Research Archive


Advances in computers, telecommunications, and information system technologies have led to the development of a wide range of applications that can improve the efficiency and quality of service for all forms of transportation, including public transit. These Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) applications have been widely applied to the highway system, and are being used by an increasing number of urban, small urban, and rural transit systems throughout the U.S.

Many U.S. transit systems are being held back from full implementation of their ITS applications. This is often due to a lack of coordination and an unwillingness to change on the part of transit agencies. Identifying transit systems that have implemented ITS technologies successfully, investigating their ability to coordinate different ITS applications, and documenting their process for creating a mobility management system for providing community oriented transportation services will provide a better understanding of the issues and requirements for implementing such systems, and supply a benchmark for other transit agencies to work towards.

Through this study, transit system operators will become informed of ITS choices available to them, and be able to understand how to implement community oriented transportation using the mobility management concept. This technical assistance is necessary as America will see a doubling of its 65 and older demographic by the year 2030. Many members of this older demographic will demand efficient transportation services as they switch from driving their own vehicles and rely on transit and other sources of transportation for their mobility needs.

Scope of Requirements

The grantee will identify, analyze, and discuss the technical and institutional issues, requirements, benefits, lessons learned, and agreements / arrangements made among transportation providers and funding agencies in implementing and operating coordinated community oriented transportation services, using ITS, for the following three agencies/locations: 1) Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART) in Southeastern Michigan, 2) Kearney, Nebraska, and 3) the State of North Dakota. The grantee will examine and discuss the plans for, or process used in, implementing and operating community oriented transportation in these three locations using the mobility management concept. Mobility management is an approach to transportation service development and management that focuses on individualized customer markets and involves establishing a variety of transportation services tailored to meet the needs of those markets. It also entails a responsibility for establishing a coordinated service delivery network to achieve connectivity for customers and efficiency for taxpayers. Mobility management includes the coordination of human services transportation. Finally, mobility management encompasses the design and management of the transportation infrastructure so that services developed can perform effectively and efficiently. Mobility management has the following characteristics that distinguish it from traditional transit service development:

  • Disaggregated rather than aggregated transportation service planning
  • Transportation service diversity rather than uniformity
  • Multiple rather than a single transportation provider
  • Service advocate rather than a service provider

Additional information on mobility management can be found from references listed in the in the "Applicable Documents" section of this SOW.

The grantee will develop a report, documenting the findings of these case studies, that can be used by other transportation providers possessing an interest in coordinating human services transportation using ITS and in implementing community oriented transportation using the mobility management concept.

Tasks To Be Performed

Task 1. Review Literature

The grantee research team will review literature on the development, deployment, and operation (if applicable) of ITS enabled community oriented transportation services in the three locations identified above. Literature sources shall include, but not be limited to, the following: reports, white papers, publications, TRIS database, and web sites of trade organizations, such as the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), Community Transportation Association of America (TAA), and ITS America.

Task 1 Deliverable: White paper documenting and summarizing the findings of the literature review

Task 2. Develop Interview Guide

The grantee will create a guide for conducting interviews with personnel from applicable organizations / transportation providers in each of the three designated case study locations. The guide will contain the protocol for conducting the interviews and a series of questions from which to obtain the following information:

  • Technical and institutional issues, requirements, benefits, lessons learned, and agreements / arrangements made among transportation providers and funding agencies in implementing and operating coordinated community oriented transportation services, using ITS
  • Plans for, or process used in, implementing and operating community oriented transportation using the mobility management concept

Specifically, questions may be asked concerning, but not be limited to, the following:

  • ITS technologies implemented
  • Organizations involved, including transportation providers, funding agencies, and human service advocates
  • Technical hurdles and solutions
  • Institutional hurdles and solutions
  • Organizational changes
  • Roles and responsibilities of participating organizations
  • ITS recurring and nonrecurring costs
  • Implementation timeframe
  • Personnel requirements – number and knowledge/skill level
  • Training requirements
  • Disruption to existing systems and operations during implementation
  • Reduced costs
  • Staff time savings
  • Ridership gains
  • Quality of customer service improvements

The grantee will develop the guide with input and approval from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and ITS Joint Program Office (JPO). The guide and questions will be developed taking into consideration information or lack of information obtained from the literature review (e.g., questions would garner information not available in the literature or expand on incomplete information from the literature review). In addition, the grantee will identify the organizations / transportation providers and individuals to interview. The FTA and ITS JPO will provide input and approval on the proposed organizations / transportation providers and interviewees for the interviews.

Task 2 Deliverable: Interview guide containing the interview protocol and questions, and list of proposed organizations / transportation providers and interviewees for the interviews

Task 3. Conduct Interviews and Collect Data

The next phase of the research will be to conduct the interviews and to collect data on the processes that were used, or are planning to be used, and the aspects involved in implementing and operating community oriented transportation services using the mobility management concept. Interviews may be conducted over the telephone or in person.

A rural, small urban, and urban location will be researched to determine differences and similarities among varying demographics. The state of North Dakota has been chosen as the rural location. Kearney, Nebraska has been chosen as the small urban location, and SMART in suburban Detroit, Michigan has been chosen as the urban location to research.

North Dakota has developed a website ( that is a community service directory, which enables parents, youth, and professionals to access information about agency services across the state of North Dakota. went live in spring 2004.[1]

Kearney, Nebraska developed a regional ITS architecture, and implemented mobile data terminals along with an automatic vehicle location system for its transit providers. Kearney's goal is to utilize these and possibly additional ITS technologies to further grow its transit usage, allow for interoperability with other local, state, and federal agencies, and begin a cooperative effort to allow for future implementation of transportation technologies across agency lines.[2]

SMART is among the first transit agencies in the U.S. to deploy ITS technologies within its paratransit operations. SMART implemented both automatic scheduling and dispatch (ASD) software and automatic vehicle location (AVL) with the goal of improving mobility throughout the region in 1997.[3]

In addition to the information outlined in Task 2, information will be obtained from interviews to gain a better understanding of what ITS has done for the operations of individual transportation providers. Managers and various other employees will be questioned about, among other things, how they felt during the ITS implementation phase and whether or not ITS has made their jobs more efficient and manageable as a whole. Also, employees will be able to provide firsthand knowledge as to what other transportation providers can do to mirror their ITS success, or procedures other providers should adopt to avoid the problems that the previous organizations incurred.

Task 4. Analyze Data and Make Recommendations

Data from the interviews will be analyzed to develop case studies for each of the three locations. A synthesis of the data will be performed to develop useful information for communities interested in implementing ITS for the coordination of human services transportation and community oriented transportation using the mobility management paradigm. For each of the three locations, information will be provided on the technical and institutional issues, requirements, benefits, lessons learned, and agreements / arrangements made among transportation providers and funding agencies in implementing and operating coordinated community oriented transportation services, using ITS, and the process used (or planning to be used) in achieving the community transportation vision.

A comparative analysis of the interview data will also be performed within and between the three locations to determine the consensuses, similarities, and differences between the locations and among the organizations / transportation providers interviewed. Different answers to the same line of questioning from employees will give the research team an idea that some levels of operations may be more successful and be may be running more efficiently than others.

Transit agencies around the country will be able to apply the analysis from this research to their own operations and can use the system evaluations as a means of comparison. Based on the results, recommendations will be made on how to successfully implement and operate community oriented transportation services using the mobility management paradigm, and how to build upon or increase productivity from existing ITS applications. The research team will work closely with the researched organizations / transportation providers throughout the project to insure that feasible recommendations are given, and to insure that recommendations will be applicable to other transit agencies and transportation providers.

Task 5. Create Report

Upon completion of Task 4, the grantee will develop a report outline with input from the FTA and ITS JPO. Upon approval of the report outline from the FTA, the grantee will develop a draft case study report based on the results of the literature review and analysis of information obtained from the interviews. The FTA and ITS JPO will then review the draft case study report and provide comments and recommendations. The grantee will then incorporate the comments and recommendations and finalize the case study report. The draft and final reports must be written in plain English and use proper grammar, punctuation, and style. The final report shall meet Section 508 requirements.

Task 5 Deliverables: Report outline, draft case study report, and final case study report that is Section 508 compliant

Task 6. Create Progress Reports

The grantee will prepare and submit a project progress report on a quarterly basis that discusses the significant accomplishments for the time period, identifies project issues/problems and recommended solutions, provides an update of the schedule and budget, and reports travel expenses (if applicable). The grantee shall report any major issues or problems to the FTA project manager as soon as they occur (or are discovered) so that they can be resolved as soon as possible.

Task 6 Deliverable: Quarterly progress reports

Project Management

The Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute is ultimately responsible for the management of this study. Ms. Jill Hough, Director of the Small Urban & Rural Transit Center will be a co-principal investigator for the project and will be responsible for carrying out the management functions of the project. The other co-principal investigators will be Mr. Del Peterson, Associate Research Fellow, Mr. David Ripplinger, Associate Research Fellow, and Dr. James H. Miller, a Faculty Affiliate of the UGPTI.

Applicable Documents

The following documents may be used as resources:

  • "Mobility Management," white paper by Doug Birnie, Federal Transit Administration, 2004
  • Advanced Public Transportation Systems: The State of the Art Update '96, Federal Transit Administration, report no. DOT-VNTSC-FTA-95-13, January 1996
  • SMART Operational Field Test Evaluation: Institutional Issues Report, Tamar Glazer, Jonathan Levine, Steven Underwood, and Richard Wallace, The University of Michigan, June 1997
  • Regional Transit ITS Architecture: Kearney, Nebraska, Federal Transit Administration in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, Nebraska Department of Roads, and RYDE Transit, April 17, 2003


  •,, June 2004.
  • Federal Highway Administration, Reach Your Destination Easily (RYDE) Transit, April 2003.
  • Glazer, Tamar N., Jonathan Levine, Steven Underwood, Richard Wallace, SMART Operational Field Test Evaluation: Institutional Issues Report, June 1997.

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