The U.S. Senate passed its version of the FY 2010 Transportation-HUD appropriations today. The legislation permits $122 billion in spending for fiscal year 2010, which the AP reports is a 12% increase over current levels. The NRC reports that this includes $42.5 billion for the Federal Highway Administration, $18.1 billion for Section 8 tenant-based vouchers, $11.1 billion for the Federal Transit Administration, and $15.6 billion for the Federal Aviation Administration.
The Senate bill is similar to the version the House passed in July. The NRC detailed the funding levels within the federal transit program in the House bill.
The AARP’s North Dakota State Office conducted a survey last fall of its members to explore their views on important topics such as health care, economic security, and transportation. They released a report in February summarizing the findings. SURTC collaborated with AARP in formulating the transportation questions and has conducted a more in depth analysis of this section of the survey. SURTC’s findings will be published later this fall.
One of the major findings is that people with disabilities have greater transportation concerns. Seventeen percent of the 1,042 respondents age 50 or older identified themselves as having a disability. These people were less likely to think that they have adequate transportation options and were substantially more likely to report problems using public transportation. Many of these people with disabilities do currently drive, but they are more likely to forego driving during certain conditions such as poor weather or darkness, and they are more likely than others to desire more trips, with transportation more often being a limiting factor.
These results tie into a recently launched SURTC study titled Assessing Existing and Needed Community Transportation for People with Disabilities in North Dakota, which will include a survey of people with disabilities in the state. Using information obtained from this study, state, regional, county and local public and private transportation and human service agencies will be able to assess their existing transportation services, identify gaps and needs, and plan improvements. One of the goals of the study is to create a survey instrument that could be used by communities and states beyond North Dakota for collecting similar information.
The Dakota Transit Association is holding its 25th Anniversary Fall Conference and Bus Roadeo Sept. 19-23 in Fargo, ND. SURTC staff will be on hand Sept. 20 and 21 to discuss the launching of our blog.
Minnesota Public Radio reporter Dan Olson recently chronicled the struggles being faced by rural transit providers. The story is specific to Minnesota, but likely familiar to others across the country. He reports that demand for service has been increasing due to an aging population and an increase in the number of people unable to afford a personal vehicle. At the same time, however, funding for rural transit services is down. He writes:
No shortage of demand but a definite shortage of money. Already Mn/DOT has cut $400,000 to rural transit providers. Another cut of a million and half dollars is on the horizon.
The cuts take a toll on public transit providers and also some private nonprofits who get state transportation grants.
As SURTC strives to improve its outreach activities and provide a greater variety of valuable and current information in an accessible format, we announce the launching of our new blog. The intent of the blog is to facilitate the dissemination of information and dialogue on small urban and rural transit topics.
The blog will keep readers up-to-date on the training and research being conducted by SURTC staff. In addition, the blog endeavors to be a valuable resource for news and information pertaining to the world of small urban and rural transit. Expect to see posts about upcoming training, SURTC events, completed or ongoing research projects, industry news of significant events that impact small urban and rural transit, and anything else we would like to share with you.