Rural Community Transit Strategies: Building on, Expanding, and Enhancing Existing Assets and Programs


Tom Fisher, Mary Vogel, Alireza Khani, Fernando Burga

February 2023

Report no. MnDOT 2023-08

This project involved the development of innovative sharing-economy strategies to address rural transit challenges in Greater Minnesota. Many transit services and transportation network companies (TNCs) like Uber and Lyft do not provide services to commuters outside metro areas, forcing most residents in Greater Minnesota to own automobiles. Meanwhile, many communities have school bus systems and substantial vehicle capacity that remain parked and unused much of the day. This project uses a human-centered design approach to engage a community in Greater Minnesota with a population of less than 10,000 people to develop a pilot for rural community transit that could be a model for similar communities across the state. The research seeks to answer the question of whether a shared, mobility services approach to rural transit transportation in Greater Minnesota could meet people's needs at a lower cost, with more convenience, and with greater positive impacts on the local economy than current transit practices and services. Our research developed a menu of strategies that uses existing community assets to promote walking, biking, car sharing, bus sharing, and car and van pooling.

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