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TRB 24th National Conference on Rural Public and Intercity Bus Transportation

Charleston, South Carolina
October 18-21, 2020



Submission Deadline:  March 1st, 2020 - Closed


The Conference Planning Committee for the 24th National Conference on Rural Public and Intercity Bus Transportation (to be held October 17-21, 2020 in Charleston, SC) seeks proposals for presentations to be included in one of the 25 breakout conference sessions. Conference workshops and panels are organized around five routes (see details below). We welcome presentations of interest to our audience of rural and tribal transit managers, human service transportation managers, rural and regional planners, rural intercity bus operators, State DOT and human service staff, researchers, and others with an interest in rural transportation. Presentation proposals should address how transportation services impact lives and create measurable benefits in rural and tribal communities. Each route is listed with a list of illustrative topics. The lists are by no means exhaustive but are provided as inspirational guidance.

Abstracts will be accepted until March 1st, 2020. Abstracts will then be reviewed by the conference planning committee; you will be contacted once a decision is made about your proposed presentation or if more information is needed. We expect to send acceptance notifications by the end of March 2020.

Thank you for your interest and dedication to improving mobility through rural, tribal, and intercity transportation services!

 Abstract Type

Route 1: Planning, Design and Research

The Planning, Design, and Research route focuses on research and best practice with specific interest in new and innovative designs, proven best practices, and/or recently-completed research on (1) rural and tribal transit planning (2) intercity bus planning (3) public lands/national park transportation planning, and (4) coordination and mobility management strategies. Examples for possible presentations as they pertain to the four types of transportation above include:

  • Planning and Evaluation: Market-driven service planning - using market data to plan the “right” service types; Innovative approaches to rural feeder services and regional connector services; Rural on-demand services – direct operation vs. use of rideshare (e.g., Uber, Lyft, etc); Developing a connected statewide transit network; Regional approaches to – and the results of -- consolidating agencies; Innovative use of performance measures — purpose, data collection, analysis and use of performance data in service planning; Planning for emergency response/safety management planning.
  • Outreach/Marketing: New innovative approaches to public/stakeholder outreach as part of the planning process; How rural transit agencies are using innovative marketing strategies (e.g., social networks) to enhance customer mobility.
  • Coordination and Mobility Management: How have Medicaid NEMT brokerage systems enhanced or thwarted coordination; How customers are using state-wide and regional one call-one click linkages to connect to rides–evaluation of results; How agencies are using one call-one click linkages as centerpieces for supporting mobility management strategies; and Innovative mobility management solutions that enhance rural mobility.

Route 2: Policy, Funding and Finance

The Policy, Funding, and Finance route focuses on federal, state and local funding issues of rural and intercity bus transportation. This route includes topics on environmental justice, civil rights, ADA accessibility, public involvement, charter, the transit funding environment in the absence of earmarks, public/private funding strategies, and more. Examples of topics for this route include but are not limited to:

  • Civil rights and environmental justice
  • Funding utilization within states,
  • The social and economic impact of transit services on rural communities and their residents,
  • Tribal set-aside funding,  intercity bus set-aside;
  • Competing for capital grants against other types of infrastructure (e.g., BUILD);
  • Uses of State Medicaid funding;
  • New partnerships for local match;
  • Medicaid funding;
  • Cost allocation;
  • Program reporting innovations; and
  • Funding partnerships with intercity bus companies.
  • Federal compliance;
  • Qualified Human Services Organization (QHSO) with regards to charter service compliance; and
  • Annexation of rural communities in urban planning organizations (UZA) (census data). How is allocation handled?

Route 3: Special Topics on Rural Mobility

The Special Topics on Rural Mobility route addresses the changing face of rural transportation through changes in demographics, economic development efforts, “aging out” of transit managers, and innovation or best practice. Examples of topics for this route might include but are not limited to:

  • How rural transit has changed lives and strengthened communities (real-life stories/testimonials, economic improvements/new jobs/aging-in place, local investment from community-tie between local support and transit benefits);
  • Transit's role in aging in place in rural communities;
  • NEMT (e.g., brokerage operations and their effects on rural transportation services; coordination -or not- between rural transportation services and NEMT);
  • Economic and social benefits to rural communities from increased access to public lands by rural transit and intercity bus;
  • Tribal transportation innovation/integration/coordination;
  • Assuring the sustainability/long-term viability of rural transit agencies (e.g., funding, succession planning, management, and local support);
  • Innovative options for employment transportation for residents of rural communities; and
  • Emergency evacuation assistance (e.g., the role of rural transit in natural disaster response, tracking services provided during disaster and clean-up, or role of non-profits providing service and receiving reimbursement).
  • Shared mobility, microtransit. and mobility as a service

Route 4: Rural and Tribal Transportation in Today’s Operating Environment

The Rural and Tribal Transportation in Today’s Operating Environment route focuses on research and best practices to address the changing operating environment in which rural, tribal, and intercity services must operate and the challenges faced by transit managers, state transit program managers, and community planners. Examples of topics for this route might include but are not limited to:

  • Human resource management for a changing workforce (e.g., workforce development; succession planning; mentoring; recruitment and retention in the face of changes in minimum wage/livable wage legislation, legalized marijuana use, and aging workforce housing shortages and population.; credentialing and training; and performance evaluation;
  • Affordable, innovative marketing approaches (e.g. effective use of social media; reaching targeted markets such as older populations, those with limited English proficiency, students, and others);
  • Research and innovations in passenger assistance (imagining beyond lifts and securements). What does travel training look like in rural communities and does it make a difference?
  • Innovations in disaster recovery and emergency evacuation planning, including considerations for special populations;
  • Best practices in developing and maintaining safety plans for rural, tribal and intercity bus transit;
  • The impact of innovative operating partnerships on improved mobility in rural communities, including rural TNCs; and
  • Challenges and innovations for maintenance planning and implementation for small rural and tribal agencies (e.g., access to facilities, new vehicle technologies, specialized equipment, CNG, electric vehicles and charging stations, etc.)

Route 5: Better Mobility through Technology

The Better Mobility through Technology route focuses on how technology improves services with new developments for information capture, management, and sharing. Technology can provide tools and methods to address challenges and create responsive services. Implementing technology may also present its own challenges during implementation, use and replacement. This route seeks presentations about how technology is being used to address a problem, pursue service improvements, or meet a requirement. Presenters will be asked to highlight how technology addressed needs, outcomes, and lessons learned. Examples of potential topics for this track might include but are not limited to:

  • Low-cost, easy-to- use technology tools to support rural, intercity, and tribal agencies in planning, administrative, operation functions;
  • Communication with vehicles, in rural areas, parks, between systems, with emergency management agencies;
  • Backend and public-facing definition of service network for passengers, agencies, and the public for coordinated or interoperated services (e.g., fare, services, trip planning, service planning, etc.);
  • Technology development partnerships: state consortiums, regional consortiums, private sector partnerships (e.g., Google Transit);
  • How data exchange can improve service and simplify management;
  • Technology tools for cost allocation;
  • Technology tools supporting asset management, safety, security, and reporting;
  • Technology options for training and staff development sustaining program capacity;
  • Technology tools and innovations in transport and wayfinding of riders using wheelchairs and mobility devices;
  • Technology tools and innovations for intercity bus travel;
  • Technology to link users to rides; and
  • Narrow banding/ARRA Fiber.

All conference participants will be required to register. Registration information and fees will be available on TRB's Calendar website. 

QuestionsPlease contact:  Claire Randall & Steve Andrle