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Research Project
Opportunities for State DOTs (and others) to Encourage Shared Use Mobility Practices in Rural Areas

The term "shared-use mobility" (SUM) is defined as transportation services that are shared among users, and may include public transit; taxis and limos; bike-sharing, car-sharing, and ridesharing; ride-sourcing/ride-splitting; microtransit services; scooter sharing; shuttle services; neighborhood jitneys; and commercial delivery vehicles providing flexible movement of goods. Public transit is the foundation for much of SUM through publicly owned fleets of buses, trains, ferries, facilities, and right of way, and operating fixed route local and express services. With advances in electronic and wireless technologies and mobile applications on smart phones, SUM has grown tremendously in recent years as a renewed interest in urbanism, environmental concerns, energy conservation, and economic sustainability have fueled demand for sustainable transportation alternatives.

While most of the popular technology-enabled SUM agencies active in larger urban settings are not available in rural areas, some other creative and similar practices are being implemented and experimented with in rural areas. There is a great need to identify and analyze various emerging SUM practices being tested in multiple rural communities across the country to determine if they can augment traditional rural transit service. Also, emerging private SUM agencies may not opt to provide services in rural areas as they may not meet obligations under ADA, environmental justice, equity and accessibility, and other regulations that govern Federal- or state-funded transit. While the current Uber/Lyft business model's application in typical rural communities seems inefficient, lessons learned from partnerships in larger urban settings could be instructive for rural transit agencies (and state DOTs) wanting to establish new partnerships with ride-sourcing companies and implement other SUM practices to supplement and/or complement transit services in rural areas. Also, it is important to study and document how state DOTs can ensure public transit partnerships with ride-sourcing agencies and other SUM practices will ensure ADA compliance and service accessibility for persons with disabilities, seniors, and low income individuals, particularly when SUM practices are used to supplement ADA paratransit services. The objective of this study is to develop a rural SUM best practices tool-kit of selected SUM practices, services, or programs that are applicable to rural settings and provide detailed guidance on the role that government, state DOTs, rural transit agencies, transportation planning agencies, and/or state economic development or small business development agencies will need to play to advance those strategies in rural settings. This study will also develop a similar best practices tool-kit and guidance documents that is relevant and applicable for small urban settings.

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