The National Academies


Innovative Practices for Technology Implementation at Rural, Small, and Mid-Sized Transit Agencies

Posted Date: 1/17/2024

  Project Data
Funds: $350,000
Contract Time: 24 months
(includes 3 weeks for TCRP review and approval of the interim report and 6 weeks for TCRP review and for contractor revision of the final report)
Authorization to Begin Work: 9/30/2024 -- estimated
Staff Responsibility: Mariela Garcia-Colberg
   Phone: N/A
   Email: mgarciacolberg@nas.edu
RFP Close Date: 4/2/2024
Fiscal Year: 2023


The past decade has seen a proliferation of advanced technology used to deliver public transportation services, such as mobility-on-demand mobile applications, real-time bus arrival information, driver-assist/autonomous vehicle functions, and security-related surveillance software. Each technology addresses the real needs of public transportation providers, such as providing increased safety and security or reducing harmful vehicle emissions. However, with each new technology implementation, public transportation agencies face multiple challenges, such as integrating new systems into legacy technology platforms, staff training to utilize new technology capabilities fully, and the ongoing maintenance of the full technology infrastructure at the agency. Additionally, each new technology implementation increases the complexity of the technology ecosystem.

While agencies of all sizes have technology-related challenges, rural, small, and mid-sized agencies are significantly constrained by fewer staff, limited access to technical skills in the workforce, and funding capacity for technology planning, procurement, implementation, utilization, evaluation, and maintenance. Many smaller agencies work in close collaboration with state departments of transportation (DOTs), which typically administer 49 U.S.C. 5311 funding for non-urbanized transportation and the state Rural Technical Assistance Programs. However, not all state DOTs have on-the-ground operational expertise to support smaller agencies as they explore new and innovative technologies.

Smaller transit agencies’ lack of technical and resource capacity can result in underinvestment in technology. On the opposite end of the spectrum, smaller agencies can become overinvested in technology that they struggle to utilize fully or that hurt operations due to system failures, lack of integration with existing systems, or other incompatibilities. There is a need to understand how rural, small, and mid-sized agencies can “right size” the technology suite to meet operational needs and organizational capacity.


The objective of the research is to develop resources for public transportation officials at state DOTs and rural, small, and mid-sized transit agencies to assist agencies in developing a strategy to plan, procure, implement, and maintain transit technologies and ensure their success. 


The TCRP is seeking proposals on how best to achieve the research objective. Proposers are expected to present a research plan that can realistically be accomplished within the constraints of available funds and contract time. Proposals must present the proposers' current thinking in sufficient detail to demonstrate their understanding of the issues and the soundness of their approach to meeting the research objective.

The research shall:

  • Help agencies understand and prioritize their technology needs (operational, organizational);
    • Create a method to identify their needs (short-term, medium-term, long-term, maintenance, inefficiencies, etc.);
    • Identify and summarize existing literature and other resources about the current technological options in public transportation, with a focus on technologies relevant to rural, small, and mid-sized agencies;
    • Identify gaps in the existing literature and resources regarding the full lifecycle of technology management;
  • Propose strategies for ensuring that the implemented solutions meet the unique needs and expectations of the served populations, including engaging local communities in the technology planning and adoption process;
  • Evaluate the appropriate technologies to meet the needs and scales of the operation and types of services;
  • Document strategies that state DOTs and transit agencies have used to prioritize, procure, deploy, and maintain the technologies;
  • Identify best practices and make recommendations for state DOTs and agencies to follow related to needs and risk assessments, procurements, budgeting,  training, implementation, maintenance, data management, and overall organizational capacity-building related to technology and data; and
  • Identify effective methods to deliver, access, and retain technology expertise, especially for agencies that do not have it in-house or need additional support (e.g., help desks for technology, managed services providers, state price lists for technology providers, and shared service contracts).

Proposers should include recommendations for a project approach and deliverables that would support development of strategic action plans state DOTs and transit agencies can use to successfully implement technologies to achieve outcome-based improvements in small, rural, and mid-sized transit agencies.

The research plan shall be divided into tasks that present, in detail, the work proposed in each task. The research plan shall describe appropriate deliverables that include, but are not limited to, the following (which also represent key project milestones):

  • An interim report (i.e., a technical memoranda or report) and panel teleconference, which occurs after the expenditure of no more than 40 percent of the project budget,
  • Draft report,
  • Final report, and
  • Technical memorandum, titled “Implementation of Research Findings and Products” (see special Note K).

The research plan may include additional deliverables as well as additional panel meetings via teleconference.  The research plan shall have a schedule for the project that includes three weeks for panel review of the interim report, three weeks for panel review of the draft final report, and three weeks for contractor revision of the draft final report. 


A. Proposals should demonstrate knowledge relevant to this project and experience dealing with transit technologies.

B. The Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals for the Transportation Research Board’s Cooperative Research Programs were revised in May 2023. Please take note of the new and revised text which is highlighted in yellow.

C. Proposals must be submitted as a single PDF file with a maximum file size of 10 MB. The PDF must be formatted for standard 8 ½” X 11” paper, and the entire proposal must not exceed 60 pages (according to the page count displayed in the PDF). Proposals that do not meet these requirements will be rejected. For other requirements, refer to chapter V of the instructions.

D. The Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals for the Transportation Research Board’s Cooperative Research Programs have been modified to include a revised policy and instructions for disclosing Investigator Conflict of Interest. For more information, refer to chapter IV of the instructions. A detailed definition and examples can be found in the CRP Conflict of Interest Policy for Contractors. The proposer recommended by the project panel will be required to submit an Investigator Conflict of Interest and Disclosure Form as a prerequisite for contract negotiations.

E. Proposals will be rejected if any of the proposed research team members work for organizations represented on the project panel. The panel roster for this project can be found at this link. Proposers may not contact panel members directly; this roster is provided solely for the purpose of avoiding potential conflicts of interest.

F. Proprietary Products - If any proprietary products are to be used or tested in the project, please refer to Item 6 in the Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals.

G. Proposals are evaluated by the TCRP staff and project panels consisting of individuals collectively knowledgeable in the problem area. The project panel will recommend their first choice proposal considering the following factors: (1) the proposer's demonstrated understanding of the problem; (2) the merit of the proposed research approach and experiment design; (3) the experience, qualifications, and objectivity of the research team in the same or closely related problem area; (4) the plan for ensuring application of results; (5) how the proposer approaches inclusion and diversity in the composition of their team and research approach, including participation by certified Disadvantaged Business Enterprises; and, if relevant, (6) the adequacy of the facilities. A recommendation by the project panel is not a guarantee of a contract. The National Academy of Sciences (NAS - the contracting authority for the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine) will conduct an internal due diligence review and risk assessment of the panel’s recommended proposal before contract negotiations continue.

Note: The proposer's approach to inclusion and diversity as well as participation by Disadvantaged Business Enterprises should be incorporated in Item 11 of the proposal.

H. Copyrights - All data, written materials, computer software, graphic and photographic images, and other information prepared under the contract and the copyrights therein shall be owned by the National Academy of Sciences. The contractor and subcontractors will be able to publish this material for non-commercial purposes, for internal use, or to further academic research or studies with permission from TRB Cooperative Research Programs. The contractor and subcontractors will not be allowed to sell the project material without prior approval by the National Academy of Sciences. By signing a contract with the National Academy of Sciences, contractors accept legal responsibility for any copyright infringement that may exist in work done for TRB. Contractors are therefore responsible for obtaining all necessary permissions for use of copyrighted material in TRB's Cooperative Research Programs publications. For guidance on TRB's policies on using copyrighted material please consult Section 5.4, "Use of Copyrighted Material," in the Procedural Manual for Contractors.

I. The text of the final deliverable is expected to be publication ready when it is submitted. It is strongly recommended that the research team include the expertise of a technical editor as early in the project timeline as possible. See Appendix F of the Procedural Manual for Contractors Conducting Research in the Transportation Research Board’s Cooperative Research Program for technical editing standards expected in final deliverables.

J. Proposals should include a task-by-task breakdown of labor hours for each staff member as shown in Figure 4 in the Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals. Proposals also should include a breakdown of all costs (e.g., wages, indirect costs, travel, materials, and total) for each task using Figures 5 and 6 in the brochure. Please note that TRB Cooperative Research Program subawards (selected proposers are considered subawards to the National Academy of Sciences, the parent organization of TRB) must comply with 2 CFR 200 – Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards. These requirements include a provision that proposers without a "federally" Negotiated Indirect Costs Rate Agreement (NICRA) shall be subject to a maximum allowable indirect rate of 10% of Modified Total Direct Costs. Modified Total Direct Costs include all salaries and wages, applicable fringe benefits, materials and supplies, services, travel, and up to the first $25,000 of each lower tier subaward and subcontract. Modified Total Direct Costs exclude equipment, capital expenditures, charges for patient care, rental costs, tuition remission, scholarships and fellowships, participant support costs and the portion of each lower tier subaward and subcontract in excess of $25,000.

K. The required technical memorandum titled “Implementation of Research Findings and Products” should (a) provide recommendations on how to best put the research findings/products into practice; (b) identify possible institutions that might take leadership in applying the research findings/products; (c) identify issues affecting potential implementation of the findings/products and recommend possible actions to address these issues; and (d) recommend methods of identifying and measuring the impacts associated with implementation of the findings/products. Implementation of these recommendations is not part of the research project and, if warranted, details of these actions will be developed and implemented in future efforts.

L. If the team proposes a Principal Investigator who is not an employee of the Prime Contractor, or if the Prime Contractor is proposed to conduct less than 50% of the total effort (by time or budget), then section five of the proposal should include: (1) a justification of why this approach is appropriate, and (2) a description of how the Prime Contractor will ensure adequate communication and coordination with their Subcontractors throughout the project.

M. All budget information should be suitable for printing on 8½″ x 11″ paper. If a budget page cannot fit on a single 8½″ x 11″ page, it should be split over multiple pages. Proposers must use the Excel templates provided in the Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals for the Transportation Research Board’s Cooperative Research Programs

Proposals must be uploaded via this link: https://www.dropbox.com/request/Gn8RHWDIOjdjsO82Vxin 
Proposals are due not later than 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on 4/2/2024.

This is a firm deadline, and extensions are not granted. In order to be considered for award, the agency's proposal accompanied by the executed, unmodified Liability Statement must be in our offices not later than the deadline shown, or the proposal will be rejected.

Liability Statement

The signature of an authorized representative of the proposing agency is required on the unaltered statement in order for TRB to accept the agency's proposal for consideration. Proposals submitted without this executed and unaltered statement by the proposal deadline will be summarily rejected. An executed, unaltered statement indicates the agency's intent and ability to execute a contract that includes the provisions in the statement.

Here is a fillable PDF version of the Liability Statement. A free copy of the Adobe Acrobat PDF reader is available at https://www.adobe.com.

General Notes

1. According to the provisions of Title 49, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 21, which relates to nondiscrimination in federally assisted programs, all parties are hereby notified that the contract entered into pursuant to this announcement will be awarded without discrimination on the grounds of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, or disability.

2. The essential features required in a proposal for research are detailed in the current brochure entitled "Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals". Proposals must be prepared according to this document, and attention is directed specifically to Section IV for mandatory requirements. Proposals that do not conform with these requirements will be rejected.

3. The total funds available are made known in the project statement, and line items of the budget are examined to determine the reasonableness of the allocation of funds to the various tasks. If the proposed total cost exceeds the funds available, the proposal is rejected.

4. All proposals become the property of the Transportation Research Board. Final disposition will be made according to the policies thereof, including the right to reject all proposals.

5. Potential proposers should understand that follow-on activities for this project may be carried out through either a contract amendment modifying the scope of work with additional time and funds, or through a new contract (via sole source, full, or restrictive competition).

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