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CHAPTER 2 Rural DRT and Why Performance Matters Rural DRT is far more diverse than its urban counterpart. There are many more DRT systems operating in rural areas across the country than there are in urban settings. Of the approximate 1,500 rural systems nationwide, the large majority provides demand-response service; there are only about 400 urban DRT systems. Rural DRT covers a wider range of system types compared with urban DRT as characterized by sponsoring organizations, types of services operated, and geographic size of service area, among other attributes. However, similarly to urban DRT, rural DRT systems are under performance pressures although the pressures may have somewhat different emphasis. Pressures on urban DRT are often related to the growing demand for service and high costs per passenger trip, particularly for ADA paratransit systems, while the issues for rural DRT often relate to funding and the need to stretch limited operating and capital resources. This means that the performance focus in any particular month for a rural DRT system may not be managing ridership demand (as it might be for a large urban ADA paratransit system), but it may well be the ability of the system to keep an aging fleet of vans in road-worthy condition for service each day. This chapter provides a framework for the Guidebook, providing a brief background on rural DRT and the broader environment--geographic, demographic, policy--within which it operates. This environment must be understood when the performance of rural DRT is addressed. 2.1 Rural DRT--It's Different DRT is typically defined as public transit that is not traditional fixed-route, fixed-schedule, but rather a service that responds in some manner or form to individualized requests or demand for transportation service. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has defined DRT as follows: Demand-response is a transit mode comprised of passenger cars, vans or small buses operating in response to calls from passengers or their agents to the transit operator, who then dispatches a vehicle to pick up the passengers and transport them to their destinations. A demand-response (DR) operation is characterized by the following: a. The vehicles do not operate over a fixed-route or on a fixed-schedule except, per- haps, on a temporary basis to satisfy a special need, and 3