States struggle to fund small urban and rural passenger transportation services that meet the expectation of achieving both efficiency and equity. Typical questions that are asked are:
- When is it more important to add service for a disadvantaged population at the expense of a more efficient urban service?
- When the cost to provide service that meets the needs of a transportation dependent population too much?
- How are changing demographics in rural communities influencing this balance?
- Does a connected network of urban and rural public transportation improve success to meet both goals?
Cost efficiency is a constant question to be answered for leaders and providers of services. A study of practice and analysis of the benefits of connected local rural, urban, and intercity, transit strategies that leverage both economic and social benefits could help address leaders concerns about the higher costs to provide rural services and better inform and balance the small urban and rural strategies that best leverage a network of transportation benefits.
The objectives of this research are to (1) identify and define common transit efficiency and equity goals and measures for small urban and rural systems; (2) compare and analyze transit achievements toward those goals in a sample of select states or areas; (3) assess the efficiency of practice in high density and low density areas and effect on transit dependent population; (4) identify the difference that connected compared to only localized services have toward these goals; (5) report practices of systems that most efficiently meet multiple transit goals or objectives in their higher density and lower density small urban and rural areas.
This results of this research are examples and information that will assist State DOTs to invest successfully in a network of small urban and rural coordinated public transportation that achieves the dual goals of “making the money go as far as possible” and at the same time provide “equity’ mobility options for highly rural, and specially targeted populations.