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Research Projects (2000-01)

Identifying Number


Project Title

Paratransit Coordination for Rural Communities


University of Utah

Principal Investigator(s)

Dr. Peter Martin
University of Utah
Salt Lake City, Utah

External Project Contact

Cindy Johnson
Mobility Works, Inc.
1605 Green River Way
Green River, Wyoming 82935

Project Objective

To install low cost Computer Assisted Dispatching (CAD) at two rural paratransit agencies, and to evaluate the costs and benefits associated with replacing the manual system with the computer support system.

Project Abstract

Rural transit systems need to improve opera ting performance and increase accountability. TCRP Report 53, Figure 2.2, shows that in 1999, 1,074 small urban and rural agencies provided 280,000,000 miles of service. APTA Fact Book 1999 shows 554 agencies provided a much greater number of miles of service in urban areas total 8,278,000,000. The ratio suggests that coordination among rural systems may be one solution for improvement. Better vehicle utilization may also improve the ratio.

The challenges faced by rural mobility managers in delivering coordinated services have been many. One challenge has been the cost/benefits of technology. This demonstration would address the following technology issues:

  • Rural systems have lower access to new technological products and training.
  • Agencies buying rides from mobility managers demand accountability.
  • Cost of Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) systems may be greater than a small system's entire annual budget.
  • How much should be invested in CAD systems by small transit agencies?
  • Institutional change forced by technology.

Task Descriptions

  • Task 1 – Review or develop a low-cost CAD software system.
  • Task 2 – Install CAD system at two rural locations.
  • Task 3 – Evaluate the benefits of a CAD system to the rural systems.
  • Task 4 – Analyze the cost/benefit of CAD in rural locations.
  • Task 5 – Prepare the final report.

Milestones, Dates

  • Starting Date: September 1, 2000
  • Project Milestones:
    • Task 1: October 31, 2000
    • Task 2: November 30, 2000
    • Task 3: December 31, 2000
    • Task 4: January 31, 2001
    • Task 5: February 28, 2001
  • Ending Date: June 30, 2001

Yearly and Total Budget

Federal $20,000
State $24,000

Student Involvement


Relationship to Other Research Projects

The principal investigator is familiar with the CAD products that are currently under development by universities and the private sector, and being used by transit agencies of all sizes.

Technology Transfer Attributes

Installation of the software at two agencies will require training. Also, the results of the study will be published in a final report and a TEL8 seminar will be conducted.

Potential Benefits of the Project

Upgrade the productivity of rural paratransit agencies.

TRB Keywords

Rural transit, Paratransit

NDSU Dept 2880P.O. Box 6050Fargo, ND 58108-6050