CTS theme for 2024: Rural Needs. Statewide Answers

By Kyle Shelton, CTS Director

Rural Needs. Statewide Answers. Improving Transportation for All Communities

I’m excited to share the new thematic focus for CTS in 2024: Rural Needs. Statewide Answers: Improving Transportation for All Communities. We are looking forward to working with partners across the state and beyond throughout the year on elements tied to this theme.

Why rural transportation? Because mobility and transportation practices look vastly different depending on where they take place. And too often, the unique challenges and opportunities in rural transportation take a backseat to the attention given to urban and suburban issues by researchers or agencies. 

Traveling to the doctor’s office, visiting a friend who lives a few miles away, dropping a child off at school: Each of these trips takes on a different look depending on whether it takes place in Minneapolis, Thief River Falls, or a rural township in Greater Minnesota. It might take more time to reach a commercial center in a rural setting, or mobility options may be limited to personal vehicles. 

The differences don’t stop at personal trips and errands. Delivering goods, building and maintaining infrastructure, managing impacts to unique environments, providing emergency response, and connecting employees and employers all manifest differently depending on location. 

At the same time, there are a multitude of commonalities across rural and urban communities. People are traveling to the same types of destinations and looking to access many of the same services. In most cases, lessons can be learned from interventions or new materials can be applied across geographies. Recognizing where and how urban and rural transportation differ and align offers a chance to better serve both locations with future work. 

Throughout this year we’ll focus on the types of mobility issues faced by rural communities and their residents by highlighting research articles and projects, hosting webinars and events, sharing articles and case studies, and convening stakeholders. We’ll also feature some of the exciting things happening in many parts of Greater Minnesota as communities confront these challenges head on. We’ll share research that’s addressing transportation gaps in rural areas, and we’ll work with researchers to identify how technologies such as connected and autonomous vehicles, or new practices to reduce pollution in stormwater runoff, can offer solutions to rural communities.

Throughout all of this work, we’ll share our findings directly with residents, agencies, and other stakeholders via events throughout the state and features on this site—beginning with completed rural transportation projects by CTS Research Scholars and coverage of them in our communications and by the news media.

We hope you find these resources valuable, and we encourage you to contact us with your questions, suggestions, and ideas for how we can continue to keep the spotlight on rural transportation issues in 2024.


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