Small Urban and Rural Center on Mobility

Posts tagged as "mobility"

Research Report – Cost-Benefit Analysis of Rural and Small Urban Transit

SURTC has published a report analyzing the costs and benefits of providing transit services in rural and small urban areas. The full report and an executive summary can be found at the following link:

Cost-Benefit Analysis of Rural and Small Urban Transit

This study focuses on the qualitative and quantitative benefits of small urban and rural public transit systems in the United States. First, a thorough review of previous literature is presented. Then, a framework is developed which focuses on three main areas of transit benefits most relevant to rural and small urban areas: transportation cost savings, low-cost mobility benefits, and economic development impacts. This study estimates the cost savings from using transit in place of alternative modes and the significant costs that would result from trips foregone in the absence of transit. Estimated benefits are compared to the costs of providing service to derive benefit-to-cost ratios. Results are presented nationally, regionally (FTA regions), and statewide. Sensitivity analysis is also conducted to illustrate how the benefits and benefit-cost ratios vary with changes in key variables. With estimated benefit-cost ratios greater than 1, the results show that the benefits provided by transit services in rural and small urban areas are greater than the costs of providing those services.

For more details, contact Ranjit Godavarthy at or Jeremy Mattson at

Upcoming Webcast: Veteran Mobility in Small Urban and Rural Areas

SURTC researcher Del Peterson will be presenting results from his veteran mobility research as part of the Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR) webcast series. The webcast, titled "Veteran Mobility in Small Urban and Rural Areas," will be presented July 10 at 11:00 am central time.

The objective of this study was to identify veterans with mobility needs currently living in rural Minnesota, Montana, and North Dakota, and to quantify the cost of feasible transportation options for meeting veteran mobility needs. Special attention was given to the medical transportation of veterans to VA health care centers. This study included a survey of veterans and a simulation of their health care transportation costs.

Research Report – Travel Behavior and Mobility of Transportation-Disadvantaged Populations: Evidence from the National Household Travel Survey

A new report published by SURTC examines travel behavior and mobility of older adults, people with disabilities, individuals from low-income households, and rural residents by analyzing data from the National Household Travel Survey (NHTS). NHTS is a nation-wide survey last conducted in 2009.

The study, conducted by researcher Jeremy Mattson, highlights 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. Changes over the last decade were also examined to identify trends in travel behavior.

Findings show how use of transit increases the number of trips taken and provides rides to individuals who would otherwise not make the trip. The study also shows the differences in mobility between different population groups. Half of those 85 or older were found to have a disability or medical condition affecting their ability to travel, and for many of them, it results in reduced day-to-day travel. A strong desire to get out more often was found by those not making a trip within the last week, which shows the importance of mobility on quality of life. People with disabilities or medical conditions were shown to make significantly fewer trips than others, while expressing a desire to get out more often.

Trends from 2001 to 2009 show increased use of transit. Older women are driving more and making more trips than they were a decade ago, slowly closing the gap between older men and women. These trends may continue as the active baby boom generation retires and expects to maintain their mobility.

For more information about the study, contact Jeremy Mattson at The full report can be downloaded at the following link: Travel Behavior and Mobility of Transportation-Disadvantaged Populations: Evidence from the National Household Travel Survey.

Mattson had previously presented findings from this study at the International Conference on Aging, Mobility and Quality of Life. That presentation is also available on the SURTC website.


New Project to Study Veteran Mobility in Small Urban and Rural Areas

A new SURTC research project will study the mobility needs of veterans living in rural North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana and investigate the most feasible transportation options to meet their needs.

The need for veteran transportation is growing rapidly, especially in rural areas where 40 percent of veterans live. Many rural area veterans must travel long distances to receive medical care, and many wounded veterans require assistance to access jobs and engage in other essential activities.

SURTC researcher Del Peterson is the lead investigator for this project. Peterson will be recruiting veterans and transportation providers to participate in surveys and focus group meetings to learn more about veteran mobility services and gaps that exist. Peterson will also quantify the cost of providing different transportation options in relation to meeting the needs of veterans. Results will allow policy makers to make better informed decisions regarding veteran mobility issues in rural and small urban settings.

For more details about the project, contact Del Peterson at

SURTC Publishes Findings from Survey of People with Disabilities

Mobility is fundamental for people to live full and satisfying lives in their communities. For adults with disabilities, access to community transportation is often limited. To address issues of mobility for people with disabilities in North Dakota, SURTC recently completed a study titled "Assessing Existing and Needed Community Transportation for People with Disabilities in North Dakota." This study developed and administered a survey to a sample of people with disabilities in the state. The survey instrument was developed in such a way that it could be used by communities and states beyond North Dakota for collecting similar information and could be used over time to assess progress in providing transportation for adults with disabilities.

Responses were received from 131 people in the state, including those with physical, sensory, cognitive, and emotional disabilities. A large percentage of the respondents were transit-dependent or dependent on others for rides. The survey collected information from individuals regarding their travel behavior, ability to make needed or desired trips, use of community transportation options (public transit, human service agencies, other), unmet needs, and difficulties encountered.

The results indicated that a significant percentage of respondents desire more trips than they are currently taking, and lack of transportation appears to be the main limiting factor. Unmet demand was greatest for leisure, recreation, and social trips, as about two-thirds of respondents said they desired more of these types of trips. The survey also revealed significant dissatisfaction with available transportation options, both in the community and for long-distance trips. The most significant concerns with public transportation regarded service availability. Other service factors that respondents were dissatisfied with include waiting time, scheduling procedures, and ride reservation time. Respondents were most satisfied with being safe from both crime and accidents and were generally satisfied with drivers, vehicle comfort, and access to information.

The study also examined how often individuals make trips, specific problems they have with using fixed-route or paratransit service, use of travel training, and use or door-to-door or door-through-door service, and it compares results from a similar survey conducted nearly a decade ago.

Questions related to the research should be directed to Jeremy Mattson (

SURTC Publishes Report on Aging and Mobility

Mobility is fundamentally important for people to live full and satisfying lives. As people age, however, their mobility may decline. To investigate issues of aging and mobility and other concerns of older adults, the AARP conducted a survey of its North Dakota members. The SURTC report analyzes the results from the transportation section of the AARP survey. Specific objectives were to determine how informed and satisfied older adults are with their transportation options, how often they make different types of trips, if they desire more trips, if lack of transportation limits the trips they make, what improvements they would like to see made for them to stay in their neighborhood as they age, and what problems they encounter with using public transportation.

The report, titled North Dakota Transportation Survey: Aging and Mobility, shows that most AARP members in North Dakota continue to drive, and they are more satisfied than dissatisfied with their transportation options. Although many still drive, transit is found to be very valuable for certain segments of the population and for certain trips, and an analysis of the data using logit modeling shows that for all types of trips, transportation is more likely to be a limiting factor as age increases. Also significant is the impact that disabilities have on the ability to make trips.

Questions related to the research should be directed to Jeremy Mattson, who can be reached by email at

SURTC Conducting Transportation Surveys of Older Adults and People with Disabilities

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.