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6 Report 101: Toolkit for Rural Community Coordinated 99 (1,5) summarized within this synthesis's literature review Transportation Services (2); TCRP Report 105: Strategies in the following section. This synthesis is a follow-up to that to Increase Coordination of Transportation Services for the earlier research, and readers are urged to review those two Transportation Disadvantaged (3); and TCRP Report 121: documents in conjunction with this synthesis. One of the key Toolkit for Integrating Non-dedicated Vehicles in Paratran- points taken from those documents is the need to align the sit Service (4). Additional coordination studies were con- organization for change, developing a culture of innovation. ducted through Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA) and Project ACTION. Technology-related The Guidebook on Change and Innovation (TCRP Report studies can also be found through TCRP, CTAA, and FHWA. 70 ) focuses on the "culture of innovation." According to the guidebook, "The culture of innovation suggests that an orga- Despite the categorization of innovations into common nization is willing and able to change" (1). The need for an groups, innovations tend to fit a particular niche or need, entrepreneurial leader was also apparent as every case study and are typically tailored to an individual transit agency. It is confirmed. important that the reader not necessarily attempt to replicate an innovation from another agency, but rather take the idea Thinking in the Future Tense and tailor it for a particular situation. It is interesting to note that in 1999 bicycle racks were con- Background on Rural Transit and Intercity Service sidered innovative. The question to be asked is, Why wasn't that thought of 80 years ago? Why did it take so long for an Rural transit is defined as transportation services available innovation that within 10 years is almost as ubiquitous as a to the public in communities of fewer than 50,000 residents. lift or ramp and has expanded the reach of transit? What is This can include public transportation services operating in the next major innovation waiting to happen, and how will only one town up to multicounty transit systems, which in it be created? What types of organization and what types of some cases can be as many as 25 counties. Rural transit also managers are prerequisites for this to happen? includes intercity bus services, which provide critical link- ages across vast stretches of the country. Public as well as Significantly, certain organizations are better positioned private providers may operate rural transit. to "think in the future tense," through management style and practice that fosters creativity and innovation. Such Across the country, rural transit comes in many different organization characteristics were explored as part of TCRP designs and configurations, with each service implemented Reports 70 and 99, which provide a detailed bibliography on to meet the needs of its often-unique community or com- organizational change and adaptation. Understanding and munities. Population densities are low and come nowhere anticipating future patterns, trends, and needs will allow an near the levels that urban systems enjoy. This results in a organization to change in a timely manner rather than con- high cost per trip at rural agencies because of long distances tinually playing "catch up." that must be traveled and low productivities achieved. With limited funding, growing needs for service, and the realities of their operating environment, rural transit needs to adapt. REPORT METHODOLOGY Innovation in Rural Transit This synthesis includes a literature review; a survey of state agencies, state and national associations, and transit provid- Real-world experience teaches us that over the past 30 years, ers; and five case studies. Follow-up interviews were con- a number of significant transit innovations have come from ducted as necessary. The literature review included both rural areas. Examples include bus wraps, service routes, documents germane to the topic of innovation, as well as coordinated intercity feeder connections, and coordination publications that might have highlighted innovative prac- of Medicaid and human service transportation. It is interest- tices. Sources included TCRP reports, and documents from ing to note that one of the first practitioners of bus wraps was CTAA, Project ACTION of Easter Seals, and university Pee Dee Regional Transit in South Carolina. The system was research centers. successful in generating revenue for that innovative transit system in the mid-1980s and early 1990s. [In the 1980s and A web-based survey was developed specifically for this early 1990s, Pee Dee Regional Transit was an innovative sys- synthesis to search for innovative practices. Survey can- tem with its bus wraps, 50-mile (one-way) commuter routes didates were contacted by email and asked to participate. to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and its unique approach to Many did, but some requested that we contact the transit local service.] system directly. Respondents included state departments of transportation (DOTs), national associations, and transit Innovation among rural transit agencies has been explored providers. The response rate was 82%. Appendix A includes in earlier TCRP research, specifically TCRP Reports 70 and a copy of the survey, and Appendix B lists the respondents.