Posts categorized under "Research"

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 ranjitprasad.godavar@ndsu.edu or Jeremy Mattson at jeremy.w.mattson@ndsu.edu.

Research Report – Improving Veteran Mobility in Small Urban and Rural Areas

A recently completed SURTC study examined ways to improve veteran mobility in small urban and rural areas. The need for veteran transportation is growing rapidly because of the increasing number of older veterans and injured service men and women. Many veterans in rural areas have special mobility needs and must travel long distances to receive medical care. 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 transportation options for meeting their mobility needs. Special attention was given to the medical transportation of veterans to VA health care centers. The feasibility of a coordination effort between VA health care centers and rural public transit agencies for transporting veterans to medical appointments was also studied. A key finding is that transit agencies can increase ridership and VA health centers can lower beneficiary travel costs if they coordinate services. The study results can serve as a service planning tool for rural transit agencies. Lastly, this is an optimal time to begin talking about strategies for rural transit to transition aging veterans from personal vehicles to public transit.

Links to the full report and the executive summary can be found at the website below:

Improving Veteran Mobility in Small Urban and Rural Areas

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

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.

SURTC at CTAA EXPO

SURTC staff will be participating in this year's Community Transportation EXPO, being held June 8-13 in St. Paul, MN. Jill Hough, SURTC director, will be presenting "Ethics in Decision Making," and SURTC researcher Del Peterson will be presenting results from a recent study on veterans transportation. Details about their presentations are below:

Speaker: Jill Hough
Presentation title: Ethics in Decision Making
Session: Professional Development Leadership Sessions
Date and time: Wed. June 11, 3:15 pm
Location: RiverCentre, Meeting Room 2

Speaker: Del Peterson
Presentation title: Improving Veteran Mobility in Small Urban and Rural Areas
Session: Veterans Mobility: How VTCLI Has Helped Us Serve our Veterans
Date and time: Wed. June 11, 3:15 pm
Location: RiverCentre, Meeting Room 12

SURTC will also have a booth at the EXPO. Stop by our booth and visit with Rob Lynch, SURTC's training coordinator, and other SURTC staff. Summaries of recent research projects and other SURTC material will be available.

Upcoming Webcast: Cost-Benefit Analysis of Rural and Small Urban Transit

SURTC researchers Ranjit Godavarthy and Jeremy Mattson will be presenting results from their cost-benefit analysis research as part of the Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR) webcast series. The webcast, titled "Cost-Benefit Analysis of Rural and Small Urban Transit," will be presented March 20 at 11:00 am central time.

This research estimates the benefits of public transit systems in small urban and rural areas in the United States. 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 benefits from transit operations. 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 both nationally and by state to demonstrate the impacts of investments in rural and small urban transit.

Information on how to view the webcast can be found at the CUTR website: View Connection Information

Webinar on Engaging People with Disabilities and Older Adults in Coordinated Planning

SURTC researcher Del Peterson will be participating in a webinar November 22 on engaging people with disabilities and older adults in coordinated planning. He will be presenting results from SURTC research regarding the use of technologies to improve public participation in transportation planning. The webinar is being hosted as part of a project sponsored by the Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Community Living. More information about the webinar is below:

What's Research Got to do with It? Applying Evidence-based Practices to Improve the Participation of People with Disabilities and Older Adults in Coordinated Planning

Learn how evidence-based practices can be incorporated into strategies to engage people with disabilities and older adults in coordinated transportation planning; hear stories from SURTC researchers and ACL catalysts about how evidence-based practices are used in their work; obtain resources to identify evidence-based practices; and learn how to tap into the UTC program and other federal and non-federal resources related to research.

Speakers

  • Del Peterson, associate research fellow with the Small Urban & Rural Transit Center (SURTC) located at North Dakota State University (NDSU)
  • Crystal Lyons, president of Crystal Fortune Lyons, LLC, and a professional consulting company specializing in disability policy development and DOJ and DOT ADA Title II compliance.
  • Jed Johnson, MSW, MBA, Director, National Veteran Caregiver Training Program, Easter Seals headquarters
  • Full speaker biographies (PDF)(133 KB)

Webinar Information

  • Nov. 22, 2:00-3:00 p.m. Eastern Time
  • Click here to participate in the webinar.

To learn more about the Inclusive Coordinated Transportation Project, visit TransitPlanning4All.

Participation at Louisiana Public Transit Conference

Keven Anderson, coordinator of training and outreach, and researcher Jeremy Mattson are participating in the 2013 Louisiana Public Transit Conference in New Orleans, LA, Nov. 20-22.

Anderson is conducting a session on succession planning and mentoring. Many of the transit managers currently in the industry are at or near retirement age, and most systems have no plans for future managers. In his presentation, Anderson will discuss how to run your transit system as a business and how to grow your current employees through mentor programs to take on more responsibility and continue to grow.

Mattson is giving a presentation on the use of alternative fuels and hybrid vehicles by small urban and rural transit systems. His presentation will be based on a previous study he conducted which involved a survey of small urban and rural transit operators. This research examined the use of alternative fuels and hybrids by these agencies, satisfaction with these alternatives, problems encountered, reasons for adoption, and deterrents, both perceived and real. Click here to access the report.

SURTC is part of New Rural and Small Urban Livability Center

The Small Urban and Rural Transit Center (SURTC) will be a partner in a new Small Urban and Rural Livability Center being established with a two-year $2.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation.  The grant was awarded as part of the University Transportation Centers (UTC) program.

The Western Transportation Institute at Montana State University will lead the effort to conduct research, education, and outreach activities on issues such as expanding public transportation options; creating safe routes for bicyclists and pedestrians; improving access to key regional transportation hubs and destinations; and integrating all available modes of transportation. SURTC brings to the effort expertise in transit, mobility’s impact on access to vital services in rural communities and other rural livability factors. The center will receive $1.1 million over two years for its involvement in the project.

SURTC was created in 2001 to assist small urban and rural transit systems and other transit entities by conducting research and offering outreach and training. In recognition of the role that mobility plays in the livability of rural communities, the center has increased its emphasis on this area of research.

“When people think about livable communities, one of their top priorities is being able to get where they need to go without always having to use their car,” said Steve Albert, director of the Western Transportation Institute. “Most of the livability initiatives up to now have focused on urban areas, so we are very excited and honored to take the lead on these issues for millions of Americans who live in small cities and rural areas.”

The U.S. DOT Research and Innovative Technology Administration received more than 140 applications for UTC awards from universities and research consortiums across the country, and selected only 35 centers.   “Only two Centers were chosen to focus on livability issues, so we are very proud to represent interests and needs of rural residents,” said Western Transportation Institute program manager David Kack, who will serve as the center’s director.

“We look forward to our partnership with the Western Transportation Institute and continuing our work in regards to livability in rural and small urban areas,” said Jill Hough, SURTC director.  Hough will serve as the deputy director of the new center.

“Many rural areas are seeing a dramatic increase in the elderly population. Our research shows that elderly individuals prefer to stay in their homes for as long as possible, and it’s cost effective for them to do so,” Hough notes. “At the same time, some rural communities are seeing rapid population growth and economic development.  Mobility plays a critical role in maintaining and enhancing the livability of communities in both cases,” she said.

“The grant funding and our collaboration with the Western Transportation Institute will help us address key issues related to livability in rural areas,” Hough said. “It’s likely our work will be useful in addressing those issues in urban and suburban areas as well.”

Research Report – Effortless Passenger Identification System

A recently completed SURTC study evaluated the use of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to track transit passengers. The technology is referred to as the Effortless Passenger Identification System (EPIS).

The RFID tags used by EPIS can be read at longer distances than the contactless or proximity cards currently used in the industry. This characteristic allows passengers to be identified and counted as they board and alight vehicles without requiring them to physically present their card within a short distance of an on-vehicle reader.

This study was funded by the Transportation Research Board's Transit Innovations Deserving Exploratory Analysis (IDEA) program and led by SURTC researcher Del Peterson. Peterson evaluated the technical, operational, and economic feasibility of using medium-range RFID technology to track transit passengers.

The technology successfully recorded riders boarding the bus almost 90 percent of the time during field testing conducted at North Dakota State University (NDSU). Controlled testing results indicated that the reader received a valid signal from the RFID card if it was in plain sight and there was no interference present.

Consumer acceptance surveys of college students, people with physical and mental disabilities, and parents of school-aged children yielded positive findings regarding the merit of this technology. The main obstacles are the issues of multiple reads occurring when riders get too close to the antennas, and the inability to read the cards successfully when interference is present.

A cost-benefit analysis showed that with proper ridership numbers, EPIS technology can provide an economic benefit to transit agencies.

A link to the final report is provided below. For more details, contact Del Peterson at del.peterson@ndsu.edu

TRB’s Innovations Deserving Exploratory Analysis (IDEA) Final Report for Transit IDEA Project 70: Effortless Passenger Identification System (pdf)

2013 Rural Transit Fact Book Published

FactBookCoverSURTC has published its 2013 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. Information on transit service availability and cost is necessary to efficiently and effectively meet rural community mobility needs. Financial and operating statistics can be used by agency managers, local decision makers, state directors, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), and lawmakers to assist in policy making, planning, managing operations, and evaluating performance.

This publication 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 www.surtc.org/transitfactbook. For more information, or if you're interested in receiving a hard copy, contact Jeremy Mattson at jeremy.w.mattson@ndsu.edu.

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