Resources Needed to Implement Rural Transportation Programs
An important element of implementing any rural transportation program is planning for the resources
and costs needed to use and maintain the various modes of transportation. Resources will need to be
allocated both initially for developing the program as well as for regular maintenance
Costs for maintenance should be estimated upfront if at all possible, including costs for replacing
equipment and infrastructure upkeep. Considering sustainability issues, resources, and necessary
future funding are important components of implementing any program. With an increasing demand for
transit options in rural communities, especially with a growing older adult population, there is a
need for programs to be able to stretch resources to serve more people.
The majority of federal
transportation funding is given to state and local transportation agencies. The Federal Highway
Administration's Federal Lands Highway Program is one
funding source for rural areas that is designated for federal or tribal lands, including national parks and
monuments. The U.S. Department of Transportation also provides Formula
Grants for rural areas, which include the 5311 Rural Formula program, Tribal program, Appalachian
program, and the Rural Transit Assistance Program (RTAP). The Formula Grants program provides funding and
implementation assistance for public transit programs in rural areas with less than 50,000 residents. For
additional information about key considerations for sustainability of rural transportation programs and examples
of federal agencies and programs that provide funding for transportation, see Module
Determining the type of equipment and vehicles for a transportation program will depend on factors such as the
type of program being implemented, the funding structure for the program, the terrain and geographic region, the
purpose of transportation (for example, transportation for medical visits), as well as the population served.
Aside from purchasing equipment for a transportation program, several resources will account for the majority of
expenses. These include:
- Wages of staff
- Benefits for staff such as health insurance
- Maintenance for vehicles and equipment
Depending on the resources available and costs, the program may provide services for a fee, on a sliding-fee
scale, or at no cost.
Fuel and other energy costs should be considered when developing and implementing a
transportation program. Energy resources needed to implement a program can impact the total operating budget.
Transportation programs that operate regularly over long distances in remote regions of the country may
encounter higher energy and fuel costs; however, these costs are an important consideration for any program.
Changing policies and an
increased focus on reducing gasoline emissions may change some of these considerations for
transportation programs over the next several years. For example, national programs are working to make
transportation vehicles, such as trucks and buses, more efficient and less reliant on gasoline.
Resources to Learn More
Effects of Rising Gas Prices on Bus
Ridership for Small Urban and Rural Transit Systems
Details the effect of gas prices on usage of public bus transit in small urban and rural areas.
Information on short and long term effects is included, along with recommendations to alleviate these
effects for program planners.
Author(s): Mattson, J.
Organization(s): Small Urban and Rural Transit Center
Guidebook for Rural Demand-Response Transportation: Measuring,
Assessing, and Improving Performance
Assists planners in designing an evaluation of a demand-response transportation program. It includes chapters on
performance measures, collecting data for rural demand-response programs, and recommendations on improving
Author(s): Ellis, E. & McCollom, B.
Organization(s): The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
Guidebook: Managing Operating Costs
for Rural and Small Urban Public Transit Systems
Outlines best practices for operating transit systems in rural and small urban areas, giving special attention
to financial sustainability of the program and methods to increase productivity of the system.
Author(s): Edrington, S., Brooks, J., Cherrington, L., Hamilton, P., Hansen, T., Pourteau,
C., & Sandidge, M.
Organization(s): Texas A&M Transportation Institute
Planning for an Uncertain Energy Future: Creating a Resilient Transportation System for the Monadnock
Provides information on creating a transportation system that can withstand changes to energy costs and
availability. It includes guidance on improved land use planning, parking management, and increasing access to
alternative transportation options.
Organization(s): Southwest Region Planning Commission
Blueprint: Efficient Transportation for America
Outlines recent innovations in energy efficiency across transportation systems that will benefit the
environment, lower travel times, and reduce consumption of petroleum.
Organization(s): U.S. Department of Transportation