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19 Introduction The original study scope called for a categorization of states in relation to their level of rural regional mobility. The study team first reviewed data collected and published by the Rural NTD as well as the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) to determine whether these resources have data relevant and applicable for categorizing states. Given that this review and assessment found limits to published data for purposes of categorization, the study team developed an alter- native approach and used it to help identify case studies of rural regional services. A review of the available data sources, the alternative approach, and the selection of case studies are presented in this chapter. Published Data In order to categorize or classify the states in terms of their level of rural regional mobility, the initial effort focused on national data collected using a consistent set of definitions. The major source of data for rural transit systems is FTAâs Rural National Transit Database. Data from the BTS was also reviewed for this purpose. Rural NTD The Rural NTD requires states to collect and report specified data and information for their Section 5311 subrecipients. The latter include a range of organizations: public entities such as small cities and counties, private non-profit agencies, intercity bus services, and rural services provided by tribal organizations. The subrecipients provide specified data annually, reporting on the types of services provided, vehicles, operating data (miles and hours), and passenger trips, among other data elements. How- ever, there is no other data classification that would allow a compilation of the subset of miles, hours, vehicles, and passenger trips provided on regional services. The one relevant data element in the Rural NTD for purposes of identifying regional transit services is type of service area. Using a drop-down menu, each subrecipient identifies its service area as one of the following: â¢ County/independent city, â¢ Multi-county/independent city, â¢ Multi-state, â¢ Reservation, or â¢ Other. C h a p t e r 3 Identification of Case Studies
20 Best practices in rural regional Mobility If the service area is multi-county or multi-state, the subrecipient then lists the specific juris- dictions in the service area. Subrecipients that serve multi-county or multi-state areas may or may not provide regional transit services. However, the data does not provide information on whether the services pro- vided are regional, which destinations are served, or the level of service provided (e.g., days of the week that service is provided, hours of service, or number of round trips). As shown in Appendix A, the data can be used to identify, by state, the number of rural transit systems with multi-county and multi-state service areas and the number of intercity bus services receiving Section 5311(f) funding as well as the proportion of each going to the statesâ total Sec- tion 5311 subrecipients. The data is not sufficiently detailed to effectively categorize states as to their level of rural regional mobilityâone could make assumptions that more multi-county operations and more intercity bus projects are indicative of greater rural regional mobility, but that would be a significant leap from the available data. Bureau of Transportation Statistics The BTS collects and reports on transportation data to help advance the federal DOTâs strategic goals. Among the BTS resources is the Intermodal Passenger Connectivity Database, with infor- mation on 7,000 rail, air, bus, and ferry passenger terminals that can be used to assess the degree of intermodal connectivity in the passenger transportation system. The database identifies, by state, the number of intermodal facilities that enable passengers to transfer from one mode of public transportation to another. The BTS refers to an intermodal facility as a âkey building block for developing connectivity.â The study team assessed data elements in this database that measure, by state, the number of passenger facilities in both urban and rural areas with intercity bus service, with local bus service, and the number of facilities that serve both. Appendix B shows this data. The database identifies facilities that have both intercity bus and local bus services, and one might surmise from this that the services could be connected from a schedule perspective; however, the data does not provide any information about the type of local bus service or the extent of rural regional service provided by the bus service. As in the case of the Rural NTD, the data is not sufficiently detailed for categorizing states as to their level of rural regional mobility. State Program Data Recognizing that there is no national database that collects information on the availability of regional services, the study team considered that perhaps individual states collected data on subrecipient services that could be used to identify regional services. Some states publish annual reports that document all their subrecipients in detail regarding funding sources, types of service provided, fleet size, operating statistics, and (sometimes) performance. It was thought that perhaps one or more individual states would have compiled information on subrecipient services that would help define rural regional services, assist in identifying potential case studies, or provide some model for future research or data collection. However, even in states that have identified rural regional services as a need or priority, there is very little information collected that reflects a concern for rural regional mobility. For example Minnesotaâs 2016 Transit Report: A Guide to Minnesotaâs Public Transit Systems includes data on areas served that may list more than one jurisdiction, but does not include a specific description of services beyond service type (demand response, deviated route, fixed route). In the Highlights section for each pro- vider, some providers mention services that may be regional in nature, but there is no defini- tion of regional service that could be applied as a classification. The 2015 Summary of Public
Identification of Case Studies 21 Transportation Report prepared by the transit program in Washington State also provides a very complete overview of the stateâs transit systems. Sections in each systemâs overview include cur- rent operations, which may or may not describe services that are regional in nature. A separate section in each system overview includes the intermodal connections provided by that system, which could be evaluated to determine if the connecting services are regional in nature. Oregon DOT provides funding to collect and update General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) data for all providers in the state, and the data is used to provide a library of all transit routes in the state as GIS shapefiles. Together with the GTFS data, which includes schedule information, this would allow one to compile a list of rural regional services, however that list is not developed or provided by the state. A review of a number of other state transit annual reports revealed that in general the inventory of transit services is structured around federal funding programs, includes funding information, has operating statistics, and may include a map or list of the service area of each system (usually defined in terms of counties or municipalities)âbut does not include information specifically about rural regional transit services or mobility. Classification Characteristics The lack of data on rural regional services at the national or state level is not surprising, given that there is no particular funding associated with that kind of service in the same way there is for the intercity program (Section 5311[f]) funding. Much the same conclusion was reached regarding demand response service as a type of transit by researchers at the Small Urban and Rural Transit Center at North Dakota State University. Their study, Developing a Method for Assessing National Demand-Response Transit Level of Service, found that the key data elements needed to assess the level of service, identify gaps in service coverage, and assess unmet needs are not included in the NTD. Data that would allow the development of service level criteria for demand response service such as geographic coverage, days of service per week, hours per day, advance reservation requirements, and eligibility are not collected, but would be needed to evaluate demand response service levels and compare them among systems, states, or nationally. The situation is much the same for rural regional transit services. In the same way that the North Dakota State University study identified potential factors to be included in a demand response level of service survey tool, the next section presents some factors for rural regional services that could be used as criteria for determining level of service. Their application might initially be a state transit needs study or strategic plan, particularly if public outreach or stakeholder input has identified an unmet need or desire for regional transit services. Rural Regional Transit Service Criteria A methodology for evaluating and classifying rural regional mobility services requires char- acteristics or criteria for the classification that do not exist in any of the available data sources. Ideally, a reporting system would include the following measures to assess existing and potential services: â¢ Service availability, â¢ Access to key destinations, and â¢ Connectivity. It is possible that a number of states that have their own reporting systems could add factors from this list to better describe rural transit services, including those that might be classified as regional. These factors can be used to describe, classify, and compare rural regional mobility services, or as a basis for planning rural regional services.
22 Best practices in rural regional Mobility Service Availability This criterion measures when the rural regional transit service operates in terms of days per week, the time periods when trips are provided, and the length of time the schedule allows a rider to remain at the regional activity center. A rural regional transit service with daily service consisting of multiple round trips throughout the day provides a higher level of service for rural riders than one that operates only on selected weekdays, with a schedule that gives riders just a partial day at the regional activity center. For example, a service that operates every weekday with a schedule that allows a rider to remain at the activity center for at least 9 hours during the day would provide an individual in the rural community the opportunity to have a full-time job with traditional office hours. Service availability has three components: â¢ Day service is provided. Does the service operate every day or less than that? â Weekdays and Saturdays/Sundays, â Weekdays, or â Fewer than 5 days per week. â¢ Service span. Does the schedule of trips allow a rider to access and remain at the regional activity center for less than a full day, for full day of at least 9 hours, or for 1 full day plus evening hours? A transit service with the latter schedule, for example, would provide oppor- tunities for an individual living in a rural area to take night classes at the community college. â Daytime, â Partial day (fewer than 9 hours), â Full day (more than 9 hours), or â Full day and evening. â¢ Number of round trips. Does an individual have only one choice of trips to travel to and from the regional activity center, or does the transit service provide more than one round trip per day of service? â One, â Two to three, or â More than three. Access to Key Destinations This criterion assesses whether the rural regional service provides direct access to key destina- tions at the regional activity center, or if the rider must transfer to some type of local transporta- tion service to get to the desired final destination. The transit service does not control which key destinations are available at the regional activity center, such as a major hospital or VA medical center, intercity bus terminal, or community college, but it does have control over whether it directly serves such destinations. Direct access provides a higher level of service. This criterion could be measured as follows: â¢ Number of key destinations directly served; no transfer required, and â¢ Number of key destinations not directly served; riders must transfer to a local transportation service. Connectivity Connectivity with other transportation modes is an important attribute for rural regional mobility services, expanding travel opportunities for rural residents to travel outside their region.
Identification of Case Studies 23 This criterion has two components: first, measuring whether the rural regional transit service connects with other modes and, second, if there is schedule connectivity, that is, whether the schedules of the two transportation modes are coordinated. â¢ Does the rural regional transit service connect to other modes? If yes, which modes? â¢ Coordination of schedules: If other modes are served, does the rural regional service coordinate its schedule with the other transportation modes and what is the extent of the coordination? â Schedules are not coordinated, â Schedules are coordinated, or â Schedules and transfers are coordinated, with interlined ticketing. (A rider can buy a ticket on the rural regional service that also serves as the ticket for the connecting service.) These factors can be used to be descriptive, and to the extent that different services are identi- fied that have similar characteristics might be used as a basis for a typology (like that developed by Colorado DOT). There is concern about using them as a basis for a ranking or scoring that would imply that one kind of service is better than another because the level and pattern of demand varies so much across the country that the most appropriate level of rural regional service may not rank highly. For example, a very small town in a rural area that is located far from the nearest regional center may not be able to support 7-day a week service, with multiple frequencies to meet employment, educational, and human service needs. It makes more sense to describe the kind of service that is feasible for that environment on a continuum that suggests a path for future development, as opposed to simply ranking less-than-daily service or once-a-day service, as inadequate or poor. Approach to Categorizing States With the limits of published data for the studyâs purposes, the study team had hoped that the level of rural regional mobility in each state could be assessed in two ways: (1) by collecting data on the level of service provided by their rural regional transit services (using the criteria discussed above) and (2) by the support they provide that facilitates the development and opera- tion of rural regional transit services. The plan was to survey the states, ask them to identify rural regional services for case studies, and then apply the criteria to the services. The second type of information the team desired from the states was about the state transit programs, and any poli- cies or programs that had been developed to address regional service. The results of the survey provided some of the desired information, but not in a way that would allow the study team to classify states based on their rural regional mobility. Enough information was provided to allow the development of a general categorization of state program approaches, and to seek case studies of rural regional services in each category. State Policy and Support for Rural Regional Transit Services The literature and the study teamâs experience with rural transit both suggest that states can play a role in improving rural regional mobility. This includes actions such as providing funding and technical support for the planning, development, and operation of the services. The experi- ence in Vermont, for example, demonstrates that state support through policy initiatives can foster rural regional transit and improve mobility for rural residents. Toward this end, the team assessed each case study state as to whether it has any of the following: â¢ Legislation that provides authority for jurisdictions to jointly fund and operate rural regional transit services;
24 Best practices in rural regional Mobility â¢ Funding earmarked for rural regional transit services (either state funds or state priorities for the use of available federal funding); â¢ Technical support to assist jurisdictions to plan and operate rural regional transit; and â¢ State-funded demonstration projects that feature rural regional transit. Survey of the States The study team surveyed state DOTs to obtain information about each stateâs rural regional transit services, asking questions about whether there had been any identified need for regional services, the source of that information, whether or not there were any state programs or policies in support of rural regional services and, lastly, asking the state DOT staff to identify particular rural regional services or operations that could be considered as case studies. The plan was to fol- low up with interviews of the potential case study sites, collecting information about the context and level of service to obtain a sense of the methodology that was followed. A draft survey instrument was developed as a six-question online survey. An initial test of the survey was conducted with two state DOTs. Following the test, the survey was updated signifi- cantly to include more questions to draw out details and identity potential case studies. The final version consisted of six sections based on the initial six questions, with several follow-up ques- tions added to each section. The online survey was designed so that if participants responded ânoâ to the first question in a section, they would be sent to the next section, skipping all of the follow-up questions for that section. Most of the questions were open ended, asking for resources such as transit plans, studies, policies, and initiatives that either identified a need for or supported rural regional transportation in the survey participantâs state. Additional ques- tions asked whether the state or agency had policies or programs supporting regional services, and if so, what they were and how they were implemented. Respondents were also asked to identify systems or services that might be good case studies, along with contact information if available. The final survey included 59 questions. A copy of the questionnaire is included as Appendix C. The survey was designed to use an online survey provider. An introductory email letter and link to the survey site was sent by email to 72 state managers and 54 state Rural Transit Assis- tance Program (RTAP) managers. Recipients were encouraged to forward the survey to regional state managers and others involved in regional transportation. The original invitation was sent in November 2015 with a reminder email sent the following week. Individual correspondence with states continued for some time after the stated closing dates. The reminder also included direction that the survey could be forwarded to regional planning agencies. Thirty-six recipients responded to the survey, representing twenty states. Table 3â1 lists the states and agencies that submitted surveys. Survey Issues The survey responses confirmed that there is not a consistent view of what constitutes rural regional mobility, but it is possible to identify state programs that self-identify as having rural regional mobility as a concern worthy of state policy consideration. Beyond that, in the initial rounds of survey efforts, many states did not respond or did not respond with enough informa- tion to facilitate a determination of whether or not there is a high level of regional mobility or whether or not there are potential âbest practiceâ case studies. In a number of cases, respondents had not understood the focus of the study. Programs or state initiatives known to the study team did not appear among survey responses and required more directed contact.
Identification of Case Studies 25 Based on an analysis of the survey results, it was determined that follow-up calls would be needed to clarify responses, identify states with potential best practices, and obtain more infor- mation from those that had identified potential services as case studies. Many respondents indi- cated that local or regional coordination plans had been done, but it was not clear whether these plans had identified either rural regional needs or rural regional service strategies. Materials were reviewed and follow-up calls made to see if the responses referenced rural regional needs or services beyond the demand response provision of Medicaid NEMT. Many survey participants provided links to or titles of statewide transit plans and additional contacts as resources to investigate rural regional transportation in their states. However, upon review of these reports or documents, in many cases, there was little additional information about Table 3â1. States responding to the survey. State Number of Surveys Submitted Agency Completing the Survey AK 1 Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities AL 1 Alabama Department of Transportation GA 1 Georgia Department of Transportation IA 1 Iowa Department of Transportation IN 1 Indiana Department of Transportation KS 1 Kansas University Transportation Research Center MN 1 Minnesota Department of TransportationâOffice of Transit MT 1 Montana Department of Transportation NC 1 North Carolina Department of TransportationâPublic Transportation Division ND 1 North Dakota Department of TransportationâTransit Program Manager NE 1 Nebraska Department of Roads NM 1 New Mexico Department of Transportation OH 11 Marion Area Transit, Huron County Transit, Seneca County Agency Transportation, City of Ashland, City of Sidney/Shelby Public Transit, Lancaster- Fairfield Public Transit, City of Bowling Green, HAPCAP, Community Action Committee of Pike County, MVRPC, Crawford County Council on Aging OR 2 Oregon Department of Transportation, Rail and Public Transit Division PA 1 Lower Anthracite Transit System SD 4 South Dakota Department of Transportation, River Cities Public Transit, Brookings Area Transit Authority, Inc., Arrow Public Transit, Inc. TN 1 Tennessee Department of Transportation UT 1 Utah Department of Transportation VA 1 Department of Rail and Public Transportation WI 3 Wisconsin Department of Transportation, City of Prairie du Chien (SMRT Busâ three county system), Merill Transit System
26 Best practices in rural regional Mobility rural regional needs included or about rural regional services that might be good case studies. The interviews did lead to additional issues regarding identifying differences in rural regional mobility and identifying potential case studies: â¢ A number of reported examples of rural regional services subsequently turned out to be provi- sions of longer distance human service trips on a demand response basis. For example, a rural provider providing a NEMT trip on an exclusive demand response basis rather than a regional service offered on a scheduled basis and open to the general public. â¢ Some potential examples were determined to be crossing county lines within or between urbanized areas (funded by Section 5307) rather than either connecting rural areas to urban- ized or being provided entirely within rural areas (eligible for Section 5311 funds). â¢ Some potential case studies were Section 5311(f) funded services that the study team classified as intercity, rather than regional, based on schedules that did not permit a same-day return trip or were clearly designed to make connections with the national intercity network without regard to other trip needs. The team also identified a number of case studies that utilize Section 5311(f) funding, make intercity connections, allow same-day trips, and serve other trip purposes. â¢ In a number of cases, potential case studies of rural regional services are, or have become, ser- vices between Urbanized Areas (UZA) rather than rural services (or even services linking non- urbanized to urbanized areas). Following the 2010 Census many non-urbanized areas were reclassified as UZAs, or were added to UZAs, and services linking them are not rural in the sense that operations between them can be (or are) funded with FTA Section 5311 program funds. Even though some of these services originally could be described as rural, or were nominated by states or their own management as potential case studies, they have not been included. Many appear to offer relevant models, and are more productive due to the higher ridership between larger population centersâbut the point of this project is to look at rural regional services. There was some difficulty narrowing the study enough to focus specifically on rural regional services, identifying cases that would enable identification of best practices, and shaping a study that fit within the resources available. It should be noted that the study team did not receive responses from many states, even after follow up, and it is understood that there may be other examples of rural regional service that would meet the scope of this study. State Programs, Regional Organizations, and Regional Services Another issue in identifying best practices is the overlap between policy efforts to create regional administrative structures or organizations and regional services. Regional organiza- tions can more easily create and support regional services; however, regional services can be developed and implemented without necessarily having regional organizations. Given the defi- nition of rural regional transit services adopted for this study, this step in the research process determined (a) whether the services identified by the state agencies were open to the general public on a scheduled basis, (b) whether they were provided by regional entities or not, and (c) if services were implemented by a regional organization, how that organization supported the development of regional services. A typology of state roles regarding rural regional services would likely include three general classifications: â¢ Top-DownâStates that have done state-level analyses and implemented regional services directly or mandated them in some way. â¢ Bottom-UpâStates that have identified a need for regional cooperation and are providing encouragement and support for local efforts (e.g., by providing technical assistance, funding for feasibility studies, funding for transition costs, or incentive funding for implementation
Identification of Case Studies 27 of regional services). States may focus their efforts on creating regional organizations or on regional services. â¢ PermissiveâState transit programs that have not identified a particular need or benefit for regional organizations or services and are therefore not addressing rural regional needs in any specific way. These states may well see the level of demand for regional connections as being met by demand response rural services that cross county lines (likely providing human service trips such as medical trips) and by rural intercity services. In addition, there are examples of states that combine approaches. Kansas has legislatively mandated rural regional transit organizations, but is incentivizing rural regional services as a potential strategy that may be implemented by regional organizations. The case studies were selected to include examples representing all three kinds of state policy response. Selection of Case Studies The information collected through the survey process and through additional efforts was used to identify case studies. Case studies have the following characteristics: â¢ Provide examples of all three state program/policy types; â¢ Include services that are provided by a variety of organizations, such as states, private non-profit providers, tribal entities, and local public transit providers (both local and regional entities); â¢ Illustrate the use of a variety of funding sources; â¢ Include services designed to serve multiple trip purposes; and â¢ Include services that are operated with Section 5311(f) intercity funding and make intercity connections, but also address rural regional needs. Figure 3â1 provides a map of the case study states, Table 3â2 presents an overview of the case study sites in terms of these selection factors, and Table 3â3 provides a more detailed summary of the state program context, the local case study example, and the rationale for including it as a case study. Not all of the states/systems that responded to the survey are included in the final list Figure 3â1. Map of case study states.
"T op D ow n" "B ott om -U p" "P er m iss iv e" Im pl em en te d Pl an ne d S. 5 31 1( f) Tr ib al St at e In ce nti ve s O th er U ni qu e Ci ty o r C ou nt y Pr iv at e N on -P ro ï¬t Co nt ra ct In te rc ity Re gi on al P ub lic Si ng le E nti ty M ul tip le E nti tie s State Operator is a: State Role Service Service Funding Mix Includes: Operator Type California Lake Transit Authority Colorado South Central Council of Governments Iowa Dennison to Storm Lake Commuter Kansas Flint Hills Area Transportation Agency Maine ShuttleBus-Zoom Intercity/Portland Michigan Alger County Transit Minnesota Central Community Transit Montana Flathead Transit and North Central Montana Transit New Mexico North Central Regional Transit District Oregon North by Northwest Connector Network (ï¬ve systems) Vermont LINK regional commuter services (four operators) Wisconsin Scenic Mississippi Regional Transit Table 3â2. Case study overview.
Identification of Case Studies 29 State Rural Regional Policies Recommended Case Study Rationale California California state law facilitates creation of JPAs (for many purposes, including public transportation) allowing public entities to jointly create agencies to address public purposes. As a result there are many rural regional transit authorities. At the same time there are no legal barriers that prevent an agency from serving points outside its base jurisdiction. Lake Transit Authority is a JPA that includes Lake County and the Cities of Clearlake and Lakeport. It operates public transit throughout Lake County and has developed connecting rural regional intercity routes that link key points in Lake County with Napa and Mendocino Counties. Lake Transit Route 7, Route 4, and Route 1 are funded with FTA Section 5311(f) rural intercity funds. They cross county lines to connect with transit systems in the other counties and with Greyhound. Rural transit system providing regional routes that cross county lines, serve multiple markets (students, workers, medical, and intercity connections) utilizing local, state, and Section 5311(f) funding. Colorado Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) conducted a regional and intercity bus plan in 2014 and is completing an update of this plan. Both documents and the recent statewide transit plan identified needs for a statewide coordinated network that includes intercity bus services, regional commuter services, rural regional services (lower frequencies in more rural areas), and essential mobility services (infrequent or demand response specialized services). CDOT has used Section 5311(f) funding to address gaps in service provided by private intercity carriers, has implemented regional express buses (branded as Bustang) in three corridors focused on Denver, and is in the implementation planning stage for multiple corridors of rural regional service. Planning and implementation activities for rural regional services as called for in the regional and intercity bus planning process, following the model established by the stateâs Bustang commuter service. The next phase of the plan involves development of regional services allowing day trips from rural locations to regional centers for medical, personal business, and intercity connections. Existing rural regional service operated by South Central Council of Governments (SCCOG) from Trinidad to Pueblo is under consideration for development into a state-supported rural regional service. The case study would examine current SCCOG services and issues involved in expanding its market emphasis. Example of a state taking the initiative to design, fund, and implement rural regional services as part of an overall plan for a coordinated statewide transit network. Identifies service and funding issues for an existing rural regional service that has a primary focus on human service. Expands to include more general public usage and intermodal connections. Iowa Iowa has a long history of regionalizing its transit services, beginning in 1976. Iowa has 99 counties divided into 16 regions. Within each region, a designated transit system or agency is responsible for administering and providing transit service. Service within each of the 16 regions is demand response transportation (DRT). County governments decide on the level of service within their county. The transit systems operate regional services within their regions, but region-to-region services are limited. A recent example of the development of a rural regional service is the planning and funding for Denison to Storm Lake Commuter Service in Region 12. An employer moved its plant to another county, and regional transit service was proposed to link previous employees with new jobs. The service is planned to serve approximately 72 employees. A unique combination of funding will support the service. The stateâs Economic Development Authority is funding 50%, Monogram Foods is funding 25%, and rider fares are expected to support the remaining 25% of operating expenses. The project is funded but operations have not yet begun. Demonstrates process for identifying particular rural regional need, identifying stakeholders, developing a service plan, and obtaining funding from sources other than normal transit programsâwhich may be required to implement other rural regional services. Kansas In 2010, the stateâs Transportation Works for Kansas (T-WORKS) legislation provided a significant increase in state transit funding linked to a restructuring of statewide transit into a regional structure that would form the basis for future transit development. Kansas DOT (KDOT) subsequently implemented the regional structure through development of a statewide business plan, the KDOT Regional Transit Business Model Implementation Plan. The regions are designed to implement several key strategies, including the development of regional services. A subsequent refinement is now restructuring the state into 10 Coordinated Transit Districts. The program provides for additional state funding for vehicle capital to operate regional services, scheduling and dispatching technology, and Mobility Management. The Flint Hills Area Transportation Agency (ATA) is a private non-profit transit agency that has taken a lead role in developing regional services connecting the City of Manhattan with neighboring counties, implementing a key strategy of the KDOT regionalization initiative. Originally service was focused on the City of Manhattan and Riley County, but regional expansion has added service to the Green Valley and St. George areas of Pottawatomie County; Fort Riley; and Geary County including Junction City, Grandview Plaza, and Milford. Because Manhattan is now an Urbanized Area, ATA will be using Section 5307 funding to support services in the urbanized area, and Section 5311 funding for rural regional services. Using state funding intended to support development of regional services, Flint Hills ATA hired a mobility manager and purchased new vehicles to expand routes across county lines. It represents the most highly developed implementation of the KDOT rural regional organizational model. Table 3â3. State programs, case studies, and the rationale for inclusion. (continued on next page)
30 Best practices in rural regional Mobility Maine MaineDOT is required by state law to divide Maine into geographic regions for the purpose of coordinating and providing public transit. It has designated 8 transit regions, 9 regional transit providers, and 2 additional providers within existing regions. Rural regional needs were identified in the recently completed Maine Strategic Transit Plan 2025 and in the 8 regional Local Coordinated Plans. MaineDOT provides funding for rural regional transit services including state funds for local match. It also provides technical support and funding for demonstration projects. MaineDOT provides funding support for 2 private sector intercity services (Bangor to Caribou and Calais to Bangor), as well as one public sector service (Biddeford-Saco-Old Orchard Beach to Portland). One of the designated regional transit providers, the Biddeford-Saco-Old Orchard Beach Transit Committee, operating as ShuttleBus-Zoom, provides rural regional services from Old Orchard Beach into Portland. The Zoom Turnpike Express starts in Biddeford and travels to Portland via I-95, with stops at park and ride locations along the way. Service is weekday only, peak hourâpeak direction. In addition, ShuttleBus-Zoom recently implemented its Intercity/Portland service, providing local service from Biddeford, Saco, Old Orchard Beach, and Scarborough using local roads. The Portland/Intercity service utilizes Greyhound in-kind match and Section 5311(f) funding, and offers interline ticketing with Greyhound (and the national interline system). It operates 7 days per week, with up to 7 trips per day on weekdays. Stops in Portland include the Greyhound terminal and the airport. ShuttleBus-Zoom has developed a rural regional service that addresses needs for express commuter services and local service directly to towns off the interstate, utilizing Section 5311(f) intercity funding and in-kind match to address a variety of rural regional travel needs. Michigan Michigan DOT was one of the first to support rural intercity bus service beginning with a state- funded program. The intercity network continues today as one kind of connection between regions. Often these services are scheduled to provide connections in major urban areas and do not meet needs for connections from rural areas to regional centers at times that allow for a work trip or a same-day trip for a medical appointment. There are a large number of rural county and city systems, however, few have developed regional links to cross county lines. The Michigan DOT approach to development of regional services has been permissive, allowing local initiatives and providing technical assistance. Previous feasibility studies for regional services in the Upper Peninsula and western Michigan identified a number of issues in developing regional service. One example of a rural regional service that has developed is the regional service operated by Alger County Transit (ALTRAN). ALTRAN is the public transit operated in Alger County, providing local countywide dial-a-ride service and also operating a weekday rural regional route from Harvey and Munising in Alger County to the regional center of Marquette, in the neighboring county. There are three scheduled round trips per day, at times that would permit work trips or medical appointments. The service also carries packages. ALTRAN also provides Backpacker service for recreational trips. Will focus on development of a rural regional service in Michigan with particular attention to identification of the potential market, funding, and organizational support for regional service, and its relationship to other transit services in the region. Minnesota The Minnesota Department of Transportationâs (MnDOTâs) Office of Transit conducted the Greater Minnesota Transit Investment Plan in 2011. This led to the Transit For Our Future Initiative to help Sections 5311 and 5307 transit providers implement the Three Cs: Coordination, Cooperation, and Consolidation. MnDOT developed a manual providing a menu of potential regional coordination actions, along with training and technical assistance. The initiative provides incentive funding for the operation of regional services, technical assistance, and transition costs. Much of the emphasis has been on the advantages of regionalizing (e.g., sharing administrative, capital, or technology costs); however, studies have addressed the potential for regional services. The initiative provided funding for several regional coordination plans and market The case study focuses on the state program initiative, combined with a more detailed look at the status of implementation. One of the first results of the state initiative is the merger of 2 rural systems, Kandiyohi Area Transit and Renville County Heartland Express to form Central Community Transit (CCT) in January 2015. CCT Bus provides transportation for all of Kandiyohi County and Renville County residents with a fleet of 21 buses and over 50 volunteer drivers throughout the 2 counties. A majority of the transition cost was covered by a grant from MnDOT under the initiative. CCT regional services are currently provided as demand response service, with current route deviation routes in Kandiyohi County. A second element of the case study is Addresses development of a state program to facilitate and incentivize development of rural regional systems by providing guidance, tools, and technical assistance encouraging local systems to increase regional collaboration without state imposition of a regional structure or direct state implementation of regional services. State Rural Regional Policies Recommended Case Study Rationale Table 3â3. (Continued).
Identification of Case Studies 31 assessments. All projects must demonstrate partnerships among one or more established public transit systems. MnDOT support for the Southeast Minnesota Travel Study due to be completed in March 2016. This project is evaluating the need for intercounty travel in an 11-county region of southeast Minnesota. In addition, there have been 2 other regional coordination studies. Montana Montana Department of Transportation (MDOT) administers the federal rural transit programs in the state. MDOTâs federally mandated statewide transportation plan, TranPlan 21, addresses public transportation. The most recent version (from 2008) notes a decline in intercity bus service and the consequent need for regional connections. A statewide intercity bus plan completed in 2012 further analyzed the need for such service focusing on the need for intercity services that would make stops in the state during daylight hours when local transit providers could provide connections. It also developed criteria for identifying unmet needs, which could be used in evaluating funding requests for rural intercity services. Subsequent regional planning efforts identified needs for regional connections which led to the development of two rural regional (intercity) routes that utilize Section 5311(f) funding. Flathead Transit. Flathead Transit is a service of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes with daily passenger service between Missoula and Whitefish. This service connects with Greyhound, Amtrak, and local and regional services in Missoula. The project is being funded by MDOT and is matched with Greyhound miles. The transit program logs in 632,256 annual vehicle revenue miles and 44,540 riders. North Central Montana (NCM) Transit. NCM Transit is a public transportation system designed to serve the Hi-Line communities of Hill and Blaine Counties and surrounding communities and provide coordinated services with the Fort Belknap and Rocky Boy Transit systems. NCM Transit is operated by Opportunity Link, Inc. It was established in partnership with North Central Montana area organizations, including local and tribal government agencies, social service organizations, and educational institutions. Both of these transit systems are good examples of the coordination and support needed to provide regional linkages. They have developed these services working with multiple community players, including tribal and local government, community organizations, private intercity transit, social services agencies, and educational institutions. The services are provided in a very low-density region where distances to basic services are long, and could provide a model for low-demand regional service. New Mexico Regionalization is allowed through state legislation, with additional legislative authority provided to RTDs to increase local taxes to help fund the RTD with voter approval. The state is supportive and provides technical assistance as well as state planning funds. As of 2012, New Mexico has 4 RTDs, 2 of which have voted on an increase to the gross receipts tax (GRT). Within the service area of regional transit districts, they are responsible for identifying and implementing regional services. New Mexico DOTâs Transit and Rail Division has developed and implemented regional services, including a commuter rail line (Rail Runner) and a network of regional commuter buses (Park and Ride service). North Central Regional Transit District (NCRTD) is made up of 4 counties, 4 cities, and 6 tribal entities. The first of the stateâs regional authorities to be formed, it directly provides services on 20 routes across the region. As a regional entity, it provides funding for regional services delivered by local systems in Santa Fe and Los Alamos. The NM Rail Runner Express is an additional means of providing regional connectivity. The case study would examine the role of NCRTD in developing and delivering rural regional services, as well as supporting regional routes delivered by other entities. The NMDOT Park and Ride express network will be included in the case study as an example of rural regional services directly provided by a state DOT. Illustrates the ability of a regional entity to develop and implement regional services within a region, with additional connectivity provided by services developed and implemented by the state DOT. Also demonstrates the role of regional taxation authority in enabling the creation of a largely rural regional transit system. Oregon Although Oregon DOT (ODOT) does not have an initiative or program specifically aimed at development of rural regional organizations or services, a new program, the Transit Network Program, uses Section 5311(f) and other funds to provide grant funding for projects that improve the utility, efficiency, and safety of Oregonâs transit network. ODOT uses GTSF data from 62 providers and open source software developed by Oregon State University to identify âkey transit hubsâ where three or more fixed route transit services connect. Investments are prioritized in these hubs. The Transit Network Program encourages collaboration and coordination between transit services, and investments in passenger information systems, planning, The North by Northwest Connector Network (NNC) comprises 5 local transit systems, partnered to develop and sustain a multi- county regional network. The project began with a $3.5 million U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) grant and is defined by a regional intergovernmental agreement. Partner agencies jointly apply for funding and share administrative costs. The project has included development of regional routes by modifying local services and providing quality transfer points at major stops where riders could make scheduled connections. New services have been combined under a common brand which is incorporated into existing agency brands, Would be a good example of multiple partners collaborating, including public advocacy for funding. Unique funding from a 3-year demonstration grant from the U.S. DOE through its Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program to create the North by Northwest Connector, an initiative to connect county- based operations. Another unique aspect of this initiative was the marketing to and providing services for tourists. State Rural Regional Policies Recommended Case Study Rationale Table 3â3. (Continued). (continued on next page)
32 Best practices in rural regional Mobility of case studies. In some of the case studies, the stateâs programs and policies are a main focus, with an example of a rural regional service in that state. In other case studies, there is no particu- lar state support or initiative regarding rural regional transit services, but at the local (regional) level entities have planned or implemented rural regional services that fit within the study focus. Identification of Case Studies Bibliography Godavarthy, R., Mattson, J., Nichols, P., Peterson, D., and Hough, J. Developing a Method for Assessing National Demand-Response Transit Level of Service. North Dakota State University, Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute, Small Urban and Rural Transit Center, Fargo, North Dakota, October 2015. https://www.nctr.usf.edu/ wp-content/uploads/2015/11/21177060-NCTR-NDSU06.pdf. State Rural Regional Policies Recommended Case Study Rationale Northwest Connector is five transit systems that developed a regional network with special branding, utilizing (in part) Section 5311(f) intercity funding provided by ODOT. multiple types of riders, and strategic partners include 2 tribal confederations; an urbanized area transit system; Greyhound; Amtrak and its thruway bus system; and local towns that are supporting improved pedestrian access and stops. contracted gap-filling services (the POINT network) and funding for locally/regionally developed regional services. The North by bus pass is available, supporting travel in the region between Willamette Valley and the coast. Services are designed to attract needs, from essential options to reach employment or health care, to tourists looking for a way to reach key destinations along the coast or in the valley, and college students and faculty living less dependently on private automobile ownership. Vermont Following the reduction of intercity services previously provided by Vermont Transit Lines, Inc., and in response to a growth in long- distance commuting, the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) worked with public transit providers to develop a network of regional connectors timed to link smaller towns with major employment centers. VTrans provided start-up funding using CMAQ funds. After 3 years, continuation funding from the state was provided, based on successful operation as measured against VTrans performance measures. They have been included in the base operations of each of the providers, which are funded by a combination of local funds, state transit funding, federal Section 5307/Section 5311 funding, and other sources. Other regional services have also been developed connecting rural points to employers in larger cities. The case study includes the stateâs role in funding and planning regional services, and the local providers of the service. These include the stateâs urbanized provider, Chittenden County Transit Authority (CCTA) and rural providers Addison County Transportation Resources, Inc. (ACTR), Green Mountain Transit Authority (GMTA), and Rural Community Transportation, Inc. (RCT). Services are branded as LINK schedules (one route is branded as the Route 2 Commuter). Routes connect Middlebury and St. Albanâs to Burlington, Burlington to Waterbury and Montpelier, and St. Johnsbury to Barre and Montpelier. Schedules are designed to address commuter needs. Some services are operated jointly, with each partner operating particular trips, while others are entirely provided by a single operator. These services demonstrate how separate rural systems can work together to provide rural regional commuter services without having to create a regional entity. The services demonstrate different methods of sharing operations while maintaining unique fare structures. The role of the state in using CMAQ funding to support development of the network is also important. Wisconsin WisDOT administers federal transit programs and provides funding to local rural transit projects and for Section 5311(f) rural intercity services. There is no regulatory barrier to developing rural regional services, and rural regional needs have been identified in local coordination plans. WisDOT has provided support for one particular three-county rural regional system, the Scenic Mississippi Regional Transit (SMRT) system, in southwest Wisconsin. To retain and expand local businesses, the City of Prairie du Chien worked with surrounding communities to obtain WisDOT funding for a regional transit system feasibility study. The addition of other counties and agencies led to an expansion of the focus of service to include a number of trip purposes. After some setbacks in initiating service, the SMRT system now uses three buses to provide five round trips per day on three regional routes that cross county lines linking key destinations across the region. State and federal funding is critical, but there is also local funding and financial support from private sector business partners. Documents local identification of a need for regional connections in a rural area, development of regional support through a feasibility study, and implementation of a regional service that connects large employers, major shopping areas, educational institutions, and medical facilitiesâaddressing both work trip needs and senior transportation needs. services, mobility management, technology, and passenger amenities. ODOT supports state- but has not replaced them. There has been coordination of fares and a regional visitor The CONNECTOR appeals to a wide array of travel Table 3â3. (Continued).
Identification of Case Studies 33 Kansas Department of Transportation, Office of Public Transportation. KDOT Regional Transit Business Model Implementation: Guidelines for Transitioning to the New CTD Boundaries. Final Report, April 21, 2015. https://www.ksdot.org/Assets/wwwksdotorg/bureaus/burTransPlan/pubtrans/pdf/Regional%20-%20 CTD%20Transition%20Guidelines.pdf. Minnesota Department of Transportation. 2016 Transit Report: A Guide to Minnesotaâs Public Transit Systems. St. Paul, January 2011. http://www.dot.state.mn.us/transit/reports/investmentplan/pdf/2011%2002%20 10%20Final%20Investment%20Plan.pdf. Peter Schauer Associates et al. Maine Strategic Transit Plan 2025: Transforming Public Transit, Meeting Future Needs, and Managing Expectation and Resources. Final Report, Augusta, June 30, 2015. http://www.maine.gov/ mdot/planning/docs/FinalStrategicPlan.pdf. SRF Consulting Group, Inc. Greater Minnesota Transit Investment Plan 2010â2030. Minnesota Department of Transportation, Office of Transit, St. Paul, February 2011. http://www.dot.state.mn.us/transit/reports/ investmentplan/pdf/2011%2002%2010%20Final%20Investment%20Plan.pdf. Washington State Department of Transportation, Public Transportation Division. 2015 Summary of Public Transportation, Olympia, December 2016. http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/publications/fulltext/LegReports/ 15-17/2015PublicTransportationSummary.pdf.