discussion. Easter Seals Project ACTION is managing and operating the dialogue. Click here for more information.

Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) has recently covered a number of stories regarding rural transportation and transit providers in rural Minnesota. These stories and a chat session including SURTC's Keven Anderson can be found on MPR's website for the project titled Getting There.

A new TCRP Synthesis Report explores the use of social media among transit agencies and documents successful practices in the United States and Canada.

SURTC Spring 2012 Newsletter Published

The Spring 2012 issue of the Transit Lane Brief has been published and is available online. This issue features articles on a U.S. DOT grant awarded to a consortium including SURTC; NDSU's graduate-level public transportation class; tribal transit courses, a tribal transit webinar, and Limited English Proficiency (LEP) workshops conducted by SURTC; a recently completed study on alternative fuels and hybrid vehicles for small urban and rural transit agencies; and SURTC's participation at TRB and TRF. The current and previous issues can be downloaded from the SURTC website.