Messages from the Council Chair

Transit survey is key to long-term planning

September 2016

We have topnotch operators, an excellent and well-maintained fleet of vehicles, and operations and logistics staff that are second to none. But to truly run with maximum efficiency, our transit system needs data.
Council Chair Adam DuininckEvery two years we do an extensive customer satisfaction survey, which provides robust feedback on our operations. But it doesn’t dig deep into the questions of where our riders are going, and how they are using our system to get there. The best tool for that job is the Transit On Board Survey.
In April, surveyors tracked where customers boarded and got off high-ridership bus routes, light rail, Northstar and METRO Red line. We completed about 9,000 surveys.
This fall we’re digging even deeper. Contracted surveyors will randomly select riders across the system to participate in a 30-question survey. In addition to collecting key demographic data on age, income, and ethnicity, the survey will track the purpose and route of each trip.
We have a good idea where people are getting on and off, and we can track ridership, but we have to get out in the field to talk to people if we are going to understand the behavior of riders. Do they transfer, if so, how many times; and is there a better way to provide transit services?
In all, we hope to collect another 18,000 surveys.
We did a major survey like this just before the Green Line began service in 2014. The results of the current survey will provide key information about how that LRT service is changing ridership patterns. It will also lay the groundwork for collecting data on the Green Line Extension (Southwest LRT).
Good hard data is critical to all of our operations, and allows us to plan future routes that serve the maximum number of people. I’m looking forward to seeing the results of the Transit On Board Survey early next year.

Adam Duininck