The United States Department of Transportation offers a number of financial assistance programs designed to assist in the provision of local public transportation services. This includes many programs specifically targeted to transit that are generally found within the 5300 series of Part 49 of the United States Code. The FTA has designated the administrative and oversight responsibility of these programs to the Iowa DOT. The FTA requires that each state that is designated to produce a "state management plan" documenting its policies and procedures to be used in administering the FTA programs. This document sets forth the policies and procedures established for these programs in the state of Iowa. For more details, see the attached document.
The Iowa Department of Transportation conducted a study to identify and evaluate alternatives for commuter transportation in one of Iowa's major travel corridors, the Interstate 380 corridor. Iowa DOT is interested in alternatives that enhance mobility options and expand transportation options for commuters, reduce wear and tear on the highway system, and decrease traffic congestion along primary corridors. To accomplish this, the Iowa Commuter Transportation Study identified the existing and future commuter needs in the corridor and determined the viability of various commuter transportation alternatives to address those needs.
In an effort to identify both current transportation services and unmet transportation needs for veterans in the state, the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) undertook a study of veteran transportation service providers. With the assistance of the University of Northern Iowa Center for Social & Behavioral Research (CSBR), organizations providing transportation to veterans were contacted for a brief telephone interview to provide a summary of contact details, services, capacity, and basic policies. This project resulted in the creation of a database for veteran transportation providers in Iowa, that will be accessed through a one-call/one-click center.
The 2012 Iowa Code section 324A.4, subsection 2, states the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) shall biennially prepare a report to be submitted to the general assembly and the governor prior to December 15 of even-numbered years. The report shall recommend methods to increase transportation coordination and improve the efficiency of federal, state, and local government programs used to finance public transit services and may address other topics as appropriate.
Iowa has long been a leader in transportation coordination, from designated public transit agencies covering all 99 counties with little duplication, to requiring any agency receiving public dollars for the provision of transportation to first coordinate with the local public transit agency before providing the transportation on their own, to the creation of the Iowa Transportation Coordination Council.
Coordination allows Iowa to provide much needed transportation services to the citizens of Iowa with the most efficient use of public funds. Coordination has been an important topic in Iowa for many years, but during these times of economic constraint and restraint and Iowas changing demographics, coordination of transportation services becomes even more critical.
Legislative actions and economic conditions of the last several years have combined to create a climate in which transit can play a more central role in the quality of life and energy conservation for all Iowans. From an economic perspective, increasing congestion in the metro areas, volatile fuel prices, continued urbanization of the state, and escalating institutional healthcare costs for seniors all create opportunities to rethink passenger transportation service and funding in the state. The Iowa General Assembly, recognizing the changing social and environmental landscape of the mobility needs of Iowans, directed the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT), in cooperation with the Iowa Office of Energy Independence (OEI) and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR), to complete the Iowa Passenger Transportation Funding Study.
Transportation is important to accessing health care. Many Iowans have ready access and typically use private automobiles to access health care and other community services. However, there is also a significant segment of the population that either does not have access to a personal automobile or is not currently capable of driving. This can potentially limit their access to health care, but it has greater health implications because it can also limit access to nutrition and other community services, as well as involvement in social activities. For people unable to drive themselves, the alternatives generally include reliance on family, friends, volunteer groups and public transit. Many choose transit because it gives them a degree of independence. Public transit is often used to supplement other options even when they are available. It becomes critical in circumstances where the other options do not exist. In many cases, there may be no family available or they may not always be able to get off work when travel needs arise during the workday. Friends may be in similar circumstances and volunteer groups may be either unavailable or overwhelmed.
The fact that many patients depend on public transit to get to and from health care appointments makes it beneficial for health care professionals to get to know more about public transit and how it operates here in Iowa.
Maintenance and administrative facilities are essential to deliver reliable and safe public transit services. Iowa's 35 public transit systems carry passengers daily to work, school and medical appointments. Transit service is essential to their well being and quality of life. Maintenance and administrative facilities are critical to sustaining the mission of public transit in the state of Iowa. In October 2005, Iowa transit managers were surveyed to determine baseline facility conditions, functional space available, fleet composition, and expected fleet growth.
Large urban transit systems accounted for 664 vehicles in 2005, projected to grow 17 percent to 775 by 2025. For large urban systems, comparing calculated maintenance space needs for 2005 against actual space available based on survey results indicated a need for 65,000 square feet ; a 43 percent shortfall.
The small urban systems account for the smallest fleet group, 94 vehicles in 2005 and no projected growth. Small urban systems show no systematic shortfall of operations space, but like large urban agencies, the small urban systems show a 43 percent shortfall in maintenance space for 2005. This is about 10,000 square feet and the shortfall exceeds the 25 percent guideline. The pattern of need in this category is the same as for large urban systems.
The 16 regional systems account for the largest transit fleet in Iowa; 825 vehicles. Very little growth was projected in 2005. However, the regional systems show a collective shortfall of 16,000 square feet of operations space, 20% on average in 2005. This is within the 25% guideline range statewide, but indicates that several systems are tight on operations space.
The 2003 Iowa General Assembly asked the Iowa DOT to conduct a study of Iowa public policy regarding coordination of public transit services and school transportation. This report describes the efficiencies that may be obtained by coordinating transit management and maintenance systems in the areas of school transportation, public transit, and other forms of public transportation. This report contains background information on Iowa's transit systems, school bus systems, and instances of coordination between them.
The DBE program is a U.S. DOT program designed to ensure nondiscrimination in the award and administration of U.S. DOT funded contracts and create a level playing field on which DBE firms can compete fairly for these contracts. The program requires agencies receiving funding from the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Transit Administration, and the Federal Aviation Administration to make good faith efforts to find and use DBE firms when possible. For DBE assistance regarding or Federal Transit Administration (FTA) contact the Iowa DOT’s Public Transit Section at 515-239-1875. To obtain an application or further technical assistance, please contact the Office of Civil Rights.
In early 2002, the Iowa DOT engaged a consultant to help develop a statewide transit intelligent transportation system (ITS) plan. Iowa DOT intended to provide a means for transit agencies in the state's rural and small urban communities to utilize ITS applications to support and enhance transit operations. Although several of the state's transit agencies have implemented ITS applications, most agencies continue to rely on manual procedures for operations, management, and customer service functions. While the project has been technology-oriented, it also supports the broader objectives of the State of Iowa, as well as the participating communities. Foremost among these objectives is to provide efficient and effective transit services that meet the needs of rural and small urban communities. The implementation of technology is, therefore, not for technology's sake; it is to improve transit services. ITS technology is a tool, and the project has defined a way of deploying these tools to serve transit agencies and transit users throughout the state.
The Intelligent Transportation Systems Deployment Plan for Large Urban Transit Systems is a road map that will assist the large urban transit systems in Iowa in improving their services through the use of ITS technologies. ITS technologies are hardware and software systems that can increase the efficiency and safety of public transportation and offers users better information on system operations. The implementation of ITS has been transforming the way public
transportation systems operate. One of the key benefits of ITS is providing public transportation decision-makers with more information with which they can make decisions.