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114 A P P E N D I X C Selected Survey Responses Respondentâs Write-in Comment(s) about Transit Planning Challenges [County] has had an explosion of suburban development over the last 15 years as people seek more affordable housing than what they can find in [other counties]. It is straining our only two east-west highways. There is still plenty of developable land and no foreseeable end to the trend. [County] is already built out. The key is redevelopment for us, especially along corridors that already have better transit. Land uses are still primarily single-use, strip malls, subdivisions, etc. Even new large apartment complexes are auto-oriented and not walkable out to the street. Almost all new complexes are intended to be âluxury,â so I would say affordable housing should be a challenge added in the category. [State] recently passed a voter initiative that removes car license fees that were part of a multi-modal account that was used for grant awards from the state for public transportation. There is a court challenge to the initiative, and we are not sure what the outcome will be. Even if it is reversed, there is an expectation that this funding may not be as secure as it has been in the past. We may be in a position to need direct federal funding, which will come with significantly more requirements. A new requirement for our system was becoming a Full Reporter for NTD. There is bare bones training through NTI â but for small systems, this has been a monster. A nuance to one or more of the options above is â...in an area of stable or declining population growth/employment growth.â It would be interesting to hear how smaller and medium-sized agencies in this situation are triaging their service revisions/cuts. A number of government offices and most commercial development are located outside of our current service area and doesnât fit well, if at all, into our current fixed routes and creates timing issues for our demand response and ADA programs. A portion of our county is growing and will soon be classified as small urban. We will need to use different funding for trips within this area. We are also currently challenged with designing a new deviated route in that area, but the residential areas are spread out and there is no âdowntown.â Accurate projections of future ridership. Designing effective routes to increase ridership and expand rider demographics.
Selected Survey Responses 115Â Â Respondentâs Write-in Comment(s) about Transit Planning Challenges Addressing declining enrollment at [university]. How to increase ridership. How to retain and hire quality operators. How to provide increased transit service to [institution]. How to increase nonâtax dollar local financial funding to transit. How to use local resources to improve passenger amenities. How to develop a productive partnership with the MPO. How to implement a mobility management program. Adequate capital funding. Seeking out non-traditional funding sources. Getting support from local governments for dedicated transit funding. Affordable housing developments that donât consider the childcare needs of parents and the transportation needed to get the children to and from schools, practices, etc. Aging fleet of vehicles. Aging population. All agencies rely on technologies and, while the implementation of these technologies is expensive, the continuation of the services can be overwhelming. While there are some capital grants that will pay for installation, ongoing expenses and yearly fees are always increasing, and it is left to transit agencies to assume the cost. All of our FTA formula grants for operations are maxed out, so any service expansions are funded with 100% local funds. Fortunately, our elected officials are supportive of public transit and we have been able to enhance and expand services, but those efforts are not as robust in the absence of additional FTA funding for operations. All require significant financial resources that are Federal, State, and Local. Along the lines of Item B is how can we recover ridership that has been lost due to long-term construction projects. On one route, weâve already lost half our ridership. Although funding is an overall issue, funding allocations/decisions by DOT seem to be the larger problem. And then how can we increase ridership? Any implementation of technology has an impact on our budget. The initial cost of technology impacts our budget. IT personnel to maintain that technology would impact our budget, be it full-time, part-time, or outsourced. As a member of the [partnership], we are at the table to comment on some of these issues. The County is in charge of most land use decisions and permitting. In [state], there was a recent court ruling... regarding water rights and water usage that has been the first thing I have seen to halt continual sprawl. However, it has resulted in significant confusion about the ruling and has led to a shortage of housing, etc. As a public government entity, how do we best engage our current stakeholders and partners to ensure funding and negotiate intergovernmental agreements that define that funding? Add Ride Share Dashboard through public-private partnership. Microtransit public-private partnership. Automated Transit Vehicles. Planning and building bus capacity. Adding public transportation without additional funding to increase ridership.
116 Innovative Practices for Transit Planning at Small to Mid-Sized Agencies Respondentâs Write-in Comment(s) about Transit Planning Challenges As a transportation authority, we cannot dictate land use policies. We can only provide comments on proposed developments and attempt to quantify the forecasted impacts on traffic congestion and transit and hope they take the comments into consideration. As an urban provider, there are challenges associated with smaller neighboring cities lacking investment in public transportation. This limits services to the core urban city, which makes the only local investment to leverage grant funds. This also presents challenges in achieving sufficient local match to leverage the total grant funds available. To offset this challenge, our agency invests in capital projects that require less match, enhance services to the core transportation network, and reduce operating costs, such as the installation of a new compressed natural gas station and CNG conversions on buses. Aside from construction and reconstruction of major roadways and bridges, the actual âland useâ has not had a major impact in our rural county to date. I think âinvolvementâ in local township and/or county planning organizations is imperative; perhaps educating small transit system staff on how to accomplish this could be added? Also, understanding the role of small transit systems and their required interaction with Rural/Metropolitan Planning Organizations would be of benefit? Assertiveness at all federal state and regional meetings. Applying directly for eligible grants. Playing a role in operations planning initiatives. Attract Choice Riders to increase fixed-route ridership Balancing frequent corridors vs. service area in places without sufficient walking infrastructure. Increased demand for ADA service, and non-ADA paratransit. Because I have worked with integrated ITS at two other transit systems, I know the power of using data to improve performance and enhance the customer experience. Our procurement process is kind of slow here, but I am chomping at the bit because I know how to procure the data I want and I know how to use it when I have it. Begin to move away from the parameters, labels, guidelines, etc. that separate the funding streams for the rural/urban dilemmas. Growth is growth regardless of the density factor, and programs should have the process in place to address these needs. Being able to transport county line to county line. Best ways to support implementation of [legislation]. Biggest challenge here is to get buy-in to focus on core versus coverage. Board says they buy in but wonât allow worst-performing routes to be cut. Bike-share and scooter-share programs Building Capacity within Transportation Bureau. Regional Coordination. State Coordination. Federal Coordination.
Selected Survey Responses 117Â Â Respondentâs Write-in Comment(s) about Transit Planning Challenges Can/should we engage local business and industry to help fund services and/or can we help meet business needs associated with transportation of employees to local businesses? How do we maximize service and 3rd party funding sources, and minimize the burden on local Human Services clients? How do we minimize required local government funding? How do we maximize our existing equipment/staff/applications to maximize efficiency using a demand-response model? How do we determine if we need to adapt our business model to meet the public need if there is limited âdemandâ for service and/or in a county with jurisdictions that donât all want growth? Challenges typically experienced by our local agency occurs when the desire for additional service overshadows the existing established services that are affordable, proven to be effective, and valued by its patrons. Changes to Medicaid eligibility and reimbursements. Attracting and educating new/potential riders. Keeping up with technology changes, while also offering solutions expected by riders. Changing demographics of the community. Changing routes that have been in place for over 20 years, which will include cutting routes but adding frequency on other routes. Identifying shifting demographics and keeping current on these trends. Connectivity with other counties. Continually looking for local match and dollars to cover the smaller amount of Federal dollars we receive each year. Coordinated transit plan has identified areas of service that need to be expanded. Cost-effective mobility options during evenings and weekends when traditional transit service is not available. Costs keep going up but our grant dollars keep going down. Currently, systems/design/operations are dictated by state and federal guidelines, and system must customize to fit these guidelines. Need to develop a program where the state and federal programs respond, fund, and implement systems that are totally responsive to the needs of a particular geographic area. Currently, we are facing some technology issues with MDCs that are not functioning due to outdated technology. We currently have been on hold with new [state DOT] technology that will help once implemented. Funding, again, is always an issue, with limited funding available. Declining ridership. Demand for service in areas not presently served.
118 Innovative Practices for Transit Planning at Small to Mid-Sized Agencies Respondentâs Write-in Comment(s) about Transit Planning Challenges Demand Response transit service funding. Designing new deviated fixed and fixed routes for smaller, more rural agencies. Determining how to start new or change existing services with limited data. Funding for new services. Develop sustainable, long-term funding sources. Developing route efficiencies to address ridership growth with existing resources. Developing viable first-/last-mile alternatives (i.e. bike sharing, ride sharing, ride hailing, etc.) in a lower-density rural area. Developments donât take into consideration that the communities are not easily accessible for public transit. Dialysis and follow-up care for mental health. Discharge from hospitals to tribal reservations. Difficulty with the expanding urban areas when federal transit funds are allocated to urban vs. rural pots but the urban areas do not expand their transit systems to serve the expanded area. Driver and skilled mechanic shortages, a lack of affordable housing for employees, and a lack of affordable day care for employees. Due to our low population and low growth, the federal urban formulas severely limit our funding. Areas like ours need to have some supplemental funding or some type of correction factor to the current formula to better assist us. Many cities in the east have the Small Transit Intensive City (STIC) designation. These are usually small cities that have a major educational institution which, again, we donât have here. A program similar to this needs to be put in place for cities here in the west that donât have that advantage to generate additional funding. Effect of new Census results on transit funding. Effectively provide first- and last-mile transportation (access to and from fixed-route transit). Effectively work with the agencies and governments that provide and maintain roads, sidewalks, and bicycle facilities. Elected officials. Encouraging older Americans to utilize transit services by providing safe and secure access that makes them more comfortable with the idea. Expanding upon services such as weekend or late evening. Expansion Planning and Funding. Expensive dispatch and scheduling software along with required equipment updates, etc. should be make ready costs to allow us to track all vehicles and dispatch closest vehicle to help reduce costs.
Selected Survey Responses 119Â Â Respondentâs Write-in Comment(s) about Transit Planning Challenges Experimenting with door-to-door shuttle services in defined area. Connectivity with adjacent transit providers including jointly operated services. Facility funding â help! Our county has provided a building, so the state will not approve any funding for improvements to the property, such as paving the lot, new security fencing, etc. Federal laws frequently require new plans (SMS, EEO, Title VI, DBE) without allocating any $$ resources for them. Federal, State, & local funding. Finding and sustaining funding sources. Finding local match. Finding more drivers to replace our aging fleet drivers who are retiring. Also, more training for mechanics. Finding replacement drivers for our aging drivers who are nearing retirement age. First-/last-mile transportation. More frequent fixed-route service. Fixed-route intercity services that do not provide easy enough origin/destinations. Meeting needs of single-occupant trips over long distances. Flat funding, shortage of drivers, new mandate to pay a higher wage from the state without any increase in funding, decline in fixed route ridership, and rapid growth in demand for demand response trips. Flow of funds from the federal level. For small systems, acquiring expertise to effectively identify those challenges you can/should expend resources to attain. How to effectively monitor new services and existing services to determine appropriate levels of run-cutting (up to and including removal of non-productive services â and what it the best âtimingâ to make those changes)? Funding additional routes such as weekend service. Funding for demand response type services to support aging in place. Funding for mandatory zero emission buses and infrastructure. Funding for public transportation services. [State] has the [ranking] population of all 50 states but we are also the [ranking] largest in land area... This means that our funding allocations from FTA for urban service are often less than many rural areas in the USA. Funding is always a struggle. We currently work on donations and federal and local grants to fund any expansions. Any suggestions for extra funding would be greatly appreciated. Funding is limited for transit and especially when it comes to service expansion. Purchasing new vehicles. Funding long term.
120 Innovative Practices for Transit Planning at Small to Mid-Sized Agencies Respondentâs Write-in Comment(s) about Transit Planning Challenges Funding sources (formula and discretionary), and human resources (having staff) that can navigate the âred tapeâ (training of appropriate staff). Funding to support expansion in kind to offset cost. Funding to support increase (growth) in ridership demands both within communities we serve as well as for out-of-town rides. Also challenged to find drivers in rural communities to support even current ridership numbers. Funding!!!! 5311 has been flat for over 15 years. There is no federal funding in paratransit. Funding. Getting a federal budget passed on time rather than a series of continuing resolutions that making planning difficult. Having to purchase vehicles from RFP lists in order to get federal and state funding. Need to be able to right-size a fleet to fit areas we provide transit. Should be able to purchase smaller vehicles when needed instead of having to purchase vehicle sizes not needed. How best do we respond to employment growth that is located outside of the current fixed- route bus system? How best to plan for a future construction boom, including residential, industrial, and future employment centers. How can we adapt to serving a new market (such as choice riders)? Our ridership is largely low-income, transit-dependent. We are not able to attract choice riders. How can we adapt to serving a new market (such as choice riders)? For us, this is all funding driven. We cannot justify putting a lot of resources into this when we do not have the funding to adequately serve the transit-dependent or to offer competitive services to those in the next income bracket. How can we adapt to serving a new market in a community with rapid population growth? How can we adapt to serving a new market? How can we affordably and simply choose and implement the right technology? How can we allocate our existing resources for fixed-route service to incorporate new areas without additional funding? How can we balance level of service provided and service coverage? Iâm interested in best practices and lessons learned for all the above. How can we balance level of service provided and service coverage? Our... buses are extremely busy locally from 6-9 and 2-5. When people call now to get added during that time, itâs next to impossible to get them added, and they are very angry despite educating them on why. Also, being from a rural community, a lot of residents want/need to travel out of town/county for medical services/beauty needs/shopping due to the lack here, but our buses stay very busy within [community], and itâs hard to find block offs in the schedule to allow
Selected Survey Responses 121Â Â Respondentâs Write-in Comment(s) about Transit Planning Challenges round trips because thereâs usually an hour wait period. A real lack of understanding from riders. I really have been trying to educate them on this. How can we balance serving the whole community versus areas that most need service? How can we best do outreach in very rural and older areas of the county? How can we best explain the service to people who have never taken public transit before? How can we better measure transitâs value (beyond ridership)? How can blend all of our MOD services into a seamless network? How can we better serve the residents of our county, which could lead to increased ridership? How can we deal with significant loss of development due to extreme weather events (fire, flood, snow) and its impact to transit? How can we design transit service that meets agency and community goals in the most cost- effective way? Having limited funds make it difficult to serve all the communityâs needs. The majority of our service is centered on the local college because they support our minimum farebox requirement. How can we determine what service structure is best for a developing community? How can we determine what service structure is best for the community? We provide service in the rural areas and from rural to urban and urban to rural, and it is difficult sometimes to determine which service structure should be utilized to meet agency needs and community goals. Most communities want the more expensive dial-a-ride service (taxi-like service), and we would like to develop deviated routes to transport more riders with a fixed cost. How can we develop sustainable, long-term funding sources? Raising our rates is the only option for us right now. Could likely lose some private pay ridership as a result. How can we economically serve the potential riders in very rural areas? How can we effectively engage in policy decisions that affect affordable housing? How can we effectively provide first- and last-mile transportation (access to and from fixed- route transit)? In a rural setting, getting riders to business parks with multiple employers with different hours of operation. In our state, roads and bridges are deplorable and funding needs to be put in place to fix these issues. It seems the major hurdle is how to fund them along with other concerns. How can we effectively provide first- and last-mile transportation (access to and from fixed- route transit)? We plan to look at this in a short-range planning study this year. How can we effectively work with others who provide first- and last-mile transportation (including transportation network companies and micromobility providers)? May be part of short-range planning study.
122 Innovative Practices for Transit Planning at Small to Mid-Sized Agencies Respondentâs Write-in Comment(s) about Transit Planning Challenges How can we effectively work with the agencies and governments that provide and maintain roads, sidewalks, and bicycle facilities? This has been our biggest challenge. How can we fund identified service improvement needs? How can we help communities to understand the importance of integrating transit into their city and county transportation plans at more than a requirement level? How can we get cities and counties to identify transit corridors and design land use planning around this? How can we improve efficiencies when serving rural areas? How can we improve the quality of transit service that we provide? We do have challenges in determining how we can improve the quality of service within our organization based upon our experience with transit and, as a result, sometimes nothing is done. How can we increase ridership and stay within funding limits? How can we increase ridership? In general â this is relevant, and we are focused on not just increasing ridership on fixed routes but on first-/last-mile to fixed-route, etc. Also, on being more efficient in terms of the ridership we serve but improving service on high-ridership routes, not necessarily coverage. How can we increase ridership? Our ridership has been flat even with a number of route and fare improvements. How can we influence or participate in land development processes (such as site plan approvals)? Our large jurisdictions already include us in site planning processes. All of our major corridors are developed and really going through a redevelopment phase. How can we influence or participate in land development processes (such as site plan approvals)? Because transit is part of the City, we do get this opportunity. How can we influence or participate in land development processes (such as site plan approvals)? We are in the planning documents to be brought into the beginning phases and, yet, we are always left out. We have had several discussions on this to get more cooperation from all parties. How can we influence or participate in land development processes? How can we influence or participate in land use policy decision-making (such as land development code amendments)? We work closely with the MPO, which is combined with the countywide land use authority, on policy decision-making. The MPO... is taking the lead on trying to influence redevelopment. How can we influence or participate in land use policy decision-making (such as land development code amendments)? The City recently adopted an active transportation plan that considers transit, walking, and bicycles.
Selected Survey Responses 123Â Â Respondentâs Write-in Comment(s) about Transit Planning Challenges How can we influence transportation and land use planning within our own local government? How can we keep up with communitiesâ needs and rider demand with an aging fleet and limited resources? How can we leverage technology to better reach younger/new riders? How can we manage the growth of reduced-fare customers and maintain the number of full- fare paying riders? How can we obtain funding to support expansion? We will attempt to expand our services to make up for the rides lost from our sub-contractor but it will be challenging due to loss of revenue. How can we obtain funding to sustain current operations without additional funding? How can we obtain funding to sustain current operations? We will be losing our biggest sub- contractor in FY2021 and that will result in a 55% decrease in revenue. How can we partner with private entities? How can we prepare for the impacts of Census 2020? (to a lesser extent) How can we prepare for the impacts of Census 2020? [City] is a majority Hispanic community with relatively high unemployment and poverty rates. There is much distrust among many in the community about the Census process. The City has an active campaign about the importance of being counted. How can we prepare for the impacts of Census 2020? [County] does not anticipate much differences between last Census and this in terms of demographics. How can we prepare for the impacts of Census 2020? How do we balance loss of rural funding and gain our âfair shareâ of urban funding? How can we provide more frequent service, fixed route service at night, and weekends when we are currently maxed out on our 5307 FTA operating assistance? How can we provide service to the general public more effectively when service contracts bring in the most revenue? We rely on service contracts for local match, and we consequently end up serving those people more, which books up a lot our service. We are already at capacity, so itâs challenging to expand service, especially without the local match to bring in higher amounts of revenue. How can we react effectively to changes in land use patterns, such as rural lands being developed for businesses? How can we react effectively to changes in land use patterns? An example would be industrial parks that are built away from population centers and spread out over several square miles.
124 Innovative Practices for Transit Planning at Small to Mid-Sized Agencies Respondentâs Write-in Comment(s) about Transit Planning Challenges How can we recover ridership that has been lost to other modes = Self Transport? Obtaining local match. How can we recover ridership that has been lost to other modes? Not as critical. How can we replace ridership lost due to declining population and declining university enrollment? How can we serve clients that fall through the cracks? How can small urban systems expand fixed-route service to semi-rural areas? How can we support aging in place and our areaâs growing senior population? How can we support aging in place and provide enough services in the medically under- served rural areas in our region? How can we support aging in place is our number one issue. How can we support aging in place? (I donât know what this means) How can we support aging in place? [City] has long been touted as a retirement destination. Our demand response service for seniors has not been able to meet the demand for trips. How can we support aging in place? How can we support the needs of a senior population slated to grow 137% over the next 18 years? How can we support aging in place? Over 26% of our population is 65 and older. However, this age group makes up less than 5% of ridership. How do we better serve these people with fixed routes so they are not only on paratransit? How do we (as a transit agency) break down all of the barriers and governmental procedures to quickly and effectively re-design streetscapes, build sidewalks, and pedestrian connections to transit main line bus stops? There are so many rules, regulations, jurisdictions (city right- of-way, county right-of-way, state roads) that make something as simple as pouring concrete for sidewalks, curb cuts, bus pads, etc. take years and years just to get approved. How do we better understand and communicate our value in the community? How do we continue to provide services for our service contracts while also maintaining âpublic transportationâ to the general community? For example, when our service contracts equal about 70% of our rides and they keep asking for more, how do you balance that with Jane Doe calling in for a one-off ride here and there? How do we defend capital improvements such as BRT that only improve a specific corridor? How do we defend the value and attraction of public transit in an era of low gas prices and anti-tax/anti-government sentiments? How do we develop new resources to invest in technology? How do we develop outcome-based transit planning?
Selected Survey Responses 125Â Â Respondentâs Write-in Comment(s) about Transit Planning Challenges How do we effectively and efficiently expand service hours with very limited funding? How do we encourage planning decisions that create the right densities for fixed-route service? How do we find local match in an extremely rural area with extreme economic challenges of its own? How do we find local match? We are currently setting aside a percentage of per-mile revenue for this. How do we find schedulers or get training on transit scheduling? How do we fund any of these options? How do we find staff to provide additional service? How do we implement change to impact performance indicators? How do we implement new modes such as microtransit? How do we implement those technologies? Technologies and length of time due to Federal requirements for procurement How do we increase regional connectivity? How do we accommodate the increasing need for NEMT? How do we increase ridership while maintaining at least 16 passengers per bus hour? Or, said another way, âHow do we increase ridership without becoming very inefficient?â How do we influence local planning and political decision making that takes transit into account? How do we involve health care more effectively into transit planning? How do we keep up with the pace of changing technology? How do we make sure that transit sprawl doesnât follow urban sprawl (or that we use transit to chase riders in fringe suburban areas and divert resources away from the core transit areas and receive diminishing returns)? How do we most effectively measure our current performance? I think all transit agencies can benefit from best practices on measuring the effectiveness and performance of services being provide. How do we plan for a population that is steadily aging and not seeing the retention of younger folks? How do we prepare for the potential shifts in service models base on new census data How do we reach the Rural Rider to make service available How do we respond to new state or federal regulations that affect how we design service and manage our assets? Iâm interested in best practices and lessons learned for all the above. All on some level.
126 Innovative Practices for Transit Planning at Small to Mid-Sized Agencies Respondentâs Write-in Comment(s) about Transit Planning Challenges How do we safeguard drivers in the early morning and late evening with regard to undocumented aliens boarding the bus? How do we use the data our service creates to better influence funding opportunities and decisions? How do you pay for automated trip scheduling software if you do not have the high ridership? We want the software but the [state DOT] said we do not have enough riders to get the 5311 capital grant for it. We also need iPads for the drivers. We need other grant options. We average [<300] passengers per day in our ridership. [state DOT] said we must have 300 passengers per day to get the grant. How to best show the various stakeholders how their share is being computed without getting into the minute details of service hour calculations for each jurisdiction. How to break down geopolitical boundaries. How to cover increased operating costs? How to develop sustainable, long-term funding sources. Fare revenue hasnât been quite enough to cover local match and has been stagnant in recent years while cost has been rising. How to improve the quality of service that we provide and how do we measure our current performance. How to improve the quality of service that we provide and how do we measure our current performance. We also want to utilize technology such as route software and iPads but need the local match funding as well as help setting it up. How to increase paratransit ridership? How to increase ridership How to increase ridership and how do we serve new markets. How to increase ridership without increasing expenses. How to keep trained drivers in the job that does not pay very much? How to plan for fund, and implement technology including procurement challenges. How to recover lost ridership due to route reconfiguration? How to recover lost ridership, especially on commuter route How to support a population that is aging in place with rising paratransit ridership How to support increasing tech needs? How to meet labor force needs for drivers, maintenance personnel, and managers now and in the future? I conducted an initial public survey that informed us about the most needed travel origins and destinations. Iâm in the process of doing that again (after 5 years) to update our
Selected Survey Responses 127Â Â Respondentâs Write-in Comment(s) about Transit Planning Challenges information. I was fortunate to attend a training... at the time when I was analyzing data and trying to build routes. I think route design/service design is an ongoing need. I feel in our area we have challenges in all of the above categories - except B. There are very few other modes. I pretty much gave you the laundry list. I started here a little over a year ago and I was told by [state DOT] that our agency was 8 years behind on technology! We were still using appointment books for the 3 buses. We recently switched to Google Docs for scheduling - FREE!! A new bus was ordered with cameras, whereas our current buses donât have that, so we are moving up, but have a long way to go! With our small service and local knowledge, Iâm not sure how much more technology is needed for growth. [Agency] has grown a lot in the last year since I took over. I wouldnât say we are facing a challenge. However, letter C is one that we struggle with. Learning different technologies to see where we struggle, and how we could improve, would be amazing. Iâd also be interested in looking at technology options that can increase ridership, help improve performance, and how to manage their procurement and implementation. Identifying transportation network providers locally and obtaining data on their services. If we move into the large urban category, [agency] will be stripped of operating funds and expected to self sustain many operational costs as if we were Chicago or NYC. There needs to be a new category that recognizes the difference between a truly large urban area like these and small cities like [city] that are all getting swept up over this 200,000 population threshold. If/when first-mile/last-mile solutions such as microtransit are successful, how do we manage the expectation that all services should be replaced with an on-demand microtransit type of service? Impacts of federal regulations on funding. Implementing new technology to make transit operations more efficient. Seeking out and implementing technologies that riders can understand and utilize. In our area it is a struggle to have choice riders. We are constantly looking for ways to acquire choice riders in our rural area mostly because of the declining population in our six-county region. In the west, it is getting elected officials that have never used public transit and never will to understand the value of public transit for those constituents that need it. This leads into allocating resources to have effective public transit. From the planning side, it is being able to develop robust plans and projects with the limited resources and tools of a smaller agency.
128 Innovative Practices for Transit Planning at Small to Mid-Sized Agencies Respondentâs Write-in Comment(s) about Transit Planning Challenges Increase in service demand beyond our standard operating hours and outside our locally funded service area. Increase our service area. Increase ridership. Increasing demand for door-to-door service (paratransit). How can we support aging in place? How can we (or should we even try) efficiently serve suburban development? Limited operational funding for service expansion/optimizing service delivery operations. Increasing costs for fleet maintenance/limited availability of FTA funding for bus replacement and expansion. Increasing demand for ADA paratransit. Shortage of operations staff. Increasing frequency of service on routes and expansion of service at night and on weekends. With the new tools and technology that we are getting we should be able to identify any changes. Increasing ridership Increasing ridership mainly to younger clients. Perception that our services are only used by the elderly and low-income clients. increasing ridership presents other challenges...budgetary & logistically (# of vehicles available for use). It is always a struggle for us to provide service to persons living in the outlying areas who are not able to get to a fixed route and may not have the money available to use a Route with Deviation, Call a Bus, or County Wide Service, or [agency] does not have the availability on those routes. It is difficult to meet the needs of nearly 40,000 trips per year with just a lodgerâs tax. We are looking at advertising but that canât be counted on as a long-term revenue source, and the town is expected to show minimal growth that would generate more lodgerâs tax. It is difficult to serve riders in our more rural areas. First-mile/last-mile with an Uber-like feeder to our system has been considered. It is sometimes challenging to respond to changes in regulations that impact our eligibility for specific funding sources as we cannot leverage them with other funding sources. Itâs not necessarily a challenge, but it would be nice to have a no-nonsense evaluation of these emerging technologies and their applicability to smaller transit agencies. Knowing where one can go for training for service design and service planning is great. Currently, employees attend the National Transit Institute (NTI) training. We have also invested in using Remix Software to assist us in service design, and it has been a great tool for us. It seems like a lot of the research on service planning, performance, and productivity focuses on urban areas, and itâs sometimes difficult to translate that research to rural and small urban areas or to get a bead on what âreasonableâ performance looks like in rural and small urban areas.
Selected Survey Responses 129Â Â Respondentâs Write-in Comment(s) about Transit Planning Challenges Lack of Federal and State funding to expand public transportation, especially in the rural areas. lack of funding certainty and lack of funding for service expansion. Lack of funding to have the staff needed to follow and keep up with the Federal and State paperwork and rules. We have what is described as a one-man show, and trying to be the band director with limited staff to assist is hard to accomplish. This all relates back to the lack of Federal, State, and Local dollars. We try to support the technologies that our customers request the best we can, but writing and executing grants is really hard to get a good product accomplished properly. Lack of scheduling software. lack of staff. Being able to think outside of the box. Land development generated as part of [institutional action] spurs new development distant from the core City and its services. While new development is good for the community, new government facilities and their tenants expects to have two established fixed routes to accommodate LEED criteria. Land use planners donât consider the publicâs need for transportation when they plan new buildings or move government offices. Local funding source is our #1 issue. Getting community non-riding voters to value transit enough to vote to tax themselves. Biggest challenge is to get community to see value in public transit so they will approve additional funding for it. Local Governments are not willing to help offset cost of rides. Local levy initiatives. Long-term financial forecast, due to the need for millions of dollars in capital replacement for buses, facilities, and equipment, indicated we would deplete reserves by 2025. In 2016, undertook two-year regional... plan. Developed a plan with programs and projects with improvements for mobility and to reduce congestion, to help improve the environment, and to improve safety and infrastructure. Asked voters to approve a $2.65 mill property tax to provide funding to add service, replace vehicles, and construct and maintain facilities. Won... in eight jurisdictions. Losing ridership due to hospital providing free transportation. In order to replace old vehicles, we have to provide a local match. We cannot compete due to charging fares. Losing ridership. Loss of senior ridership. Low starting salary due to lack of funding.
130 Innovative Practices for Transit Planning at Small to Mid-Sized Agencies Respondentâs Write-in Comment(s) about Transit Planning Challenges Many of our current drivers are nearing retirement age and itâs difficult finding replacement drivers. Mobility hubs for connections with first/last-mile options. Mobility on Demand ridership-oriented routes. Reducing coverage/political routes which have low productivity. Monitoring any shifts and how soon do you react to a change? Is it a blip or something that is going to turn significant? More interaction and training from [state DOT] as to how to handle the conversion from rural to small urban or to urban. More responsive paratransit. Regional trip coordination. Coordination with transportation and medical appointments. Transit in food deserts. More so funding. Municipal planning rules that do not include transit in land development. Myopic Focus: Some of the plans that I review seem to ignore the aging population, the disabled, and even the middle-aged working population to focus exclusively on Millennials and choice riders. We cannot assume, for example that everyone can or will desire to use an increased number of sidewalks or that parking spaces can be reduced due to the provision of public transit. Many elderly, and disabled people cannot, and many others would choose not, to use these. We cannot look under a microscope to find just the opinions that would increase the number and importance of our projects while ignoring the needs and desires of the majority of our population. A bus still needs a road, and the majority of the population still chooses to not ride the bus. Nervous to get one-time grants for operations because canât be guaranteed in future -- so do we eat those costs? or expand service temporarily? New Mexico is one of I believe 4 states that does not have a dedicated transit funding source. The New Mexico Transit Association has been lobbying for one for a long time on behalf of the transit agencies within NM. None Not as much a challenge as an approach to identify actual versus perceived local transportation needs. Our agency uses the demand-response service to identify areas of ridership demand. As scheduled activity grows in interest, the information gained is used to adjust our agencyâs fixed routes. Concerning larger projects, our agency requests local partners to perform pilot projects for short-term transit solutions so that our agency can effectively plan and budget for long-term transportation solutions. Once weâve identified the areas where we are low-performers against peers (American bus benchmarking group), we develop teams to address the low-performing areas. However,
Selected Survey Responses 131Â Â Respondentâs Write-in Comment(s) about Transit Planning Challenges identifying low-cost solutions that will make big impact can be a challenge. Challenge is to get one integrated app to do real time trip planning, fare payment, etc. One of our greatest challenges is measuring performance in a way that is meaningful to the public. I present information to my board including cost/trip, cost/hour and cost/mile to use as comparison against other transit agencies that are comparable. However, that type of statistics is unsatisfying to the public. Iâd be very interested in knowing what other measures are effective. Our area is, for a number of reasons, considered a good place for folks to retire. As a consequence, we have a large number of native residents who are choosing to stay in our city, and a large number of folks moving into our area from other regions around the country. Many of these individuals require advanced medical care not available in our City and, because of our large geographic area, they need transportation service to locations in excess of 200 miles away. Our challenges are all of the categories listed above. We have a hard time getting local match funds and then getting the Federal funds once we get local match funds. It delays projects sometime three years to make it work. Our County recently changed their way of planning for all future services (not just transportation). Our greatest need is for a dedicated funding source for the East Side of the county. We are very restricted in regards to expansion, balancing the need for service with the need to replace and maintain buses and other capital assets remain a challenge. Our riders as well as the general public are resistant to change whether it was determined by the agency or a direct result of either state or federal regulation changes. Our state... is involved in an NTD pilot project where all 5311 grantees are required to file their own NTD reports. This is creating too many problems to list here. Our stateâs minimum wage is gradually going up and will cap out at $15 an hour in 2024. What type of additional funding will we be getting to offset this? Our urban area lacks good walkability, and this is an issue we are working on with our planning division. We have installed bike racks on all fixed-route buses and are seeing great utilization of this amenity. Performance standards to include fiscal responsibility. Permitting a 5311 system to serve expansion areas that change because of land use patterns, especially if the governing body opts not to provide transit services and/or the existing 5307 program opts not to serve the growth area. No options to best and efficiently serve the population. Planning challenges of increasing ridership with an aging community.
132 Innovative Practices for Transit Planning at Small to Mid-Sized Agencies Respondentâs Write-in Comment(s) about Transit Planning Challenges Planning decisions should largely be driven by data. However, implementing and maintaining software programs that provide accurate data is extremely challenging. Potential loss to other modes. Preparing for the 2020 census and its impact. Preparing for the impacts of the U.S. Census and the growth of the urbanized area. Providing first- and last-mile transportation to fixed route transit. Connections to focus on. providing transportation service for out-of-town rider requests and the costs associated with providing that service. Public awareness of service. Recent implementation of CAD AVL System has presented staffing challenges, technology challenges, and funding challenges. Also adopted an APC system in 2015. Recover ridership that has been lost during 2019 Federal government shutdown. Recover ridership that was lost. Reduced ridership due to privatization of Medicare in [state]. Lack of qualified drivers for 16+passenger vehicles due to CDL requirements. Regulatory responses can be problematic due to the changes that can impact some funding sources. Replacing lost ridership. Ridership decline. Ridership has been on the decline for the past decade. Current trends indicate that riders are using other modes to travel. With our current microtransit pilot, we are attempting to reach a new market of choice riders. Ridership increases are beginning to outstrip available rolling stock and funding. Rising cost for employees and benefits is probably the top challenge at this point. Funding for buses and facilities would be the next challenge. Road/bridge construction on the few main arteries can be challenging. (However, the land use is not actually changing. Just temporary detouring, which poses challenges.) Rural lands changing to suburban use patterns. Schedule and fare overhaul. Service design such as starting a fixed route. Service vs. cost. Should put in place an incentive program for agencies that serve the same population bases when those agencies integrate program services and coordinate activities.
Selected Survey Responses 133Â Â Respondentâs Write-in Comment(s) about Transit Planning Challenges Should we be the mobility integrator? Should we consider land development regulations that would improve bus stop facilities? Similar to E -- We expect the 2020 Census to cause us to become a TMA, which will change our federal funding, effectively lessening how much money we will receive for operations. Some of the trailer parks in the area do not maintain the roads and parking. Makes it a nightmare for the buses to pick up riders. Specifically, what are the service and budget implication of converting to battery electric vehicles? Staff Training to understand First-/Last-mile transportation issues. Staff training. Staffing issues. Not having enough drivers due to State legalizing marijuana and the Feds keeping it on the testing list. Staffing with the National shortage of qualified drivers, staying competitive without having the funding to offer competitive wages. Staffing. Very hard to find qualified applicants. Successful implementation and maintenance of technology, cyber security, qualified IT personnel, mobile fare payment systems, trip planning software, on time performance, long- range financial sustainability, capital replacement, etc. Sustaining fares so that increases prevent passengers from utilizing services. Funding for Capital costs. Technology has been a leap into the future; having staff able to grasp how to work in new IT environments and making sure âmore than one personâ understands the technology is imperative. Of course, there are a host of different technologies in use which makes a âone size fits allâ plan for training, nearly impossible. (Plus, by the time staff gathers an understanding, technology is obsolete and you must move on to a newer technology; the cycle starts over again.) Technology has gotten far ahead of our limited staffing ability to manage it. We have some high-powered technology such as CAD/AVL, but we donât have the time and expertise to use all of its functions. The biggest issue is finding sustainable, growing, reliable and adequate funding at the federal and state levels. The Federal funding resources are not adequate to meet the increased demands of growing communities. (A-B). Existing transportation systems apply for increased capital purchases that can be delayed/denied because of $ amount available. Vehicles are often used beyond what is considered their useful life because replacement vehicles are not available.
134 Innovative Practices for Transit Planning at Small to Mid-Sized Agencies Respondentâs Write-in Comment(s) about Transit Planning Challenges The geographic growth of urban areas into adjacent suburban and rural areas increases the mileage required to provide transportation to the most riders. The farther the growth, the thinner the resources are spread, and the more the returns on investment diminish. Urban growth into other areas, once seen as a positive, should be restrained. The issue of Verizon not supporting 3G equipment. The incorporation of 5G. The issues faced for [agency] seem to be more at the state level than Federal. With the state being the DR for 5311, 5310, and rural 5339, DOTâs rules and regulations do not always follow the FTA, often being more restrictive. The other significant planning challenge is NOT having a planner. Iâm... responsible for HR, Planning, Outreach, Facility Development, etc., etc., etc. There have been times were there is federal funding available and some of the smaller transit agencies sometimes donât even have local matching funds to be able to apply for the federal funds, and this is where in-kind contributions come in to play for them. There is a mindset that transit IS a grant funded service such that no other funding is needed. Itâs a barrier we hope to be addressing in the years to come. There is certainly a lot of buzz around new technologies (e.g., âmicrotransitâ), but itâs not clear how their implementation will scale to smaller transit agencies or what advantages they actually confer. Thereâs a lot of hype, but itâs not clear how productive many of these highly publicized services actually are. (Marginally better than dial-a-ride?) I can imagine that most of us donât have the resources to build our own customized solutions, so I assume itâll also take time for the various transit dispatching software providers to integrate these solutions before their widespread acceptance at smaller agencies. This is a constant struggle. With limited funding available to transit agencies, it is important to be involved with agencies and the communities to provide the best forms of transportation with the limited funding available for transit. There will always be trips that transit cannot provide, but working with the agencies and communities helps. This is an ongoing issue. With City and County budget cuts, that impacts their support of transit. Though all systems face and operate with a shortfall of funds, the system is penalized if they identify creative opportunities to generate income to offset the losses. If POS contracts can be added to a system without impacting the general population, then they should be encouraged and do reduce the federal share for this value-added service. Timeliness. On-demand Ride Share Market Competition. Line addition. Line expansion. Small motorized bike/scooters integration. To survive long term, public transit must capture choice riders. Weâre evaluating every option we can think of to make the service as attractive as possible and aiming to compete with single occupant vehicles directly. Of particular focus has been automated vehicles.
Selected Survey Responses 135Â Â Respondentâs Write-in Comment(s) about Transit Planning Challenges Too much hype on Lyft and Uber services. Good for urban areas but not the answer in rural areas. A private operation should not receive any federal or state dollars. Tough to understand, much less comply with, abundant and ever-changing and increasing federal regulations. Training employees on new technology. Training, training, training. Transit agencies really have to use planning to try to spread their funding as much as possible, providing quality transportation for the people. Keeping vehicles operating is always a struggle with older vehicles and trying to make them last longer than anticipated until funding is available for new vehicles. Transit asset management challenges? How do we continue to maintain and eventually replace an aging fleet? Transit Oriented Development. We have worked extensively with [city] to make comprehensive plan amendments, zoning code changes, and land development regulations to ease the development of transit-oriented development within [county]. Transportation between small rural communities due to length of trip, cost of the trips, and resources such as vehicles and drivers. Financial support from the communities. Transportation software... Transporting customers. Sufficient shelters. Service coverage. Off State route coverage. Lack of bike share or small micro mobility programs. Trying to find replacement drivers because many of our drivers are nearing retirement age. Unaffordability of housing causing more people to move out of the city, but still want transit service, which is not financially feasible. Also NIMBY objections to density that is transit- supportive. Understanding the most effective land use patterns for transit use. Undocumented aliens. Urban sprawl can result in federal funds being reallocated to urban from rural pots. The urban systems in our area do not expand to serve the expanded area, although the systems receive more funds. Using demand response services to serve areas with lower ridership demand (i.e., areas that cannot support traditional fixed route/fixed schedule transit service). Usually Transit is overlooked in development plans. We try to stay up with any new developments and offer input during the planning stages Utilizing partnerships with other transportation providers - taxis, TNCs, etc.
136 Innovative Practices for Transit Planning at Small to Mid-Sized Agencies Respondentâs Write-in Comment(s) about Transit Planning Challenges UZ designation in urban areas that do not provide transit services is a problem for those residents that used the 5311 service. Concern is Census only looks at density and no other socio-economic indicators. We already work with local jurisdictions on complete streets planning and bike/ped/roadway projects. Key is being at the table early on. We also want to utilize technology such as route software and iPads but need the local match funding as well as help setting it up. We are already providing first-/last-mile transportation with Uber, taxi, and wheelchair vans. One challenge is that the subsidy we provide still requires most people to pay out of pocket for the first-/last-mile trip, and many of our riders who are already on a reduced bus pass cannot afford on a regular basis. Our fixed-route service isnât adequate to attract âchoiceâ riders just because of first-/last-mile services. Getting good on-demand wheelchair van service is also a challenge because those companies generally schedule service in advance and work off daily manifests. We are blessed to work hand in glove with [city], who ties new construction with transit needs. Last mile is always an issue. We are currently going through safety studies, and our MPO is working on safe access to school with multiple sidewalk projects. We are not working with other agencies on first and last mile. While [county] is largely rural, the [Interstate] corridor is mostly Urban. We are currently in a microtransit planning study to identify opportunities for first-mile/last- mile and what pockets, if any, of the City are underserved. We are currently working on a short-medium transportation plan. We are seeing more people using our services that do not speak English. This can be a challenge. We are the direct recipient for two UZAs. One has dedicated funding and one does not. This year, with the Census, it is projected we will have one UZA. Last year, we saw a 4 percent increase in ridership. We are very likely to move from small urban to large urban after the 2020 Census, and the implications for FTA formula funding are significant. Weâre trying to create a plan to deal with this in case it happens. We believe that we have some solutions to some of the challenges noted but cannot gain the support from superiors and elected officials to fund some of the proposed solutions. So the added category may be âHow can we build support of decision-makers?â We deal with not being able to provide all of the transportation needs of the riders. It could be due to hours [and] days of our operation, so there are times we can get them to their destination but cannot get them back to where they started.
Selected Survey Responses 137Â Â Respondentâs Write-in Comment(s) about Transit Planning Challenges We did a major rework of our bus route system in 2014. This initiative has addressed many of the challenges above. We continue to monitor and make appropriate changes. We are opening the [facility] in spring of 2020 that will continue our service connections and efficiencies. We had very basic technology in our system and are adding AVL and APC, so we can do a better job of monitoring where our riders are using the service the most. We have been able to improve some areas of our service with increased service and newer vehicles. Surveys give us some indication of satisfaction and can be given to passengers by various means. We recently were awarded a grant that will be developed for our riders to know where the bus is. We aggressively seek grants that will allow us to move ahead and give our customer more new technology options. We have been experiencing this within our service area, where new developments are being built away from current transit options and the developers not including transit agencies as part of the discussion of the new development initially but are wanting transit options after the fact. In these instances, due to limited funding, we are not able to meet all the transit needs within our service area. C and D, particularly around incentivizing higher-density development around train stations in all of our urban, small urban, and rural markets. We have developed a source that provides adequate local match to adequately meet Federal shares. We have difficulty getting planners who understand the challenges we face because of our relative isolation, so the solutions they develop are based upon models developed for areas of more dense population. More often than not, the plans developed cannot be effectively implemented because the planning consultants do not understand this or refuse to believe we canât be âshoehornedâinto some of the more modern approaches to community and service planning. We are a small urban area that most closely resembles a rural area. We have had issues in the past when places such as Senior living or hospitals will develop a location without communicating with the transit in their area. They want us to provide the transportation but maybe will build outside the areas we service with our routes. If places would contact the transit companies in their area prior to picking the land for their buildings, then we could have input on the types of services they would be able to utilize. We have issues with all four, our planning office, and MPO office. It is very difficult to respond to customer wishes after the facts. We have never done first-mile/last-mile as we try to cover the whole city limits. We have new commercial development and are planning to provide them service when complete.
138 Innovative Practices for Transit Planning at Small to Mid-Sized Agencies Respondentâs Write-in Comment(s) about Transit Planning Challenges We have seen a drastic drop in ridership. We went through bureaucratic hoops and it failed again. We went back and redid the routes per passengersâ and public and driversâ comments, and it has picked up. We are still unable to afford the funding to add routes where needed. We have a planning office that never brings us on board for any changes or additions to the land use, even though it is in the planning documents. We will be heavily involved in the 2020 Census. We have seen a shift from expanding in the suburbs to revamping warehouse districts closer to the downtown area. How do we keep up with these shifts and how will they affect ridership? We need planners who understand the nuances and intangible factors of planning transit, and land use, in remote areas. In order to assist our users, we do a number of things that todayâs trained planners consider âwrong.â One of the issues that is often mentioned to us by planning consultants is that we should âreduce our fixed route footprint.â We have determined time and again that this is a wrong approach as it reduces services and raises service costs, yet consultants still come up with this comment, and elected officials, who donât understand our unique circumstance, insist we take heed of this. We need to grow fleet and service levels but donât have the public support to do so. We have completed a scope for comprehensive fixed-route scheduling, paratransit scheduling, and a fully integrated ITS system. We have a growing aging population, and Older Americans Act funding only goes so far in meeting those needs. We are part of [region] and feel there are inequities in our 5307 allocations. We are also a small urbanized area in [city]... We need more generation-specific services to meet the demands of younger Americans. We have a significant homeless population that impacts public health on a number of levels, including political. We need a significant infusion of capital funds to modernize our fleet and retire aging vehicles. We have significant facility needs such that even if we had budgeted positions we would have nowhere to put them. We were approved for formation in November 2013. We are a very young transit system, serving a very large county... with a 2017 estimated population of [number] (less than 8 people per square mile). To look at that more closely, the population of the incorporated parts of the county is [number], while the majority ([number]) people live outside of the small towns and cities. The towns and cities range from a population of [small number] to [smaller number] people. Our challenge is building ridership and serving the greatest number of people possible, because we are sales tax-supported by all of the citizens of the county. We would like to increase our ridership. We are in a rural area with small townships surrounding our home city. We are planning on surveying the surrounding communities to see if transportation is needed. If it is a need, it would require additional funds to start and support the expansion. Weâre a bit of a unique duck (commuter rail paired with small urban and rural bus services), so the positive train control mandate has hampered our funding outlook. It has otherwise consumed federal and matching funding that would have improved service, maintained
Selected Survey Responses 139Â Â Respondentâs Write-in Comment(s) about Transit Planning Challenges assets, etc., and the long-term O&M implications are not entirely clear. That aside, I can imagine that the TAM and PTASP rules have also placed additional pressure on transit agencies, siphoning time and/or money. Weâre especially struggling to get productivity out of our small urban and rural fixed routes, much of which may be a function of improper design, too-low frequency, low density, etc. Weâve been looking into Microtransit as a method for cost effectively serving some of our smaller density areas of the region. What first- and last-mile connections should we focus on? Underserved populations in low density areas. What impact will emerging technologies like AVs have on employment? Will operators affected be retrained for other positions or lose their jobs outright? What is the best way to merge urban city transit with rural county transit services? What other industries should we be looking at in terms of technological development? What resources (such as staff, equipment, funds, and training) are needed to support the new technologies and get the most value out of them? So far, we have not implemented any scheduling or dispatch software. We only have two office staff s o, while implementing new technology could help us run more efficiently, it is difficult to find time to make that transition and educate drivers and staff. What software can we use to maximize transit planning and service delivery, including scheduling of routes and staff? What tools and investments do we need in order to develop and manage a particular type of service? Iâm interested in best practices and lessons learned for all the above. When we take a bus load into an urban area with traffic congestion, we would love to be able for our passengers to access the ADA transportation in that city. We would love to see all small transit systems be able to pick up other countiesâ passengers and distribute to a secure area, with restrooms, snack machines, and Wi-Fi and be able to wait comfortably for their return ride home. Where can we get training on service design and service planning? Iâm interested in best practices and lessons learned for all the above on some level. Which emerging technologies could help us improve performance? Technologies and length of time due to Federal requirements for procurement. Which vehicle types are most appropriate for serving our planned services? Which funding source(s) can best be used to ensure sustainability and/or growth of services? While [county]âs population is 25%+ 65 and older, this population makes up a very small percent of our ridership. How do we better serve this market? Will first-/last-mile transportation reduce the need to provide coverage routes?
140 Innovative Practices for Transit Planning at Small to Mid-Sized Agencies Respondentâs Write-in Comment(s) about Transit Planning Challenges Why implement new technology when sufficient staff and resources are not available to implement and maintain those technologies? With our program being mostly rural and only 4 drivers on the road each day, we have a hard time servicing everyone that needs transportation because they are all spread out. Work needs to be done communicating transit needs as land usage changes. Communication with other city and county planners is key. Still there needs to be more coordination with Urban development. Working effectively with other local governments/state government to improve accessibility to bus stops. Working with many various local special interests (neighborhood, bike, walking, pedestrian, minorities, etc.) and the requests for attendance at meetings, and the impact on a small staff. Working with MPO for funding.