Posts for "2011"

Transportation Seminar: Ethics in the Workplace

SURTC director Jill Hough will be presenting a seminar on Ethics in the Workplace for UGPTI's Transportation Seminar Series. There seems to be a growing number of scandals all over the globe and in the United States. Some argue there is an increased need for teaching ethics in our educational system as well as a need for improved ethics in the workplace.  What is ethics? Is ethics merely the difference between right and wrong or good and bad? What issues should be considered in ethical decision making? Various decision making tests exist for ethics and will be examined during this seminar. The seminar will be held Nov. 8, 2011 at 2:00 p.m. in Room 422 of the IACC building on the campus of North Dakota State University. Shortly after the conclusion of the seminar, links to the presentation and a recording of the presentation will be posted online on the Transportation Seminar Series website.

Transportation Seminar: Marginal Cost Pricing and Subsidy of Transit

As part of UGPTI's Transportation Seminar Series, SURTC researcher Jeremy Mattson will present a seminar on Marginal Cost Pricing and Subsidy of Transit.  This seminar, which is based on a recently completed study, will present results from a survey of small urban transit agencies regarding recent changes in service levels, fares, and funding; discuss the rationale for subsidizing transit; present cost data for small urban transit systems; focus on economies of scale, marginal cost pricing, and transportation externalities; and present results from a cost model. The seminar will be held Nov. 1, 2011 at 2:00 p.m. in Room 422 of the IACC building on the campus of North Dakota State University. Shortly after the conclusion of the seminar, links to the presentation and a recording of the presentation will be posted online on the Transportation Seminar Series website.

Transportation Seminar: Transit Ridership and the Built Environment

The built environment and its effect on transit ridership will be discussed during the Transportation Seminar Series on October 18th. The presentation will focus on recently published findings from the report: Transit Ridership and the Built Environment. The objective of this research was to determine what variables (e.g., land-use mix, walkability) play an important role in determining the built environment/transit ridership relationship in the Fargo-Moorhead community.

Tribal Transit Assessment Study Completed

A new report titled "5311(c) Tribal Transit Funding: Assessing Impacts and Determining Future Program Needs" by SURTC associate research fellow Jon Mielke has been posted online.

The study assesses the impacts of the federal 5311(c) tribal transit program and future program funding needs.

Over 100 tribal entities were identified as having received start-up or enhancement program funding since 2006. Grantees were surveyed to identify impacts associated with the receipt of program funds, all of which are available for operating and capital purposes with no local match requirements. Program funding increased from $8 million for FY 2006 to $15 million for FY 2009, 2010, and 2011.

The study reviews prior work regarding personal mobility need indicators as they pertain to Indian reservations, as well as prior and ongoing work concerning the growth in local tribal transit services since the late 1990s.

Survey responses were analyzed to identify former and current ridership levels, trip purposes, and funding sources. Results were also compared to National Transit Database findings on performance measures related to passenger trips per mile, operating expenses per trip and per mile, and farebox recovery.

The study assesses how dependent tribal transit operators are on 100% 5311(c) funding. These assessments, along with projections regarding the initiation of new services around the country, can serve as the basis for projecting future program funding needs.

For more information, contact Jon Mielke at jon.mielke@ndsu.edu. The final report is available at www.surtc.org/research/reports.php.

Marginal Cost Pricing and Subsidy of Transit in Small Urban Areas

A SURTC study conducted by Jeremy Mattson and David Ripplinger found that small urban transit agencies experience increasing returns to scale and density. This implies that increasing service levels will result in lower average costs. The report, titled "Marginal Cost Pricing and Subsidy of Transit in Small Urban Areas," has been published and is now available online.

This study analyzes economies of scale and density as a rationale for subsidizing transit agencies in small urban areas. A long-run cost model is estimated using data for 168 transit agencies that directly operate fixed-route bus service in small urban areas. Using vehicle revenue miles as transit output, results show that small urban transit agencies experience economies of scale and density. A full cost model was estimated that included the addition of external costs, such as environmental effects, and benefits. A benefit of increasing service levels is a reduction in rider waiting times. The study attempted to quantify this benefit. Results from the model were used to estimate the marginal social cost of providing service. Setting the fare equal to marginal social cost would maximize social welfare.

The results provide justification for subsidizing transit. The needed subsidy is calculated as the difference between the revenue generated by the optimal fare and that needed to maintain efficient levels of production. The rationale for subsidies is an important issue as many agencies have experienced recent reductions in operational funding.

Included in the report is a survey of transit agencies in small urban areas regarding recent changes in fares, service levels, and funding. The survey found that nearly half of these transit providers have either reduced service or increased fares over a two-year period, primarily because of decreases in operational funding.

For more information, contact Jeremy Mattson at jeremy.w.mattson@ndsu.edu. The publication can be downloaded at the following link: Marginal Cost Pricing and Subsidy of Transit in Small Urban Areas (pdf)

Transit Ridership and the Built Environment

SURTC has published a new report that focused on evaluating the the built environment and its influence on transit ridership. In relation to travel behavior, there has been a focus on improving our understanding of how the built environment influences one's travel mode choice. Planners need evidence showing how land use matters as they advocate for the adoption of different planning principles. This is especially true in small urban areas where planners seldom utilize innovative land-use principles, such as smart growth, within their planning process.

The objective of this research was to determine what variables play an important role in determining the built environment/transit ridership relationship in the Fargo-Moorhead community. Socio-economic and level of service variables were also considered. The publication can be downloaded at the following link:  Transit Ridership and the Built Environment.

Preliminary Results from Mobile Electronic Device Surveys Posted

SURTC has conducted two rounds of onboard surveys using mobile electronic devices. Droid smartphones and a Samsung Galaxy tablet were used to conduct the surveys. The first round of surveys occurred last winter on routes heavily used by North Dakota State University students. The second round of surveys were conducted on a number of different routes throughout the metro area last spring. These surveys were conducted in conjunction with a rider survey developed by the Fargo-Moorhead Metropolitan Council of Governments for its transit development plan. Preliminary results from these surveys, including a discussion of experiences with these devices, can be found in the following documents:

Webcast Recording for Fargo-Moorhead Transit Development Plan Public Input Meeting Posted

SURTC conducted a webcast Sept. 21 during a public input meeting hosted by the Fargo-Moorhead Metropolitan Council of Governments (MetroCOG).  The intent of the meeting was to inform the public and solicit comments regarding the Transit Development Plan. SURTC is investigating the use of tools such as webcasts for increasing public participation in transit planning. In this webcast, SURTC researcher Jeremy Mattson interviewed the consultant regarding the transit plan and recommendations they have developed for improving MATBUS service in Fargo-Moorhead. A recording of the webcast is available at the following link:

SURTC to Conduct Webcast of Public Input Meeting

As part of the Transit, Technology, & Public Participation Project, SURTC will test the use of webcasting technology for increasing public participation in transit planning. The Fargo-Moorhead Metropolitan Council of Governments (FM MetroCOG) will be hosting a public input meeting all day (8 am to 8 pm) on Wednesday, Sept. 21 at the Ground Transportation Center in Fargo, ND. The purpose of the meeting is to seek public input regarding the 5-year transit development plan for Fargo-Moorhead. The webcast is intended as a tool for individuals who otherwise would not have attended the meeting in person the opportunity to learn about the transit plans being considered and provide input. SURTC is studying the use of tools such as webcasts for increasing public participation in the planning process.

The webcast will take place Wednesday, Sept. 21 at 3:00 pm (Central Time). It will be approximately 30 minutes long and can be viewed at the following link:

Following its completion, a recording of the webcast will be posted that can be viewed at any time.

SURTC Participates in Conference on Mobility of Older Adults

Researchers Jeremy Mattson and Del Peterson participated in a conference last week on Emerging Issues in Safe and Sustainable Mobility for Older Persons. The conference, which highlighted the  latest research regarding safe mobility for older persons, was hosted by the Transportation Research Board and the Committee of the Safe Mobility for Older Persons in Washington, DC. Mattson presented the results from a study analyzing the impacts of travel distance and access to transportation on use of health care services in small urban and rural areas. Peterson participated in a poster session, presenting the results from his Ride or Relocate study that examined costs of aging in place and using transit versus relocating to an assisted living facility. The following are links to these presentations and the studies they were derived from. Also provided is a link to a webinar in which Peterson presented the results from his study.

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