The National Academies

NCHRP 20-65/Task 56 [Completed]

Best Practices in Rural Regional Mobility
[ NCHRP 20-65 (Research for the AASHTO Standing Committee on Public Transportation) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $100,000
Research Agency: Cambridge Systematics/KFH
Principal Investigator: Frederic Fravel
Effective Date: 2/3/2015
Completion Date: 7/31/2015


FTA C 9040.1F define public transportation as: “Surface transportation by a conveyance that provides regular and continuing general or special transportation to the public, but does not include school bus, charter, or intercity bus transportation or intercity passenger rail transportation provided by AMTRAK” and defines intercity bus as “regularly scheduled bus service for the general public that operates with limited stops over fixed routes connecting two or more urban areas not in close proximity, that has the capacity for transporting baggage carried by passengers, and that makes meaningful connections with scheduled intercity bus service to more distant points, if such service is available.” The two separate definitions that guide the use of FTA rural transit funds suggest these forms of transit are distinctly different and need to be dealt with accordingly. From a practical perspective, both forms of transit can play a significant role in effective rural regional mobility.
By rural regional mobility, we generally mean intrastate, cross-county transportation such as non-emergency medical trips to regional medical centers and trips to commuting-based colleges. These trips may fall within the gray area between the definition of rural public transportation and rural intercity bus transportation. This gray area may exist because there are routine trips that are too lengthy and time consuming to be cost-effective for local rural demand response providers (supported by Section 5311 funds) while at the same time the trip cannot be effectively met by intercity bus services (supported with Section 5311(f) funds) because the service is too infrequent, has lengthy travel times (with long layovers and multiple transfers) or is too expensive for routine, perhaps daily, trips. See the U.S. Rural Population and Scheduled Intercity Transportation in 2010: A Five-Year Decline in Transportation Access here.
Tools are needed to assist state DOTs with planning and providing efficient rural regional mobility.


The objective of this research is to identify and evaluate practices being used by state DOTs and rural regional planning agencies to plan and provide for rural regional mobility. These practices should meet the FTA definition of “public transportation” or the FTA definition of “intercity bus” and preferably are practices that effectively blend these two modes and are supported with a combination of Section 5311 and 5311(f) funds. Practices that are examples of coordinated public and human services transportation should also be highlighted. If feasible, also evaluate best practices being used by State DOTs in cooperation with urban transit agencies and Metropolitan Planning Organizations to meet regional transit needs that involve moving people between urbanized and rural areas.

 Research completed.

contractor's final report.

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