Posts categorized under "Transit Industry News"

VA Grants for Transportation in Rural Areas

A Department of Veterans Affairs initiative will support new transportation services to improve access to health care for veterans living in highly rural areas, which is defined as a county or counties with a population of fewer than seven persons per square mile.  The VA is accepting applications for grants to help state Veterans Service Agencies and Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) operate or contract for transportation services to transport veterans to VA medical centers and other facilities that provide VA care. VSOs and State Veterans Service Agencies may apply for grants up to $50,000. Applications must be submitted by September 9, 2013. For more information about these grants, see the VA News Release and the notice in the Federal Register.

The need for more veteran transportation options is growing rapidly. SURTC is currently conducting a study to determine the most efficient and feasible transportation options available for veterans and their families. For more information about this study, contact Del Peterson at del.peterson@ndsu.edu.

FTA Online Dialogue on Transit Asset Management

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is inviting public transportation stakeholders to participate in a national online dialogue on transit asset management (TAM), from December 12, 2012 to January 4, 2013. This dialogue will provide participants the opportunity to discuss and provide suggestions on some of the key questions surrounding TAM. The dialogue is free and open to the public. States, MPOs, local governments, transit agencies, and transit advocacy groups are especially encouraged to participate.

For more details, download the informational flyer here (pdf)  or go to the following link to register and participate: National Online Dialogue on Transit Asset Management

Transit Roundup

The U.S. DOT has launched a national online dialogue to highlight the local transportation needs, challenges, and opportunities facing the nation's veterans, military service members, and their families. Military families, veterans, and organizations supporting them are invited to participate in the discussion. Easter Seals Project ACTION is managing and operating the dialogue. Click here for more information.

Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) has recently covered a number of stories regarding rural transportation and transit providers in rural Minnesota. These stories and a chat session including SURTC's Keven Anderson can be found on MPR's website for the project titled Getting There.

A new TCRP Synthesis Report explores the use of social media among transit agencies and documents successful practices in the United States and Canada.

Transit Roundup: Funding Opportunities, Transportation Legislation, and Ridership Increases

  • The U.S. DOT announced the availability of $15 million under the FTA's Tribal Transit Program. Proposals must be submitted by May 10, 2012. (FTA Press Release)
  • U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood wrote in his blog Fast Lane about the importance of FTA grants to transit systems in small communities.
  • The U.S. Senate, last week, passed its version of surface transportation legislation (see reactions from APTA and AASHTO), but the House's bill is not expected to reach the floor until after the current legislation expires on March 31 (Politico, The Hill), so Congress will now focus on extending SAFETEA-LU (Transportation Issues Daily). Transportation for America conducted some detailed analysis comparing the Senate and House bills.
  • APTA released its ridership report last week for 2011, showing a 2.3% increase from 2010. The largest growth was in rural and small urban communities. Ridership increased 5.4% in communities with population under 100,000. (APTA Press Release)

Transit Roundup: House Transportation Bill, TIGER, Veterans Transportation, and State Transportation Facts

  • The House Ways and Means Committee voted Friday to stop letting gasoline-tax revenue be used for mass-transit projects. Currently, 2.86 cents of the 18.4-cent gasoline tax paid by U.S. motorists is devoted to public transportation. Instead, under the House bill, the gasoline-tax revenue would be used entirely on road and bridge construction, and a one-time transfer of $40 billion from the general fund would be used to fund transit projects (Bloomberg Business Week). The move is opposed by many transportation organizations, including APTA, AASHTO, CTAA, Transportation for America, and others (Daily Yonder).
  • The U.S. DOT has announced a fourth round of funding for the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Discretionary Grant program. TIGER 2012 will provide $500 million of funding, including $120 million for rural transportation projects (DOT Press Release).
  • The DOT announced its intention to offer a second round of Veterans Transportation and Community Living Initiative grants (VTCLI). The anticipated funding amount is $25 million in Section 5309 Bus and Bus Facilities, and a Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) is expected to be published in the coming weeks. Visit the VTCLI webpage for more information about the program.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs is seeking comments on a proposed rule that would establish a grant program to help veterans in highly rural areas get transportation to VA medical centers. The proposed program would fund vehicle procurement and operation and allow for the establishment of car pool or ridesharing programs. Read the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for more information and to submit comments.
  • The DOT's Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) released State Transportation Facts and Figures, an interactive web transportation mapping application that allows customers to find state-by-state transportation data, comparisons and rankings as well as gives them the ability to download state transportation information.

Transit Roundup

  • A new Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) Report, TCRP Synthesis 94: Innovative Rural Transit Services, highlights rural public and intercity bus service responses to changing rural community transportation needs, with an emphasis on innovative and entrepreneurial spirit.
  • The U.S. DOT awarded $15 million in grants through the Federal Transit Administration's (FTA) Tribal Transit Program. The funds will go to tribes in 25 states for 67 separate projects. (FTA Press Release)

Transit Roundup

MATBUS's "210 in 2010" Campaign

SURTC would like to recognize and share innovative marketing strategies and advertising ideas being used by small urban and rural transit agencies. One fun advertising campaign we would like to share is the “210 in 2010” campaign by MATBUS in Fargo, North Dakota.

The target audience for this ad campaign was the students at North Dakota State University (NDSU). MATBUS reached out to university administrators, student organizations, student government, university employees, dining services, alumni relations, and others and asked them to take part in the campaign. SURTC staff were honored to be included. The intent was to feature 210 people during the course of the 2010-2011 academic year who actually used MATBUS and would publicly state their support of it.

In addition to telling its story, MATBUS wanted to tell the story of its riders. The ads included each of the people's names, hometowns, major/department and year in college to further personalize them. The most effective piece of the ad was the yellow sign that each of the participants held (yellow is one of NDSU's official colors). On this sign, the participants were encouraged to write their own personal message as to the reason they used MATBUS. Each message was different and was completely chosen by that person to reflect their personal feelings and experiences. MATBUS wanted to show potential riders that people just like them, that they probably already knew, were MATBUS riders and that they should be too!

The ads were featured in the university newspaper, the MATBUS website, NDSU’s website, in each of the bus shelters on campus, and on Facebook and Flickr. Ads have even been seen hung all over campus by friends of those featured. Results from the campaign have been very positive. Student awareness of the service and ridership are up, and survey results show the ad campaign improved public perception of services. It also created positive relationships between MATBUS and NDSU.

The ads can be seen on MATBUS's Flickr page, and more information can be found on the U-Pass page on their website:

This ad campaign has been entered in the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) AdWheel competition. The AdWheel Awards are presented by APTA each year to honor the marketing and communication efforts of transit agencies.

If you have any advertising ideas you would like to share, email them to jeremy.w.mattson@ndsu.edu and we can post them on our blog.

Transit Roundup

  • The FTA announced the availability of $30 million for a new Veterans Transportation and Community Living Initiative. Competitive capital assistance grants will be awarded to local transportation providers and other groups around the country to improve coordination and delivery of information through “one-call” or “one click” centers. (FTA News Release)
  • The FTA earlier announced the availability of $15 million for transportation improvements on rural tribal lands under the FTA's Tribal Transit Program. (FTA News Release, Federal Register (pdf))
  • A new TCRP report (Report 146) provides guidance to transit agencies considering adoption of alternative fuel buses. Tools are provided to identify the issues, costs, and benefits of various available alternative fuel technologies.
  • Also recently released, TCRP Synthesis 89 documents the experiences of transit providers in engaging the public and explores strategies for improving public participation.
  • Smart Growth America announces that a webinar about the TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) program will be offered August 3rd for rural transportation and planning practitioners. The webinar is being offered by a parternship between the following organizations: the American Public Transportation Association, the National Association of Development Organizations, the National League of Cities, PolicyLink, Reconnecting America, Rural Assembly, Smart Growth America, and Transportation for America.

New ADA Amendments Regarding Service Animals and Mobility Devices and the FTA

As many of you are aware, the new ADA Amendments and the resulting U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) final rules regarding service animals and mobility devices went into effect on March 15, 2011.  They included provisions relating to the distinction between wheelchairs and other powered mobility devices and limited the types of animals that are defined as service animals.  However, it is important to note that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) have issued no changes to their ADA regulations which cover transportation provided by both the private and public sector.

FTA clarifies that transit operators should not make any changes to their service animal policies or the manner in which they regard mobility devices as a result of the ADA Amendments and the DOJ regulations.  Changes to accommodate DOJ regulations could result in a grantee being out of compliance with the DOT ADA regulations.

FTA states that any amendments to the DOT ADA regulations would be announced through publication of rulemaking documents in the Federal Register with an effective date.  Until such documents are published, the DOT regulations remain unchanged.  For additional information, see:  http://www.fta.dot.gov/civilrights/civil_rights_2360.html.

Our thanks to Kim Johnson, Manager of the Transportation Services Section of the Michigan Department of Transportation for giving us the “heads up” on the discrepancy between the DOJ and FTA regulations during a recent training session in Michigan.

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