AARP – Rightsizing Transportation Technology for Rural America & RideSheet: A Transportation Technology Solution for Rural America

  • Author: Jana Lynott, AARP Public Policy Institute
  • Date: June 1, 2021

 

AARP‘s Jana Lynott recently released two blogs exploring Ridesheet, a new open-source ride scheduling software application developed through funding from AARP. Read their introductions before heading over to  the full piece.

 

Rightsizing Transportation Technology for Rural America

When it comes to technology, many rural transportation providers face a mismatch between their needs and what’s on the market today, particularly in terms of ride-scheduling software solutions. Software developers make assumptions about the agencies that will use their products, the services they provide, the availability of IT staff to monitor and maintain systems, and more. If an agency happens to fit in those boxes, off-the-shelf products could work quite well. However, for a small transit agency or transportation service in a rural area, operations may not align with any of these assumptions.

That was certainly the case for two nonprofit transportation providers—Inner Court Family Center (ICFC) and Lake County Senior Center Association (LCSCA) in highly rural Lake County, Oregon. The two nonprofits wanted to streamline ride-scheduling tasks and communication with drivers, make billing more transparent, and gain insights into cost drivers such as road conditions and trip distances. But they found off-the-shelf software solutions too complex and expensive for their needs.

 

RideSheet: A Transportation Technology Solution for Rural America

Locals refer to Lake County, Oregon as the “rural outback.” This stunningly beautiful high desert location is known for cattle ranching, agriculture, timber production, and ample outdoor recreational opportunities. The county’s 8,100 residents are spread out across more than 8,200 square miles. In Lake County, transportation challenges can be more than a mere inconvenience. Residents must travel more than 100 miles to reach a health care specialist. Over 25 percent of the population is over the age of 65 and many of these older residents depend on others to drive them these longer distances.

Inner Court Family Center (ICFC) and Lake County Senior Center Association (LCSCA) are the only transportation providers in the county. There are no buses or taxis, nor is there any Uber. ICFC and LCSCA are it—providing transportation to medical appointments in Bend and Portland and to life’s various local destinations. As is true for most rural transportation providers, long travel distances put a crimp on limited budgets and pose scheduling challenges.

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