Innovative rural transit services

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Associations, Case studies, Innovation, Intercity transportation, Literature reviews, Rural areas, Rural transit, State departments of transportation, Surveys, Transit operating agencies


The focus of this synthesis was on transit’s response (including rural intercity bus service) to changing rural community transportation needs. The synthesis placed an emphasis on innovative and/or entrepreneurial spirit, the innovator, and the conditions required for innovation. The unique nature of most rural transit systems requires management to adapt to their specific needs, making innovation important to rural transit. The real innovation appears to be the change and re-invention of the organization to meet ever-changing dynamics in demographics, technology, and economic factors. Most innovators did not realize that what they are doing is innovative. They replied that what they were doing was “just common sense” or “the logical thing to do.” A literature review was conducted; however, overall few publications related directly to rural transit. There are two TCRP reports that provided case studies of innovative systems and included more than 40 innovations. A selected survey of state departments of transportation, state and national associations, as well as rural transit agencies known by the consultant and expert panel to operate innovative service yielded an 82% response rate; 27 of 32 agencies responded. The five case study agencies offer a range of rural transit services from around the country, including large and small-sized systems, as well as FTA Section 5311 (f)-funded intercity services.


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