University of Minnesota
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The Humphrey School of Public Affairs is the University of
Minnesota's school of policy and planning.

State and Local Policy Program

Community-based Transit

This research seeks to improve transportation services available to those individuals, who, because of age, disability, poverty, or other reasons, cannot routinely use automobiles. We are particularly concerned with the set of specialized, small-vehicle transit services between large-vehicle, fixed-route transit and rides arranged privately with friends and family members. These services, commonly known as "community-based transportation," can range from a single vehicle operated when needed by a nursing home or small human service agency to large public and private fleets operating around the clock metro-wide.

There has been a general sense among both funders and operators of this system that services could and should be more effective and efficient, given the resources expended. Some needs are not being met while, at the same time, other services are duplicated by multiple agencies. Transportation providers complain about the difficulty of providing effective services within the constraints of the various funding sources and regulatory agencies, while funders believe that the providers could be more efficient through better coordination with each other.

Project Description

Our objective is to take as broad a view as possible of this "system," without focusing on any particular problem or favoring any point of view. We sought to understand the full range of activities that fall within the purview of community-based transit, to identify and clarify the possible sources of inefficiency, and to develop ways to make the system work better. While our specific recommendations inevitably will tend to address specific problems, our broader intent is to provide a framework for thinking about community-based transit, so that others will have better tools to develop their own solutions to their own problems.

Major Accomplishments

In 2009, SLPP issued a report on the transportation needs of rural communities, focusing on low-income families, students, and seniors:
Itasca County Area Transportation Study

In October 2003, SLPP hosted a day-long conference attended by about 75 Minnesota community-based transit)stakeholders.
Complete final report
Executive summary
Report without appendices
Appendix A: Twin Cities service providers
Appendix B: Provider and user focus group findings
Appendix C: Technology implementation issues
Appendix D: Conference proceedings

The Center for Transportation Studies at the University of Minnesota first addressed these issues with a series of "listening sessions" with community-based transit stakeholders, leading to a report, "Specialized Transit and Elderly, Disabled, and Families in Poverty Populations," and conference in 2001. Ongoing local interest led to a request from Hennepin County to examine these issues further. The current project has been ongoing since September 2002.

For more information, see Community Transportation.