GAO recommends FTA develop improved communications for rural transit

70% of the transit stakeholders said it is difficult to coordinate transit services in rural communities

January 13, 2020
GAO recommends improved communication for rural transit services
Image: GAO

A recently published 36-page report to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) recommends the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) develop a communication plan that will "effectively share information with state and local stakeholders on coordination opportunities in an accessible and informative way" specifically for rural transit services.

"Coordination of rural transportation services across geographic jurisdictions and federal- and state-funding sources has the potential to reduce costs and improve services," the GAO report says. "Such coordination by transit agencies in rural areas can lead to efficiencies. "

According to GAO, 70% of the transit stakeholders it interviewed for the study said that it is difficult to coordinate transit services in rural communities with limited resources, such as funding, staff, and technology. For example, three rural transit providers said that program managers sometimes assume multiple duties, such as a driver and dispatcher, a practice that affects their time and ability to coordinate. GAO says certain rural and tribal transit providers said they were engaged in various coordination efforts to improve rural transit services—including coordinating trips and sharing resources.

The GAO also says that the FTA has several efforts under way to facilitate coordination, but "results are mixed." The GAO drew attention to the fact that FTA and the federal interagency Coordinating Council on Access and Mobility issued a strategic plan in October 2019, outlining their strategic goals. However, they have yet to submit to Congress a final report containing recommendations for enhancing interagency coordination. FTA officials told the GAO they plan to submit the report by September 2020.

Additionally, GAO said it found limitations with FTA's current information-sharing approach for the state and local level. "These limitations make information on coordination-related issues difficult to identify and access," the report says. "Stakeholders want additional information from FTA on leading coordination practices, such as ways to coordinate with other providers."

GAO says that the FTA partially concurred with their recommendation. 

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SOURCE: U.S. Government Accountability Office

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