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1 A b o u t t h i s G u i d e There are 565 federally recognized tribes throughout the United States. In 1999, the Com- munity Transportation Association of America (CTAA) reported only 18 tribes operating public transit service. Since then, the number of tribes with a public transit service has grown to more than 100 and continues to increase as additional tribes plan and implement new services. Although these tribes have been able to start transit programs, many tribes have had to overcome challenges and others have been unsuccessful in implementing a transit service. The purpose of this guidebook is to provide guidance, information, and resources for tribal planners to develop or enhance a sustainable transit program that will meet the needs of tribal members, non-tribal residents, and visitors. TCRP Report 154: Developing, Enhancing, and Sustaining Tribal Transit Services: A Guide- book is part of Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) Project H-38, âDeveloping, Enhancing, and Sustaining Tribal Transit Programs.â The work is the result of research conducted with tribes and native villages throughout the country with and without transit systems. Phase 1 of the research was to contact tribes to determine if they were operating a public transit service and to gather some basic information about the transit service if they had one. Phase 1 led to publication of a booklet and PowerPoint, âNative Americans on the Move: Challenges and Successes.â Phase 2 of the research involved a much more detailed interview regarding the transit service or the reasons the tribe had been unable to implement a transit service. Several tribes were then selected for site visits to be used as case studies, which appear in this guidebook. The detailed results of the research effort are published separately as TCRP Web-Only Docu- ment 54: Developing, Enhancing, and Sustaining Tribal Transit Services: Final Research Report. The brochure, PowerPoint, and final research report all can be accessed and downloaded from the online address for this guidebook, http://www.trb.org/main/blurbs/166797.aspx. Organization of the Guidebook This guidebook is structured to provide an overview of the tribal transit planning process with more detailed information about the various steps for planning and implementing a transit system. The steps that are described may be used for planning a new transit system, enhancing an existing service, or taking action to sustain services. The guidebook is arranged in 10 chapters. Following a brief introduction to the contents of each chapter, this summary includes a discussion of technical planning tools highlighted
2 developing, enhancing, and sustaining tribal transit services: A Guidebook in the guidebook, as well as keys to sustainability and long-term success of a tribal tran- sit program. Several common themes were recognized as successful tribal transit pro- grams described the challenges they faced and how these were overcome. These keys to sustainability are evident in later chapters as examples are provided describing the steps which should be followed to successfully implement transit service. Resources from which excerpted or quoted material have been drawn, along with recommended resources, are gathered into a âFor More Informationâ section at the end of each chapter. TRB publica- tions are listed with specific online addresses and may also be accessed from www.trb.org using the search function. Chapter 1: Planning Considerations describes some specific issues and challenges faced by tribes when implementing a transit service. Although many challenges are similar to those faced by other transit systems, several issues are specific to tribal programs. Some of the planning considerations discussed in this chapter include tribal sovereignty, role of gov- erning bodies, tribal governing body and staff turnover, effective tribal government support, relationship with state and local governments, funding, and difficulty in finding qualified employees and adequate facilities. Chapter 2: Overview of the Planning Process describes in general terms the elements of the process to be followed. Many details are then provided in later chapters. The general steps of the planning process are to understand the existing resources for transportation, perform transportation needs assessment, develop strategic goals and objectives, conduct transit service planning, implement the service, and, finally, monitor and evaluate the transit program. Chapter 3: Inventory of Transportation Resources describes the approach for determin- ing what resources may already be available. Although a public transit service may not be in operation, transportation programs typically are operating within the tribe, such as medi- cal transportation, transportation for elders, or transportation to education opportunities. An understanding of the existing programs and resources is essential for determining what needs are not being met and what resources may be available to develop a transit service. The chapter discusses the different types of transportation programs that may be available in a community, gives information on the type of data to be collected from each transportation service, and addresses the need to document the existing funding sources of transportation providers in the area. Chapter 4: Transportation Needs Assessment provides information on how to deter- mine the transportation needs for various population segments. When the identified needs are compared with existing services, it is possible to establish the level of unmet needs. The chapter provides references for several technical planning resources that may be used by tribal planners. Chapter 5: Developing a Transit Vision, Goals, and Objectives presents the importance of developing a vision for the transit service and having specific objectives. Without an understanding of the desired outcome, it will be impossible to plan a successful service. This chapter gives examples of mission statements, goals, and objectives that have been devel- oped by tribal transit agencies. The chapter emphasizes the need for quantifiable service indicators to measure the accomplishment of objectives identified. It also suggests various quantifiable measures and discusses how useful these measures are in the operation and expansion of a tribal transit program. Chapter 6: Environmental Issues describes some of the environmental issues that must be considered when planning a transit service. Although certain activities do not require an environmental review, others will require some type of analysis before action can be taken. Some of the environmental programs discussed in this chapter include Congestion Miti-
About this Guide 3 gation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ), National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), Environmental Mitigation, and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements for facilities such as Categorical Exclusion (CE), Environmental Assessment (EA), an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), and Title VI requirements for providing transit service. Chapter 7: Transit Service Planning outlines the specific steps to be used in planning the transit operations. Different types of transit service are described, and guidelines are presented for analysis and selection of the most appropriate service type. This chapter also discusses a variety of challenges that tribes face in providing tribal transit programs. The challenges may affect the type of service that should be operated. The chapter also gives information on selecting the appropriate service type, ways to coordinate transportation programs, planning for adequate facilities, hazards and security, maintenance and safety, and specific insurance and licensing requirements. Chapter 8: Funding Tribal Transit Programs has important information about funding programs available for tribal transit programs. Funding to begin a service may be a challenge, but often the greater challenge is securing funding in future years to sustain the program. Several tribes have initiated a transit service and then have been forced to reduce or elimi- nate the service because of insufficient funding. This chapter lists the various federal grant programs and a sample of state programs that support tribal transit planning, operations, and services. It also discusses innovative approaches to local funding with examples of fund- ing innovations undertaken by tribal governments. Information is provided about Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and state program compliance and reporting requirements. Chapter 9: Elements of Transit Program Implementation describes the specific steps required when moving from initially developing a plan to starting the service. It gives infor- mation on operations, organization and administration, monitoring and reporting, main- tenance and safety, marketing, financial planning and budgeting, alternative fuels, vehicle disposal, legal issues, insurance, and the steps and responsibilities in the implementation process. Chapter 10: Tribal Transit Program Case Studies summarizes key information from the site visits conducted as part of the research. Examples of innovative approaches are given for the systems that have been successful in establishing and sustaining a tribal transit program. Technical Planning Tools This guidebook introduces some technical planning tools for planning a new transit ser- vice or enhancing an existing transit service. Brief descriptions of the tools are as follows: 1. Geographic Information System (GIS). GIS can be an important tool to plan, man- age, and evaluate a transit service. This tool can be used to display spatial distributions of populations, including various transit-dependent population segments, which can be analyzed to examine whether a proposed or existing transit service effectively serves origins and destinations. Use of GIS is described in Chapter 4. 2. Census Data. The decennial census and the American Community Survey (ACS) of the U.S. Bureau of the Census are good tools for gathering data on population, transit- dependent populations, Native American population, and Native American transit- dependent populations in specific communities. The use of census data for needs assess- ment is presented in Chapter 4. 3. Transit Demand Methodologies. Chapter 4 of the guidebook details the following tran- sit demand methodologies.
4 developing, enhancing, and sustaining tribal transit services: A Guidebook â¢ Program tripsâa method for assessing trips to and from specific social service programs, including Head Start, nursing homes, and senior centers. The first step of the process uses census information to estimate the number of participants within a specific program. The second step is to apply a trip rate to the number of participants for that specific program. This methodology estimates the annual number of trips for each program. â¢ Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) demand modelâa method that uses an Excel spreadsheet format to estimate the demand for ADA paratransit service. The input vari- ables include population, percentage of households below the poverty line, and fare. â¢ Rural public transit demandâa method for estimating the demand on a rural public transit service. This model is based on a database of 185 transit agencies across the coun- try. The model requires inputs for elderly persons, persons with limited mobility, and low-income populations, as well as the assumed level of service in terms of vehicle-miles. â¢ Urban public transit demandâa method for analyzing whether the existing transit service is meeting the communityâs needs on the fixed-route model. The model is based on household vehicle ownership, average walking distance to bus stops, and frequency of operation. â¢ Intercity demandâa method for estimating the demand on an intercity service. This model considers the number of passengers traveling one way on a given route, the population served, the cost to the rider, and the distance of the trip. â¢ Rural intercity demandâa method for estimating the demand for rural intercity bus service, including resources available on CD-ROM. â¢ Commuter demandâa method for calculating commuter demand by applying a trip rate to the number of workers traveling between counties for work. Keys to Sustainability The information gathered from tribes with successful transit programs revealed several common themes or keys to success. In most cases, implementing a sustainable program required incorporating all of these keys. As tribes consider developing or enhancing a tran- sit program, these keys should be kept in mind. The process described in this guidebook will help in establishing a sustainable transit program, but the path to sustainability will be found in these keys. Planning All successful tribal transit programs have been implemented following some type of plan. However, a common theme has been that the process of preparing a plan was as important, if not more important, than the plan itself. Developing the plan required those involved to assess the needs for transit service and determine the best approaches to meet those needs. Existing resources were identified and additional resource requirements were determined. As the plan was implemented, conditions inevitably differed, but having gone through the process allowed the key leadership to adjust to changing conditions. The planning process provided detailed information and the tools to make decisions as the implementation steps were undertaken. Many of the tribes have received either funding or technical assistance for preparation of their plans. The CTAA Tribal Technical Assistance Program (TTAP) and planning grants through the FTA Tribal Transit Program were cited as very valuable in planning for a new transit service. These resources are described in Appendix B. Other tribes have received planning grants from their state departments of transportation (DOTs). Many tribes have obtained assistance for preparing their plans, relying on expertise from professional transit A sustainable tribal transit program depends on planning, leadership, cooperation, training, and multiple sources of funding. âIn preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.â Dwight Eisenhower âPlans may not work, but planning does!â Mike Moritz, Sequoia
About this Guide 5 planners. Although not essential, assistance from experienced transit planners may provide insight and expertise unavailable locally. Local Leadership Strong local leadership has proved essential for implementing and sustaining a transit program. Invariably, challenges and barriers will arise that may make implementation difficult. Oversight and Responsibility Having a leader who is committed to the programâs success is vitally important. Every successful program attributed its success at least in part to having strong leadership within the tribe, particularly by a single person who has been dedicated to establishing and sustain- ing the transit program. As challenges and barriers arise, strong leadership will find ways to overcome each challenge. Funding agencies have found that having a single person who is dedicated to the transit program results in greater success. When the transit program is only part of a personâs job, far more problems and difficulties are encountered in starting the transit service. Support from Tribal Government Support from elected tribal officials is important to the sustainability and long-term suc- cess of a transit program. This support will facilitate approval of grant applications, develop- ment of agreements, cooperation from various tribal government departments, and tribal funding. When leadership support is lacking, transit programs may lose financial support from one year to another and face significant challenges to sustainability. Support from Tribal Elders Among many tribes, the tribal elders have significant influence on the decisions made by the elected officials. Strong support among tribal elders has been found to increase the level of support from the elected officials and is able to make the difference between having a transit program that is a priority or having a transit program that lacks support and may not be sustained. Cooperation and Coordination Cooperative Working Relationships Many successful transit programs have worked in cooperation with other transporta- tion programs. In some cases, these have been other transportation programs within the tribe, such as medical transportation or transportation to a tribal college. Other tribes have worked with non-tribal transit programs to coordinate schedules, allow transfers between systems, or establish a consolidated transit service. The Standing Rock Sioux transit system is operated by Sitting Bull College. The Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Com- munity of Oregon provide transportation primarily by contracting on a government-to- government basis with the Salem Area Mass Transit District and Yamhill County Transit Area. The Coeur dâAlene Tribe in Idaho operates public transit for the urban area of Coeur dâAlene. Fort Belknap joined a regional partnership to provide transit service in North Cen- tral Montana. Cooperation and coordination of services have allowed tribes to pool existing resources and leverage those financial resources to obtain additional funding. Coordinated efforts result in greater efficiency in delivering service and often allow for a greater service area. âNever give in. Be willing to change tactics, but never give up your core purpose.â Jim Collins, How the Mighty Fall
6 developing, enhancing, and sustaining tribal transit services: A Guidebook Participation in State and National Organizations Participation in state, regional, and national organizations such as a state or regional tran- sit association, the CTAA, or the Intertribal Transportation Association (ITA) gives transit staff access to many resources. Tribes that have established successful transit programs often have been involved in these outside organizations. Attendance at conferences and training programs helps tribal transit personnel develop the skills and expertise necessary to oper- ate a good system. These organizations provide access to technical assistance as well. The CTAA and the national Rural Transit Assistance Program (RTAP) have training programs and technical assistance that have benefited many tribes with successful transit programs. Interaction with other transit providers is another benefit of participating in these orga- nizations. The peer-to-peer connections that are established serve as a resource for tribal transit programs to increase expertise and obtain informal assistance. Trained Key Staff It is important to have key staff trained in the skills necessary to operate a transit program. Much of the training can be obtained through participation in state and national organizations. A key area where training is essential is in financial management. When tribes have failed to complete required reporting and draws on grants, this has caused them not to receive funding in subsequent years. The money was being spent, but because FTAâs records did not show that the funds had been used, FTA did not approve additional funding. Budgeting and financial reporting are essential to sustaining a transit program. If costs are not tracked and not known, the necessary revenue may not be available. A thorough understanding of financial management is critical to the long-term sustainability of a tribal transit program. Multiple Funding Sources Sustainability of a tribal transit program is linked directly to funding. The most success- ful tribal transit programs have obtained funding from a variety of sources. If one source of funding is reduced, the program does not suffer as much as if it relied only on that one source. Multiple sources of funding may also provide the opportunity to use some sources as local matching to qualify for other sources of funding. The broader the range of funding sources, the more sustainable the transit program will be. A broad range of funding sources available to tribes is presented in Chapter 8. Advocacy To ensure sustainability of funding and to advocate for tribal transit, it is important to inform and educate policy makers and elected officials about the importance and benefits of transit services. This is important not only at the local level, but also at the state and federal levels. Funding for local transit service often comes from state and federal sources. Tribal officials should be active in ensuring that their representatives are well informed about the needs and benefits of transit. This project led to publication of a booklet, Native Ameri- cans on the Move: Challenges and Successes, and preparation of a PowerPoint presentation, âDeveloping, Enhancing, and Sustaining Tribal Transit Services,â that describe the state of tribal transit programs across the country. Tribes can use the national information and supplement it with information about their local programs to inform the public and elected officials about the need for and the accomplishments of their transit service.