Rural Community Transit Strategies

Principal Investigator(s):

Thomas Fisher, Professor, Metropolitan Design Center


  • Fernanado Burga, Assistant Professor, Humphrey School of Public Affairs
  • Alireza Khani, Associate Professor, Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering
  • Mary Vogel, Senior Research Fellow, Center for Changing Landscapes

Project summary:

This project seeks 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 of the metro area, forcing most Greater Minnesota residents to own automobiles. Meanwhile, many communities have school busing 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 Greater Minnesota community, Wabasha, to develop a pilot for rural community transit that can be a model for similar communities across the state. The research will seek to build upon existing mobility assets and to answer the question of whether a shared mobility services approach to rural transit transportation in Greater Minnesota can 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.

The research will also be informed by lessons learned from the pandemic's impact on transit needs and access driven by changes in online shopping, distance learning, telecommuting, telemedicine, etc. and its effect on living, learning, and working patterns, employment opportunities, and community assets.

Project details: