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Suggested Citation:"Barriers to Development of New or Expanded Services." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2009. Rural Transit Achievements: Assessing the Outcomes of Increased Funding for Rural Passenger Services under SAFETEA-LU. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23004.
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Page 56
Page 57
Suggested Citation:"Barriers to Development of New or Expanded Services." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2009. Rural Transit Achievements: Assessing the Outcomes of Increased Funding for Rural Passenger Services under SAFETEA-LU. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23004.
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Page 57

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53 BARRIERS TO DEVELOPMENT OF NEW OR EXPANDED SERVICES Two major financial barriers cited to developing new or expanding rural transit services are 1) increases in operating costs (fuel, insurance), and 2) lack of state and local matching funds. Increases in the cost of fuel and insurance are effectively reducing the increased funding made available through SAFETEA-LU. This has curtailed the ability to increase services with the additional funding, as shown in Table 21. Table 21 Major Barriers Response Percent Response Count 84.2% 16 42.1% 8 26.3% 5 89.5% 17 42.1% 8 21.1% 4 Other (please specify) 7 answered question 19 skipped question 2 need for coordinated plan increased cost of fuel increased cost of insurance decrease in revenue from state fuel tax What were the major barriers to the development of new or expanded rural or intercity transportation in your state? Answer Options lack of state and local matching funds shortage of state staff to manage the program Even with the increase in federal funding, most states and local areas are having difficulty raising the funds to match the increased federal funds. Availability of state and local funding for transit in rural areas is highly dependent on the economy (sales taxes, property taxes, real estate transfer taxes, auto tag fees) or the consumption of gas (gas tax). The current economic conditions have decreased the amount of revenue available to states and local communities to support rural transit initiatives. Another constraint from the state perspective is the shortage of state staff to manage the increases in existing programs and new programs. Some of the most important challenges facing state transit program managers involve their expanding role in managing FTA programs, particularly with implementation of SAFETEA-LU. State DOTs have taken on new and expanding roles in the administration of transit programs and funding over the past two decades. These have included expansion of their responsibilities for administering the federal transit programs as well as expansion of many of the state-sponsored programs. Increased workloads associated with these expanding roles and responsibilities are coupled with current staff shortages in the

54 transit sections of most state DOTs. Further, state options for hiring staff are limited and constrained, even with the availability of additional federal funds. Overall, the research conducted for NCHRP 20-65(7) - Evaluation of States’ Ability to Have Adequate Staff Resources to Implement Federal Public Transit Programs concluded that most states do not have the staff resources needed to adequately manage the federal transit programs. Further, state options for hiring staff are limited and constrained, even with the availability of additional federal funds. And, while there is little reported turnover, State DOTs have difficulty attracting new staff to transit positions and may be headed for a crisis as staff members retire. Clearly, state staffing levels for transit program management have not been increasing in response to the growth in FTA programs. Intuitively, as the state- administered federal funds increase, the demands passed along to the states in terms of administrative responsibility for these funds also rises. But, based on the survey of state transit units conducted under another project, the research team found that state transit staffing levels were at their highest in 2000, just as the federal funding levels were being increased because of TEA-21. A steady decline in staffing occurred over the next five years with a low point set in 2005 even though funding continued to increase each year. This increase in state’s role and need to create new program policies/procedures/guidelines at the state level has probably led, in part, to the lapse in time between funding authorization and projects being implemented in local communities.

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TRB’s Transportation Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) Web-Only Document 46: Rural Transit Achievements: Assessing the Outcomes of Increased Funding for Rural Passenger Services under SAFETEA-LU (the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users) explores data and information on the changes in rural public and intercity bus transportation that have resulted from the increases in funding made available through SAFETEA-LU. The summary of the report is available online as TCRP Research Results Digest 93.

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