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South Dakota Department of Transportation
Project Synopsis

Title: Costs and Benefits of Public Transit in South Dakota
Project Researcher: ,
Project Manager: Dave Huft
Research Period: -
Cost: $0.00

Problem Statement:{\rtf1\ansi\ansicpg1252\deff0\deflang1033{\fonttbl{\froman\fprq2\fcharset0 Times New Roman; \viewkind4\uc1


Public transit is often viewed as a benefit to the people who use it but, because federal transit funding requires local match, as an economic cost to the local community. In absence of objective information about the relative magnitude of costs and benefits, local officials and constituents find it difficult to determine whether, and to what extent, to invest in public transit.

Costs of operating public transit are well documented, but the economic benefits can be more difficult to quantify. Direct economic benefits include employment of a variety of positions including drivers, mechanics, dispatchers, bookkeepers, and program directors. In addition, transit agencies purchase fuel, repairs, insurance, and other items that contribute to the local economy. Providing access to employment, education, commerce, and health care also contribute to the economic vitality of both the riders and the communities served. The availability of public transit allows some riders to obtain services and maintain residency in smaller, more affordable communities and enables communities to operate facilities-such as health care and assisted living-that depend upon transportation services to aid their clientele. This improves access to affordable social care and avoids more expensive public and private care alternatives. In turn, these services contribute substantially to local economies. In many cases, public transit provides connection to intercity bus service or constitutes the only available substitute for retired intercity service.

Other societal benefits are likewise attributed to public transit. Access to education, employment, and health care contributes to the personal welfare of riders and the social fabric of communities. Transit can provide safer travel for riders, especially the young, elderly, and disabled, and reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. These benefits, as well as economic benefits, may be gaining significance in light of economic and demographic changes within the state.

Local and state governments, transit agencies, and local constituencies need credible and objective information on costs as well as economic and societal benefits to support their decisions regarding investment in public transportation.


Research Objectives:
1  To develop a detailed methodology for assessing economic benefits of public transit at the local and statewide levels.
2   To estimate the economic costs and benefits of public transit in South Dakota.
3  To identify and describe social, environmental, and other intangible benefits of public transit in South Dakota.
4  To describe recent and current funding mechanisms and levels for public transit in South Dakota.
5  To develop concise educational material summarizing the costs, benefits, and funding of public transit operations in South Dakota.

Research Tasks:
1  Meet with the project's technical oversight panel to review the project scope and work plan.
2  Conduct interviews with transit providers, public officials, and other contacts suggested by the project's technical oversight panel to identify factors that affect actual or perceived costs and benefits associated with public transit in South Dakota
3  Propose a grouping of South Dakota's public transit operations into categories that will permit convenient but sound characterization and analysis of costs, tangible benefits, and intangible benefits.
4  Propose for approval of the project's technical oversight panel a detailed methodology for characterizing, analyzing, and documenting costs, tangible benefits, and intangible benefits of transit operations within the public transit categories defined
5  Upon approval of the project's technical oversight panel, demonstrate the application of the methodology in at least one transit operation in each public transit category.
6  Prepare and submit for approval of the project's technical oversight panel a technical memorandum summarizing the demonstration of the methodology and recommending needed changes or enhancements.
7  Upon approval of the project's technical oversight panel, make needed enhancements and apply the methodology to complete analysis of each public transit category and to statewide public transit operations.
8  Describe recent and current funding mechanisms and levels for public transit in South Dakota.
9  Develop an educational brochure or other material that concisely communicates the costs, benefits, and funding of public transit in South Dakota.
10  In conformance with Guidelines for Performing Research for the South Dakota Department of Transportation, prepare a final report and executive summary of the research methodology, findings, conclusions, and recommendations.
11  Make executive presentations to the SDDOT Research Review Board and the Dakota Transit Association at the conclusion of the project.

Documents Available:

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