Posts categorized under "Research"

New Research Project: Measuring the Economic Benefits of Rural and Small Urban Transit Service in Greater Minnesota

SURTC is starting a new project for the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) that will measure the benefits of rural and small urban transit service throughout Minnesota. The scope of the project includes all public transportation agencies outside of the Twin Cities metro area. The study team will develop a framework and tool that can be used by transit agencies and planners for identifying and measuring the benefits of transit services. A series of case studies will be conducted across the state to measure the benefits of specific transit services. The project, which is scheduled to be completed by April 2020, will produce a detailed report as well as educational material that can be used by transit agencies, planners, and stakeholders. This research will provide the necessary information to objectively assess the benefits of public spending on rural and small urban transit services, which would give decision-makers the data needed to allocate resources to programs that would provide the greatest benefit. The research will provide information to local leaders and MnDOT about the benefits of transit in Greater Minnesota. For more information, contact Jeremy Mattson at jeremy.w.mattson@ndsu.edu.

SURTC to Study Opportunities for Shared-Use Mobility Practices in Rural Areas

A new research project funded by the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) will study opportunities for shared-used mobility practices in rural areas. Shared-use mobility refers to transportation services that are shared among users. This includes public transit and taxis, as well as emerging services such as bike-sharing, car-sharing, ride-sharing (carpooling, vanpooling), ride-sourcing (Uber, Lyft, etc.), shuttle services, and others. The research project, which is titled "Opportunities for State DOTs (and others) to Encourage Shared Use Mobility Practices in Rural Areas," will document emerging practices, study the applicability to rural areas, develop a best practices tool-kit, and provide guidance on the role that government, state DOTs, rural transit agencies, transportation planning agencies, and others will need to play to advance shared-use mobility practices in rural areas. SURTC is leading the project, in cooperation with WSP. For more details, contact Ranjit Godavarthy at ranjit.godavarthy@ndsu.edu.

2017 Rural Transit Fact Book Published

SURTC has published its 2017 edition of the Rural Transit Fact Book. This publication is intended to serve as a national resource for statistics and information on rural transit in America. The Fact Book includes rural demographic and travel behavior data as well as financial, operating, and fleet statistics and performance measures for agencies receiving section 5311 funding. In addition to national level data, statistics are presented by state, FTA region, tribe, and mode, as well as other agency characteristics.

The 2017 edition is an expanded version that includes a section on county-level demographic information, presenting county-level population data for older adults, people with disabilities, and those living below the poverty line. This edition also provides more detailed information on the geographic coverage of rural transit services across the country.

The Rural Transit Fact Book presents agency level data from the Rural National Transit Database (NTD) and rural demographic and travel data from the American Community Survey and the National Household Travel Survey.

The publication can be downloaded at the SURTC website. For more information, or if you're interested in receiving a hard copy, contact Jeremy Mattson at jeremy.w.mattson@ndsu.edu.

Research Report – Aging in Place in Small Urban and Rural Communities

A new study published by SURTC investigated the current state of aging in place in small urban and rural settings throughout the country and quantified the costs for residents to live at home and ride public transportation versus moving to an assisted living facility. Overall, simulation results showed that the cost of assisted living was almost always higher compared to other alternatives. Homeowners without mortgages had the lowest costs followed by apartment dwellers and homeowners with mortgages. Policy makers should consider the potential cost savings from aging in place found in this study. Seniors and their families can potentially save thousands of dollars annually by remaining at home and utilizing home health and public transportation services.

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

Aging in Place in Small Urban and Rural Communities

For more details, contact Del Peterson at Del.Peterson@ndsu.edu.

Research Report – Estimating Demand for Intercity Bus Services in a Rural Environment

A new report that developed a method for estimating demand for intercity bus services in rural areas has been posted to the SURTC website. The general objective of this research was to develop an intercity mode choice model that can be incorporated into a statewide travel demand model to estimate demand for rural intercity bus services. Data for the study were collected through a survey of North Dakota residents. Gender, age, income, disability, trip purpose, party size, travel time, travel cost, and access distance were all found to have significant impacts on mode choice, and traveler attitudes were also found to be important. The study demonstrated how the mode choice model can be incorporated into a statewide travel demand model, and intercity bus mode shares were estimated for origin-destination pairs within the state. Alternative scenarios were analyzed to show how mode shares would change under different conditions or service characteristics. This study was conducted in the largely rural state of North Dakota, but results could be transferable to other areas with similar geographic characteristics.

The link below provides access to the full report and executive summary, as well as a summary of the survey results:

Innovative Approach to Estimating Demand for Intercity Bus Services in a Rural Environment

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

Research Report – Evaluation Study of the Bike Share Program in Fargo, North Dakota

SURTC has published a new report that studied the bike share program in Fargo, North Dakota. Great Rides Bike Share launched in 2015 in Fargo with 11 stations and 101 bikes. This study evaluated the impacts of the program through a series of surveys and statistical analyses. Objectives were to understand user opinions, analyze demand, study impacts on student travel behavior, and analyze livability benefits. Analyses were conducted to estimate the impacts of weather and other factors on bike share use and to estimate the impacts of bike share use on bus ridership.

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

Evaluation Study of the Bike Share Program in Fargo, North Dakota

For more details, contact Ranjit Godavarthy at ranjit.godavarthy@ndsu.edu.

Research Report – Exploring Transit's Contribution to Livability in Rural Communities: Case Study of Valley City, ND, and Dickinson, ND

A new study published by SURTC investigates the nexus of transit and rural livability by conducting case studies in the North Dakota communities of Valley City and Dickinson. While many factors influence the livability of a rural community, transit is an important contributor. For each of the two North Dakota communities considered, resident surveys, local transit rider surveys, and stakeholder interviews were conducted to understand differing opinions on livability and how transit contributes to livability.

In both Valley City and Dickinson, surveys of residents showed they believe affordable housing, low crime, quality healthcare, overall cost of living, quality public schools, and available jobs are the most important factors contributing the livability of a community. While transit was not among the top factors, survey respondents expressed considerable support for providing transit services and funding it through various sources. Residents in both cities expressed the opinion that transit should be provided in their community as a transportation option for seniors, people with disabilities, those who choose not to drive, and those who cannot afford to drive. Transit riders in both cities indicated that transit is very important to their quality of life, and stakeholders from both communities said transit is a critical lifeline for people who are elderly and/or have a disability, individuals with no vehicle, and those who cannot drive.

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

Exploring Transit's Contribution to Livability in Rural Communities: Case Study of Valley City, ND, and Dickinson, ND

For more details, contact Ranjit Godavarthy at ranjit.godavarthy@ndsu.edu.

Research Report – Characterization of Transit Ride Quality

A recent SURTC study evaluates the significance of transit ride quality. This study developed a low-cost smartphone-based method and associated data transformations to characterize ride quality. The method distinguished between vibrations induced from road unevenness and operator behavior. The authors validated the accuracy of the method by conducting surveys to characterize the perceived roughness intensities from buses traveling routes of distinctly different roughness levels. The surveys found that smooth rides mattered to most passengers, and that rough rides could even lead to some loss of ridership. Click on the link below to see the full report:

Characterization of Transit Ride Quality

For more information, contact Raj Bridgelall at raj.bridgellal@ndsu.edu.

2016 Rural Transit Fact Book Published

SURTC has published its 2016 edition of the Rural Transit Fact Book. This publication is intended to serve as a national resource for statistics and information on rural transit in America. The Fact Book includes rural demographic and travel behavior data as well as financial, operating, and fleet statistics and performance measures for agencies receiving section 5311 funding. In addition to national level data, statistics are presented by state, FTA region, tribe, and mode, as well as other agency characteristics.

The Rural Transit Fact Book presents agency level data from the Rural National Transit Database (NTD) and rural demographic and travel data from the American Community Survey and the National Household Travel Survey.

The publication can be downloaded at the SURTC website. For more information, or if you're interested in receiving a hard copy, contact Jeremy Mattson at jeremy.w.mattson@ndsu.edu.

Webinar – Estimating Ridership of Rural Demand-Response Transit

SURTC researcher Jeremy Mattson will be conducting a webinar discussing the recent report "Estimating Ridership of Rural Demand-Response Transit Services for the General Public." This report provides useful insights to operators looking to enhance their ridership and respond to the changing needs in their communities. The webinar is being hosted by National RTAP on November 16 at 1:30 PM to 2:30 PM CST.

This study developed two models for estimating demand: one using 2013 NTD data and the other using more detailed service data collected from surveys of transit agencies. Jeremy will discuss the results of the study and how to use these two models.

The models can be used by transit agencies or transportation planners to:

  • Forecast demand for new demand-response services.
  • Estimate the impact of service changes, such as changes in geographic coverage, span of service, fares, reservation requirements.
  • Project future ridership based on projected population and demographic changes.

Register now and join us for this webinar! Find additional recorded and upcoming webinars from the National RTAP website.

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