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Center Identification Number:  77933

Project Title: Dynamic Delivery of the National Transit Database Sampling Manual 

Principal Investigator:

Xuehao Chu

Center for Urban Transportation Research
University of South Florida

Phone: 813-974-9831
Fax: 813-974-5168


External Project Contact:     

Daniel Harris
Florida Department of Transportation
Transit Project Manager
Phone: 850-414-4532

Start and End Dates

Start Date:  January 2011               Expected End Date: June 2012

I.  Project Objective/Problem Statement

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) in Spring of 2010 officially released the National Transit Database (NTD) Sampling Manual, which was developed by NCTR in response to an FTA request. This Manual consists of guidance for individual transit agencies for getting sampling plans, collecting sample data, and estimating annual total ridership for meeting FTA requirements. For three decades, FTA has provided guidance for transit agencies in Circulars 2710.1A and 2710.2A. But these current circulars cover only two modes - bus and demand response; they do not reflect the operating conditions of individual agencies; and they do not take advantage of modern sampling techniques. The NTD Sampling Manual overcomes these three shortcomings of the current circulars and is expected to reduce reporting burdens significantly for a wide range of transit agencies. The experiences since the Spring 2010 release have been positive and confirm this expectation.

The FTA wants transit agencies to take advantage of this Manual now but has expressed a desire to convert it into an interactive tool through the Internet. This manual was designed to be comprehensive to cover all modes, service types, units of measurement, methods of sampling and estimation, all steps of data collection and estimation, etc. Being comprehensive, however, also comes with a price – only a small portion of the guidance is directly relevant to any one specific application. Some guidance is common to all applications, but others are unique to one or more applications. Because this Manual is in the traditional static document-based format, it is not practical to separate the guidance for all possible applications. As a result, agencies need to search for the relevant guidance for each application in this format. This is common to the traditional model of static content delivery that pushes technical documents that cover many options and variations to an audience with varying needs.

II. Objectives/Tasks

The objective of this project is to move the NTD Sampling Manual from its current static delivery format to a dynamic delivery format. Instead of pushing an entire manual of many possible applications to the audience, the dynamic delivery format allows an user to pull the specific content that is relevant to the specific application. This would be accomplished by developing an internet-based interactive tool where the full content of the NTD Sampling Manual will be stored in terms of individual topics but only the relevant topics will be dynamically assembled and presented to a user once the user specifies the profile of a specific application. The NTD Sampling Manual consists of a large number of pairs of questions and answers. A natural unit for the topics in the interactive tool would be individual pairs of questions and answers. In addition to dynamically delivering relevant topics, the interactive tool would allow the full content of the NTD Sampling Manual to be easily updated. Accomplishing the objective of this project will help Florida transit agencies meet NTD requirements more effectively at a lower cost.

The following tasks have been designed to accomplish this objective:

Task 1. Project Management – this task will cover project management at CUTR including producing required progress reports and carrying out deliverable reviews before submittal to FDOT.

Task 2. Tool Design – this task will specify desired features of the tool and design the tool accordingly. At a minimum, the tool must allow dynamic content delivery and easy updating of the full NTD Sampling Manual. The need for dynamic content delivery is the primary feature, but easy updating also is critical. The scope and scale of the NTD Sampling Manual may need to be changed over time. In addition, the individual questions and answers may need to be revised within a given scope and scale of the Manual. The research team will work with the FTA in specifying the desired features.

Task 3. Content Preparation – this task will revise the current version of the Manual as recently released by the FTA. The FTA has been getting feedback from NTD reporters that have used or tried to use the Manual for Report Year 2011. This task will incorporate the feedback and any additional changes that the FTA desires into the Manual. More important, this task will prepare the content of the revised Manual for the internet-based tool. Once the details of the tool are specified, the revised Manual in its current static format must be prepared for dynamic delivery. One important aspect of this preparation would be to tag the individual pairs of questions and answers for what their content is in explicit terminology and implicit nesting structure.

Task 4. Development and Testing – this task will develop the tool through implementing the design from Task 2 and populating the tool with the tagged content of the Manual from Task 3. In addition, this task will test the draft internet-based tool. The test will cover both content management and dynamic content delivery. Testing of dynamic content delivery will determine how well the internet-based tool works for various possible applications of the Manual. Testing of content management will determine how content management works with changes to the Manual and how effectively dynamic content delivery responds to such changes. This task is likely to interact with earlier tasks.

The outcome of this task would be an internet-based interactive tool for dynamic delivery of the NTD Sampling Manual and its future revisions. This tool would be designed and developed so that it can be readily migrated to the NTD website whenever FTA wants to. This tool will likely to be hosted at a temporary website until its migration to the NTD website. The research team will work with the FTA for its review and testing of the tool.

Task 5. Final Report – this task will develop the project final report, including documenting revising the manual, developing the tool, developing a draft report, and revising the draft report. The draft final report would be reviewed internally within CUTR before it is submitted to FDOT for its review. FDOT’s comments on the submitted draft final report would be the basis for developing the final report.

III. Deliverables

This section addresses all deliverables to be produced under this project:

Progress Reports

The university will submit quarterly progress reports to the Research Center. The first report will cover the activity that occurred in the 90 days following the issuance of the task work order.

Reports should be submitted within 30 days of the end of the reporting period. Progress reports should be sent in MS Word to Sandra Bell, .

Progress reports must include the following information: 1. Contract number, task work order number, and title 2. Work performed during the period being reported 3. Work to be performed in the following period 4. Anticipated modifications (i.e., to funding, schedule, or scope). This section is for reporting/informational purposes, not for officially requesting an amendment. 5. A progress schedule updated to reflect activities for the period being reported.

Failure to submit progress reports in a timely manner may result in termination of the work order.

Draft Final Reports

The Draft Final Report is due 90 days prior to the end date of the task work order. The draft final report will be submitted to Sandra Bell, It should be edited for technical accuracy, grammar, clarity, organization, and format prior to submission to the Department for technical approval. The Research Center expects contractors to be able to provide well-written, high-quality reports that address the objectives defined by the scope of service. Draft final reports must be prepared in accordance with the “Guidelines for Preparing Draft Final and Final Reports” posted at

Final Reports

Once the draft final report has been approved, the university shall prepare the final report. The university will deliver a minimum eight (8) copies on CD or DVD – seven (7) CDs should contain the final report in PDF format, one (1) CD should contain the final report in PDF format, MS Word format and a Summary of the Final Report.

The CD/DVDs should be labeled in a professional manner and include at a minimum the contract number, task work order number, project title and date.

The final report is due no later than the end date of the task work order and should be delivered to the following address:

The Florida Department of Transportation Research Center, MS 30 605 Suwannee Street Tallahassee, FL 32399-0450

Closeout Meeting

A closeout meeting shall be scheduled during the final 30 days of the project. The purpose of the closeout meeting is to review project performance, the deployment plan, and next steps. Attendees shall include, as a minimum, the project manager, the principal investigator, and the Research Center performance coordinator. This meeting is to occur via a teleconference prior to the expiration of the contract and subsequent to the approval of the draft final report.

IV. Project Kickoff Meeting

A kick-off meeting shall be scheduled to occur within the first 30 days of execution by the university. The preferred method for the kickoff meeting is via teleconference or video conference. As a minimum, the project manager and the principal investigator will attend. The Research Center staff must be advised of the meeting and given the option to attend. Other parties may be invited, as appropriate. The subject of the meeting will be to review and discuss the project’s tasks, schedule, milestones, deliverables, reporting requirements, and deployment plan. A summary of the kickoff meeting shall be included in the first progress report.

 V. Project Schedule

It is anticipated that the project will be completed within 18 months of the issuance of the TWO from the Department.


VI. Project Budget

The project cost is fixed at $90,000. The proposed expenses of $297.35 are for hosting and domain costs for the internet-based tool before it is migrated to the National Transit Database website.

Work not included in this Scope of Service is not to be performed and will not be subject to compensation by the Department.


Total Lump Sum Amount            $89,672.91

Cost Reimbursable Subtotal     $297.35

Indirect Cost (subtotal x 10%)    $29.74

Total Project Cost                         $90,000.00

VII. Equipment

No need for non-standard equipment is expected for conducting the proposed research.

VIII. Travel

No travel is expected for completing this project.

IX. Use of Graduate Student(s) and Other Research Assistants

Dr. Xuehao Chu will be the principle investigator for the project. Dr. Chu will direct and participate in all tasks of the research effort and take responsibility for the deliverables. Martin Catala of CUTR's GIS Program and his undergraduate student assistants will be responsible for programming in Task 4.

X. Budget Justification/Personnel Roles and Responsibilities





National Center for Transit Research · at the Center For Urban Transportation Research · University of South Florida · 4202 E. Fowler Ave., CUT100 · Tampa, FL 33620-5375 · (813) 974-3120 · (813) 974-5168 · · Comments: