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.
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.
FTA Supports a New Technical Assistance Library to Assist in Interagency Transportation Coordination
Coordinating transportation services across providers, service types, and modes is compelling. Building a continuum of accessible and reliable transportation services is cost effective, addresses service gaps, and capitalizes on the services of a variety of agencies and organizations. To assist your work related to building a coordinated transportation network, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) supported a group of national technical assistance centers to convene a task force to compile resources into a searchable, 508-compliant, easy-to-use public library called the Technical Assistance Coordination Library (TACL). TACL can provide transit managers and planners with current and practical resources and strategies to facilitate transportation coordination. Please take advantage of this free resource.
The FTA-funded Technical Assistance Centers that participated in the development of TACL are:
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.
A new web application provides state of good repair information for transit agencies. Achieving and maintaining public transportation rolling stocks in a state of good repair is very crucial to provide safe and reliable services to riders. Small urban and rural transit agencies who seek federal grants must also keep their transit assets in a state of good repair. Therefore, the SURCOM team developed a web application for the state of good repair for small urban and rural transit systems. This tool will determine the current conditions of the revenue vehicles, predict when they need to be replaced, and determine the funding needed to replace them in a future year to maintain the state of good repair.
The web app and a demonstration video can be found at the link below. In the demonstration video, SURCOM researcher Dilip Mistry describes how to use this State of Good Repair web application and how it can help small urban and rural transit agencies to keep their transit revenue vehicles in a state of good repair.
For more information, contact Dilip Mistry at email@example.com.
SURCOM has published two studies on transit and COVID-19. Both projects were lead by PhD students and were based on analyses and surveys conducted in the summer and fall of 2020. The first study examined public opinion toward transit during the COVID-19 pandemic by analyzing social media posts on Twitter. Results showed how the discussion regarding public transit changed during the first several months of 2020. The study used a technique called topic modeling, and it shared lessons learned while applying this method.
The second study also examined public opinion, as well as changes in rider behavior and transit agency response. This was accomplished through two surveys. First, a survey of transit riders and the public was conducted to examine response to the pandemic. This survey was conducted largely of transit users in the Fargo-Moorhead (ND-MN) metro area but also included responses from around the country. Results showed that many had reduced or stopped their usage of transit. While respondents were generally satisfied with the response of transit agencies and felt that their health was being protected, many also gave recommendations for what transit agencies could do to increase their likelihood of using transit. Second, a survey of transit agencies was conducted to identify how they were impacted by COVID-19. This survey focused on rural and small urban systems, and most responses were from North Dakota. Results show the substantial decrease in ridership and revenue, the challenges faced by transit agencies, and the actions taken.
The two studies can be found at the links below:
A study published by SURCOM analyzes the geographic, demographic, and transit related data in tribal communities, with a focus on federally recognized tribes in the lower 48 states. The geographic and demographic characteristics of a given area directly affect transit. Tribal lands are mostly rural with low population densities. Moreover, the share of the population often described as transit dependent, which includes seniors, people with disabilities, those with low income, youth, and households without automobiles, is often higher for tribal areas. This study also explored the concept of livability and transportation’s role in improving livability. Two case studies were conducted with Standing Rock Reservation and Makah Tribe to understand the factors that residents think are important for livability, describe the quality of livability factors within these communities based on residents’ perceptions, and explore how transit and other transportation factors contribute to livability.
The objectives of this research are to study the demographics of tribal communities that relate to transportation needs, describe and evaluate existing tribal transit operations and funding, and examine the role of transit in livability and quality of life in tribal communities in the United States.
Results from the study have shown that tribal areas have a disproportionately higher percentage of some of the transit dependent population groups. Across tribal areas, 28% of the population is below the poverty level, which is twice the U.S. total of 14%. The number of tribal transit systems and level of service has increased the past two decades as federal funding has increased, though the number of agencies and ridership levels have plateaued since 2015. Results from the two tribal community case studies showed many areas in which livability could be improved, most notably affordable housing, available jobs, and quality healthcare.
The full report, executive summary, and video summary can be found at the link below:
For more details, contact Ranjit Godavarthy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 www.paavsummit.org. There is no cost to attend, but you must register to receive the link to join at:
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.
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.
Research Report – An Analysis of the Costs and Benefits of Providing Increased Mobility to Reduce Social Isolation Among America's Aging Population
A study published by SURCOM analyzes the costs and benefits of providing greater mobility to socially isolated aging Americans. The number of Americans age 65 and older is projected to nearly double from 52 million in 2018 to 95 million by 2060, and the 65-and-older age group's share of the total population will rise from 16% to 23% (US Census 2018). Also, average U.S. life expectancy increased from 68 years in 1950 to 78.6 years in 2017, in large part due to the reduction in mortality at older ages.
The objective of this research was to quantify the cost of providing greater mobility through public transportation to aging adults in small urban and rural communities to lower social isolation. This was compared with the increased medical spending due to current levels of isolation.
Results for the states studied showed that from three to 10 trips per month could be provided to an isolated individual at a lower cost than the extra medical costs due to isolation. Also, an extra 25 to approximately 80 miles of service can be provided to an isolated aging adult per month for the states studied. Finally, from two to six hours of service can be provided to an isolated aging adult per month at costs equal to or less than the monthly medical costs due to isolation.
The full report and executive summary can be found at the link below:
For more details, contact Del Peterson at Del.Peterson@ndsu.edu.