Posts for "2011"

Transit Roundup

Upcoming Seminar – Minnesota Public Transit 101

UGPTI's Transportation Seminar Series is back and we're kicking everything off with Keven Anderson from the State of Minnesota Office of Transit. His presentation, titled Minnesota Public Transit 101, will address the basic structure and organization of public transit in greater Minnesota. It will cover fleet structure, employees, types of rides provided, state oversight, funding, and interaction with local entities and federal agencies. The seminar will be held Aug. 30, 2011 at 2:00 p.m. in Room 422 of the IACC building on the campus of North Dakota State University.

Seminars are scheduled for Tuesdays from 2:00 to 2:50 p.m. throughout the fall semester. For those unable to attend, these seminars are being recorded. Links to the presentations and recordings will be posted online shortly after the conclusion of each seminar.

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.

SURTC Summer 2011 Newsletter Released

The Summer 2011 issue of the Transit Lane Brief  has been published and is available online. This issue features articles on the recently published Rural Transit Fact Book and SURTC Research Digest, new training activities, the development of a national transit curriculum, and recent studies on how the built environment influences transit ridership and how transit subsidies can be justified.

We are also encouraging transit agencies to share your advertising ideas with us and we will post them on our blog. Send your entries to jeremy.w.mattson@ndsu.edu.

The current and previous issues of the SURTC newsletter can be downloaded from the SURTC website.

Ride or Relocate Webinar

SURTC and the National Center on Senior Transportation (NCST) held a live webinar August 3rd. The webinar was cosponsored by the Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA) and the Community Transportation Assistance Program (CTAP). The presentation addressed results from a study conducted in North Dakota which quantified the cost of living at home and riding transit versus relocating to an assisted living facility. In addition, potential marketing strategies were presented utilizing the results of the study to reach people who may be in the process of making these difficult decisions. View the archived seminar

Rural Transit Fact Book Published

SURTC has published its first annual 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.

Despite the widespread benefits, no regularly-published national rural transit information resource has been previously made available. The Rural Transit Fact Book is being initiated to provide information to assist the transit industry in the United States provide efficient and effective service to rural communities. It 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 uses 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, contact Jeremy Mattson at jeremy.w.mattson@ndsu.edu.

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 Research Digest Published

The first annual SURTC Research Digest has been published and is available online. The SURTC Research Digest provides a number of articles discussing recently completed research projects. The articles are highly condensed, non-technical versions of the full studies, but they provide more depth and detail than what is published in our newsletter. This edition of the SURTC Research Digest includes articles on seven research projects completed in 2010. Topics range from the mobility concerns of the elderly and people with disabilities to the impact of fuel prices on individuals’ travel choices. Additional topics include technology adoption by rural transit agencies, perceptions of higher education students in regard to employment in the public transportation industry, the role that public transportation plays in health care, and efforts to coordinate rural transit services. The intent of this publication is to make our research findings accessible to a wider audience. The publication can be downloaded from the SURTC website at the following link: 2011 SURTC Research Digest (pdf).

U.S. DOT Announces Funding for Livability Grants, State of Good Repair, Energy Reduction

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced the availability of $175 million in livability grants. Local transit agencies will be able to compete for these funds, which are intended to improve transportation options for urban, suburban, and rural communities. A goal of the livability grants is for transportation and housing decisions to be made jointly.

The news release from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced the following:

Up to $150 million of the livability funding being announced comes from the Bus and Bus Facilities Program, which provides money to purchase or replace buses and to build bus-related facilities. The remaining funds come from the Alternatives Analysis Program, which provides money to help communities evaluate and select the best transit options to meet their transportation needs. The money can be spent on a broad range of projects within those two categories.

Proposals must be submitted by July 29. For more information, see the June 27 Federal Register (pdf).

The FTA also recently announced the availability of funding in support of its State of Good Repair initiative. This initiative will be funded with up to $750 million in unallocated Fiscal Year (FY) 2011 discretionary Bus and Bus Facilities Program funds. Proposals must be submitted by July 29.

At least $101 million in funding is also available for the Transit Investments for Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction (TIGGER) program and Clean Fuels Grant program. The intent of these programs is to promote the usage and development of energy efficient technologies that reduce energy use, greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants. Proposals must be submitted by August 23.

For more information on these funding opportunities, the FTA website provides links to the announcements in the Federal Register.

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