Cost-Benefit Analysis of Rural and Small Urban Transit

Transit systems in rural and small urban areas are often viewed as valuable community assets due to the increased mobility they provide to those without other means of travel. The value of those services, however, has been largely unmeasured, and there are often impacts that go unidentified. Benefits to the public transit user include lower-cost trips, new trips that are made, and relocation avoidance. The alternative means of travel for transit users, which may involve purchasing an automobile or paying for a taxi ride, are often more expensive. Many studies have documented the benefits of urban transit systems by benefit-cost analysis. However, there are fewer studies examining the benefits of transit in small urban and rural transit systems where there is a great need for transit among the public and especially among transportation-disadvantaged individuals. This study focuses on the qualitative and quantitative benefits of small urban and rural public transit systems in the United States. First, a thorough review of previous literature is presented. Then, a framework is developed which focuses on three main areas of transit benefits most relevant to rural and small urban areas: transportation cost savings, low-cost mobility benefits, and economic development impacts. Data for small urban and rural transits systems from the National Transit Database (NTD) and Rural NTD were used for calibrating the transit benefits and costs. The benefits, costs, and benefit-cost analysis results of small urban and rural transit for this study are presented nationally, regionally (Federal Transit Administration (FTA) regions), and locally (statewide). Sensitivity analysis was also conducted to illustrate how the national transit benefits and benefit-cost ratios vary with changes in key variables. With estimated benefit-cost ratios greater than 1, the results show that the benefits provided by transit services in rural and small urban areas are greater than the costs of providing those services.

  • Record URL:
  • Supplemental Notes:
    • This document was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation, University Transportation Centers Program.
  • Corporate Authors:

    Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute

    Small Urban and Rural Transit Center, North Dakota State University, P.O. Box 6050
    Fargo, ND  United States  58108-6050

    National Center for Transit Research

    Center for Urban Transportation Research, University of South Florida
    4202 East Fowler Avenue, CUT 100
    Tampa, FL  United States  33620

    Research and Innovative Technology Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Authors:
    • Godavarthy, Ranjit
    • Mattson, Jeremy
    • Ndembe, Elvis
  • Publication Date: 2014-7

Language

  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Edition: Final Report
  • Features: Appendices; Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 77p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01530873
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: 21177060-NCTR-NDSU03
  • Files: UTC, TRIS, RITA, ATRI, USDOT
  • Created Date: Jul 3 2014 10:13AM