The Spring 2013 issue of the Transit Lane Brief has been published and is available online. This issue features articles on recently completed research studies regarding transit and community livability, use of effortless passenger identification systems, and use of technologies for improving public participation, as well as an update on training activities and personnel changes. The current and previous issues can be downloaded from the SURTC website.
SURTC director Jill Hough was recently featured in Progressive Railroading. She discussed her work as chair of the National Transit Curriculum Advisory Committee, a group that has been developing a standard curriculum for a semester-long college course on public transportation that could be offered by universities nationwide. Read the article here: Curriculum aims to get college students thinking about careers in public transportation
Public participation in the transit planning process is vital to ensure that transit services meet the needs of the public and provide the greatest benefit possible. However, the public is not always engaged in the planning process, and certain segments of the population may be underrepresented. The emergence of new technologies, including smartphones, webcasts, online surveys, and social media, provides promise for engaging the public and removing barriers to participation.
A study conducted by SURTC investigated the impacts of technology in improving public participation. The project consisted of four major activities: onboard surveys using electronic mobile devices, online surveys, webcasts, and social media. The use of each of these tools was tested to determine their impacts on increasing public participation.
The study found that transit agencies can use online surveys and mobile devices for intercept surveys as complements to traditional surveys to reduce data entry costs, improve data quality, and increase participation, though there are limits to their effectiveness. Transportation planners found webcast recordings to be very useful for providing information to the public. The use of social media as a means for transit agencies and transportation planners to engage the public and disseminate information will continue to grow.
This research was sponsored by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and conducted by Jeremy Mattson (firstname.lastname@example.org), Del Peterson (email@example.com), and David Ripplinger. The full report will be posted on the FTA website and listed on the SURTC website when it is available. Contact Jeremy Mattson or Del Peterson for more information.
SURTC has published a new report that attempts to empirically measure livability. The study, conducted by David Ripplinger, Elvis Ndembe, and Jill Hough, assembled information that provides a more complete picture of transit and livability in the United States. Transit livability statistics were calculated to provide an improved understanding of the availability, accessibility, desirability, and use of public transportation in the United States. A Community Livability Index was developed to serve as a measure of the relative level of livability across regions, community types, and time. This information is intended to assist policy makers and researchers better understand and evaluate the high-level impacts of federal livability policies. The report can be viewed and downloaded at the following link: 2011 Transit and Community Livability Report.
A profile of Jill Hough, SURTC director, is featured in the February 8 issue of the American Public Transportation Association’s newsletter, Passenger Transport, and on its website. Click on the following links to read the profile and watch a video of Jill discussing SURTC.
SURTC has developed a mentorship program to introduce students to industry experts. This program provides a structure for students to engage with industry experts, allowing students to better understand the field of public transportation. The program has been piloted in 2011 and 2012 and is currently being piloted again in 2013.
Dr. Jill Hough, SURTC director and instructor for NDSU’s graduate-level public transportation course, wrote a working document highlighting the value of a mentorship program for attracting students to transportation careers, addressing reasons to develop a mentorship program, and detailing the process, assignments, and evaluations of the pilot program at NDSU.
This document is available in the Education section of SURTC’s website and can be downloaded directly at the following link:
If you have questions about the mentorship program, please contact Jill Hough at firstname.lastname@example.org
Watch a Highlight Video of the 2012 APTA Public Transportation & Universities Conference Held in Fargo
MATBUS has posted a highlight video of the 2012 APTA Public Transportation & Universities Conference in Fargo, ND. The conference was hosted by MATBUS, SURTC, and NDSU and was the first APTA conference ever held in North Dakota. Watch the video below.
You can also find this and other MATBUS videos on their YouTube page.
A new report published by SURTC details efforts to facilitate further regional transit coordination in North Dakota. The study, titled, Implementing Transit Coordination in North Dakota Pilot Regions, was commissioned by the ND Department of Transportation as a result of legislative action mandating coordination pilot projects in two regions.
NDDOT previously contracted with SURTC to study various coordination options and to develop corresponding recommendations. The resulting report was completed in December 2010. NDDOT then executed a second contract with SURTC to pursue implementation of recommendations contained in the prior report. The project’s work plan included 17 tasks that focused on increased local input regarding existing and evolving mobility needs, increased coordination among the regions’ operators, more uniform operating standards and policies, and short- and long-term budgets for continued and expanded coordination.
This report summarizes implementation efforts underway by NDDOT, including contracts with outside agencies that resulted in the hiring of a regional coordinator for each of the pilot regions. The report presented related budgets and corresponding funding options for a three-year period. Funding options included the use of Job Access Reverse Commute and New Freedom funding and the use of non-urbanized Section 5311 administrative funds.
With regard to statewide implementation, phased statewide coverage could be attained in 3-5 years and might include one coordinator for the Fargo-Moorhead urban area and up to four coordinators for the remainder of the state. The eventual number of coordinators would be determined based on workloads identified during the implementation process. North Dakota currently has four coordinators – one in the Fargo-Moorhead urban area, one in the northeast region of the state, and one in each of the two pilot regions.
Also as part of the project, SURTC created websites for local operators, upgraded the transit portion of NDDOT’s website, developed uniform policies, engaged in efforts to standardized fares, and analyzed rural routes in an attempt to reduce duplication and increase mobility options.
The study was conducted by Jon Mielke, Keven Anderson, and Carol Wright. For more details, contact Jon Mielke at email@example.com. The full report and the previous study are available at the following links:
New resources have been added to the SURTC website to assist transit agencies in developing policies and procedures. SURTC collected a number of sample policies, procedures, and report forms from different organizations and posted them online so they can be viewed, downloaded, and adopted by transit agencies.
Included are good examples of advisory board by-laws, driver handbooks, no-show policies, riders’ guides, vehicle maintenance programs, accident report forms, guidelines on local planning and coordination, and many others. As with all samples, these should be reviewed by your board of directors and legal counsel if you wish to adopt them.