This paper investigates the nexus of transit and rural livability as demonstrated by case studies in the North Dakota communities of Valley City and Dickinson. While there are many factors that influence the livability of a rural community, transit is believed to be an important contributor. For each of the two North Dakota communities considered, public/resident surveys, local transit rider surveys, and stakeholder interviews were conducted to understand differing opinions on livability and how transit contributes to livability.

In both Valley City and Dickinson, surveys of residents showed that they believe affordable housing, low crime, quality healthcare, overall cost of living, quality public schools, and available jobs are the most important factors contributing to the livability of a small community. While transit was not among the top factors, survey respondents expressed considerable support for providing transit services and funding transit through various sources. Residents in both cities expressed the opinion that transit should be provided in their community as a transportation option for seniors, people with disabilities, those who choose not to drive, and those who cannot afford to drive. Transit riders in both cities indicated that transit is important to their quality of life, and stakeholders from both communities expressed the sentiment that transit is a critical lifeline for people who are elderly and/or have a disability, individuals with no vehicle, and those who cannot drive.