Webinar: Exploring Transit's Contribution to Livability in Rural Communities

SURTC researchers Ranjit Godavarthy and Jeremy Mattson will join researcher Jonathan Brooks from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute to present a webinar on transit's contribution to livability in rural communities. The webinar, which is part of the Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR) webcast series, will be October 27 at 11:00 am central time.

Presenters will discuss an ongoing research study for the U.S. Department of Transportation about rural community livability and the role of public transportation. The definition of livability varies from community to community. Public transit may contribute to livability in one or more ways. The presenters will share a recently developed methodology to define livability locally and identify the potential transit markets specific to a community. The methodology was developed and tested in communities across the country. Results will be presented from cases studies conducted in small communities in the following states: Texas, Maine, Missouri, Oregon, and North Dakota. Click on the links below for more information and to view the webinar.

Upcoming CUTR Webcast: Exploring Transit’s Contribution to Livability in Rural Communities

Link for viewing the webinar

SURTC Participating at National Conference on Rural Public and Intercity Bus Transportation

SURTC staff will be attending and participating in next week's National Conference on Rural Public and Intercity Bus Transportation in Asheville, North Carolina. SURTC researchers Del Peterson and Jeremy Mattson and training coordinator Rob Lynch will each be giving presentations. Rob Lynch will also be manning SURTC's booth at the vendor show. Del Peterson served on the conference's planning committee and will also be awarding the winners of the student paper competition. If you are attending the conference, be sure to stop by our booth and say hello or attend our sessions. Below is list of sessions in which SURTC staff are participating.

Del Peterson – Session title: Hiring and Retaining Qualified Personnel: Challenges and Strategies; Presentation title: Workforce Development and Succession Planning to Prepare the Rural Transit Industry for the Future; Monday October 3, 9:45 AM

Rob Lynch – Session title: Working Effectively with Public Officials Through Good Communication and Good Data; Presentation title: Making the Case: Working with Elected and Appointed Officials; Tuesday October 4, 8:00 AM

Jeremy Mattson – Session title: Recent Developments in Planning Rural Intercity Bus Services; Presentation title: Estimating Demand for Rural Intercity Bus Services; Tuesday October 4, 4:15 PM

Research Report – Estimating Ridership of Rural Demand-Response Transit Services for the General Public

A new SURTC study developed two new models for estimating demand for rural demand-response transit services for the general public. Lack of data for demand-response service characteristics and geographic coverage has previously limited the development of such models. The first model developed in this study used data from the 2013 rural National Transit Database, and the second used more detailed service data collected from surveys of transit agencies. Ridership was found to significantly increase when the percentage of the population comprised of older adults or people without access to a vehicle increased. The second model analyzed the impacts of service span and reservation requirements on ridership. Results showed that providing more days of service had an expected positive impact on ridership, while allowing users to reserve rides on shorter notice also had a significant positive effect. Click on the link below to see the full report or a summary of the study:

Estimating Ridership of Rural Demand-Response Transit Services for the General Public

For more information, contact Jeremy Mattson at jeremy.w.mattson@ndsu.edu.

Research Report – Workforce Development and Succession Planning to Prepare the Rural Transit Industry for the Future

SURTC has published a study that addresses the perceived workforce development and succession planning difficulties in the rural public transit industry. Researcher Del Peterson conducted a national survey of rural transit managers to determine current workforce development practices as well as succession planning procedures. Responses were received from 160 agencies in 40 states. The report summarizes the findings and provides recommendations. The majority of transit agency managers responding to the survey have been employed by their agency for more than 15 years while 75% of total respondents were 50 years of age or older. One-third of respondents indicated they plan to retire within the next 5 years while only 15% have any viable succession plan in place to combat this high management turnover. The full report and summary can be found at the link below:

Workforce Development and Succession Planning to Prepare the Rural Transit Industry for the Future

For more details contact Del Peterson at del.peterson@ndsu.edu.

Upcoming Course: Implementing Rural Transit Technology

The National Transit Institute (NTI) and SURTC are conducting a two-day course on implementing rural transit technology, October 25-26 in Fargo, ND. The course presents a structured approach for planning, implementing, and evaluating rural transit projects to help ensure that agency needs and expectations are met. Click below for more information or to register:

Implementing Rural Transit Technology – October 25-26, Fargo, ND

Informational Flyer (pdf)

Participate in FTA's National Online Dialogue to Develop 5-Year Research Strategic Plan

On behalf of FTA's Office of Research, Demonstration and Innovation, SURTC is notifying you about an opportunity to provide input on FTA's research strategic plan. See the message from FTA below about their strategic plan, online dialogue, and upcoming informational webinar.

FTA's Associate Administrator for Research, Demonstration and Innovation, Vince Valdes, invites you to participate in FTA's National Online Dialogue to develop our 5-Year Research Strategic Plan

What new transit innovations should FTA research and deploy in the next five years? FTA is taking a fresh look at its research program priorities through the lens of a five-year strategic plan. The plan will guide how FTA positions itself to be forward-thinking in how we develop new tools and technologies to advance access and mobility for all.

We want to hear from you! FTA has launched an online dialogue to inform the agency's Research Strategic Plan. We welcome any and all ideas through the duration of the dialogue, which closes September 8.

The Research Strategic Plan will set the stage for what types of research FTA should support and highlight pathways for translating proven research solutions into new and better ways of doing business. For example, years of investment in the National Fuel Cell Bus Program led to several rounds of low or no-emission bus technology deployment and in 2016, the agency established an annual grants program with dedicated funding for new technology buses. As FTA drafts its 5-year research strategic plan, we invite you to participate and lend your ideas to inform FTA's research priorities.

Visit our online dialogue to post an idea; review, comment, and vote on others' input; and provide specific feedback to the questions posed below:


  1. What key social, demographic, economic, technological, and/or other trends impact public transportation today and into the future?
  2. FTA's current research priorities are mobility, asset management and asset innovation, and safety.  Should we maintain these priorities or should they be changed?  If they should be changed, please suggest the priority research areas you recommend.
  3. What specific areas within mobility, asset management and asset innovation, and safety should be the focus of FTA research?
  4. Similarly, what major goal should the FTA research program pursue to support transit's mission?
  5. What should FTA's major goals be for research to support FTA's mission? And what performance measure metrics should FTA use to track progress in meeting them?
  6. How should FTA drive research to practice to publicize useful research results?
  7. Is there anything else you want to share or say regarding FTA's research portfolio and activities?

For more information on how you can contribute to the Research Strategic Plan online dialogue, join us for an informational webinar at 3:30 p.m. EDT on Thursday, August 11.

Send questions to FTAResearch@dot.gov.


FTA FY15 Research Report

FAST Act Research Program Fact Sheet

FTA's Research and Innovation Program

The Coming Retirement Tsunami: Why Transit Agencies and the Public Sector Can No Longer Ignore Succession Planning

Join us for this informative workshop June 9th from 10:00 AM to Noon CT. Patrick Ibarra of the Mejorando Group and Del Peterson of the Small Urban and Rural Transit Center (SURTC) will be presenting.

Your public sector agency's future depends on its ability to identify, retain and prepare future leaders. Beyond simply replacing positions that become vacant, effective succession planning is an ongoing process of identifying, assessing and developing talent to ensure leadership, management and supervisory continuity throughout an organization and, moreover, to sustain its performance.

For more information or to register, view the workshop flyer.

Rural Transit Agencies: Apply Now for 2016 FTA Administrator's Awards

The FTA is seeking nominations for the 2016 FTA Administrator's Award for Outstanding Public Service for rural transit agencies. Any rural transit agency receiving assistance under Section 5311 may be nominated. Transit providers will be judged on their success in improving the mobility of Americans in rural areas and providing better access to jobs, health care, and other community services. Nominations must address how transit systems create connections for riders, particularly in low-income communities, as well as veterans, seniors, youths, and disadvantaged populations. Nominations are due May 15.

The awards will be presented at the 22nd National Rural Public and Intercity Bus Transportation conference in Asheville, N.C., October 2-5, 2016. Award recipients will be expected to attend the conference, where they will be honored and will have an opportunity to share the secrets of their success with other conference attendees.


2016 Administrator’s Award for Outstanding Public Service
FTA Formula Grants for Rural Areas


SURTC researchers will be participating in next week's Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting. Ranjit Godavarthy will be giving a presentation titled "Developing a Method for Assessing National Demand-Response Transit Level of Service." His presentation is part of a session Monday morning, 8:00 am – 9:45 am, titled "Paratransit, Demand-Responsive, Dial-a-Ride: A New Future." Jeremy Mattson will be participating in a poster session Tuesday afternoon, 2:00 pm – 3:45 pm, titled "Public Transportation Policy: Governance, Priority-Setting, and Perspectives." The title of his poster is "Method for Estimating Statewide Transit Needs and Investment Priorities in Rural and Small Urban Areas."

These presentations are based on the following research published by SURTC in 2015.

Identifying and Satisfying the Mobility Needs of North Dakota's Transit System

Developing a Method for Assessing National Demand-Response Transit Level of Service

Research Report – Developing a Method for Assessing National Demand-Response Transit Level of Service

A new SURTC study has developed a method for assessing the level of demand-response transit being provided throughout a state or nationwide and prioritizing areas for needed service improvements.

Demand-response transit is a major source of mobility for older adults, people with disabilities, and low-income households in urban and rural areas, but the data needed to assess the level of service being provided across the country is lacking. Key variables for identifying the level of service include geographic coverage, days of service per week, hours of service per day, advance reservation requirements, and service eligibility. These data are largely missing from the National Transit Database or other sources.

Given that currently available data sources are inadequate, SURTC researchers developed and conducted online surveys of demand-response transit agencies in North Dakota and Florida to gather service details. The goal was to collect as much useful and detailed data as possible while minimizing the burden to transit agencies. Based on the results from these surveys, recommendations were made for deploying the survey nationwide. SURTC researchers also developed a method for combining the service data collected from the survey with population and demographic data to identify areas with greater needs for service improvements. The report shows how the data collected from this new survey tool can help state DOTs and transit planners evaluate current service levels and make investment decisions.

The full report and executive summary can be found at the link below:

Developing a Method for Assessing National Demand-Response Transit Level of Service

For more details, contact Ranjit Godavarthy at ranjitprasad.godavar@ndsu.edu or Jeremy Mattson at jeremy.w.mattson@ndsu.edu.

SURTC is a part of the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute at North Dakota State University