Small Urban and Rural Center on Mobility

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.

FTA Announces Final ARRA Grants

Funding for 191 new Recovery Act transit projects in 42 states and Puerto Rico was announced on March 5.  A total of $600 million in new funding was awarded.  In doing so, the Federal Transit Administration met its deadline of awarding 100% of its Recovery Act transit formula dollars by March 5.  Since the Recovery Act was signed in February 2009, the FTA has awarded 881 grants totaling $7.5 billion.

A complete list of the FTA Recovery Act formula grants can be found here in the ARRA Grants Digest.

SURTC at the Transportation Research Forum

Two SURTC researchers will be participating in the 51st Annual Transportation Research Forum (TRF) being held March 11-13 in Arlington, VA.

Jeremy Mattson and David Ripplinger will be presenting papers in a session on transit and paratransit services on March 13 at 8:45 am.  Mattson will present a paper titled "An Assessment of Demand for Rural Intercity Transportation Services in a Changing Environment." The paper, which is co-authored by Del Peterson, David Ripplinger, William Thomas, and Jill Hough, investigates the impacts of individual, mode, and trip characteristics on mode choice for rural intercity travel, with some attention given to the impacts of changing gasoline prices and changing demographics on mode choices.

Ripplinger will present a paper titled "Modeling Transit Technology Adoption," which identifies and examines the use of transit technologies by rural transit agencies and investigates the relationship between firm and environmental factors that impact the adoption of these technologies.

Ripplinger is also chairing a session titled "Urban Highway, Transit, and Pedestrian Design" on March 12 at 3:15 pm and a session titled "Highways: Regional Economic Impacts" on March 13 at 10:30 am.

Transportation Seminar Series: Ride or Relocate

Del Peterson, Associate Research Fellow with the Small Urban and Rural Transit Center (SURTC), will present the results of his investigation into the relative costs of different housing and transportation alternatives. The presentation, part of the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute's Transportation Seminar Series, will be held Thursday, March 4, at 1 pm in IACC 422.

Seminar on Dual Mode Vehicles in Transit

A seminar on the potential of dual mode vehicles for delivery of public transportation services in Alaska will be presented on Thursday, February 25th.  The seminar, presented by Tom Flanagan, graduate student in Transportation & Logistics, will discuss potential efficiencies and organization issues that exist with transit provided by vehicles that can operate on rail and road networks.

Information on the seminar series can be found the Transportation Seminar Series homepage.

Transportation Seminar: Regionalizing Public Transportation

A seminar on regionalizing public transportation will be held Thursday, February 4th, at 1 pm in IACC Room 422.   In this seminar, considerations for regionalizing public transportation are presented. Regional public transportation is framed as a complex system. Models of regionalization and an evaluation framework for identifying preferred regionalization alternatives are presented. Also described is the role of the economic characteristics of transit agencies on regionalization alternatives.

Information on future seminars can be at the Transportation Seminar Series homepage.

Transportation Seminar: An Assessment of Demand for Rural Intercity Transportation Services in a Changing Environment

A Transportation Seminar titled “An Assessment of Demand for Rural Intercity Transportation Services in a Changing Environment” will be held Jan. 28, 2010 at 1:00 p.m. in Room 422 of the IACC building on the North Dakota State University campus.

With higher fuel costs and changing demographics and economic conditions, travel behavior, and the level and allocation of resources in highways, rail, air, and transit service in rural areas, may be changing. SURTC researcher Jeremy Mattson will discuss the results of a study that examined the attitudes of would-be passengers in their choice of mode and the factors determining their choice in rural and small urban areas. A stated preference survey was developed and administered to residents of North Dakota and northwest and west central Minnesota, and a logit model was 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. The results can be used to show how demand for different modes will change with changes in demographics and economic conditions.

SURTC at TRB

Three members of the Small Urban and Rural Transit Center (SURTC) will be participating in the Transportation Research Board's 89th Annual Meeting January 10-14 in Washington, D.C.

Jeremy Mattson will present the paper Assessment of Demand for Rural Intercity Transportation Services in a Changing Environment as part of the Rural Transportation Research paper session hosted by the Rural Public and Intercity Bus Transportation Committee at 1:30 pm on Tuesday, January 12. The paper, which is co-authored by Del Peterson, David Ripplinger, William Thomas, and Jill Hough, investigates the impact of individual and trip characteristics on mode choice for rural intercity travel.

David Ripplinger will be presenting Classifying Rural and Small Urban Transit Agencies in the Rural Transportation Policy paper session at 3:45 pm on Tuesday, January 12. The paper presents the motivation behind, methodology, and results of classifying transit agencies that serve rural and small urban areas.

Jill Hough will be presiding over TRB's Rural Public and Intercity Bus Transportation Conference Planning Subcommittee at 7:30 pm Tuesday, January 12. The Conference is being held on October 24-27, 2010, in Burlington, Vermont.

David Ripplinger will be chairing TRB's Paratransit Research Subcommittee which is meeting at 3:45 pm Tuesday, January 12.