Results for Metro’s biannual onboard survey

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Click above to see larger.

For more than a decade, Metro’s Research & Development team has been gathering and analyzing data on Metro bus/rail users. The annual customer satisfaction survey was begun to help inform transit planners and division managers of overall customer satisfaction, on-time performance, cleanliness, safety as well as track demographic shifts in Metro ridership.

Overall, Metro bus and rail riders both saw slight increases in median income, as well as a decrease in the percent of riders below the poverty line. This was coupled with a decrease in car ownership for both bus and rail riders, as well as a decrease in the percentage of people who either drove to their first Metro stop/station or were dropped off there.  Although income and car ownership have, historically speaking, been positively related, that relationship may be weaker today than in the past. This could possibly be due to a nationwide movement of young adults choosing to forgo the added costs, parking burdens, and risks of owning an automobile.

Another statistic of interest is the continued increase in cell phone, specifically smartphone, access (37 percent of Metro riders had a smart phone in 2009 compared to 57 percent in 2013). Services such as Metro.net, the Go Metro App and Google Maps are able to provide more and more transit users up to the minute information regarding Metro services.

As the adoption rate of smartphone technology increases, Metro’s ability to quickly, accurately, and easily provide transit users with important information is augmented greatly.  If you are one of the 43 percent of Metro users without a smartphone and/or you speak another language, don’t worry — Metro will continue to provide information in the traditional way.

Metro R&D is interested in your opinion, and we are constantly looking for ways to better serve the needs of our diverse ridership. If you would like to have your voice heard,  please click here.

 

If you would like to have a look at the Spring 2013 results, please click here.

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18 replies

  1. Does the survey ask people for specific suggestions for how Metro could improve its riders’ experiences? If not, the next one should – it’s a great way to hear about things that the bureaucracy may not notice but riders do.

  2. Matt, this is excellent. Thanks for your and your team’s hard work on this. Juan and I especially enjoyed seeing the new updated statistics on cell phone ownership. We’ll have to follow up with you on your email to us about slicing and dicing that data further. I hypothesize that the spread on smartphone ownership is now fairly even across your ridership. I am curious about the extent to which people use pay-as-you-go smartphones that have limited talk minutes, but that might just be a personal curiosity.

  3. Nice presentation, and thanks for the additional comments about income/car ownership. I was surprised at how little emphasis there is on the apparently increasing on-time performance for buses in the graphic. It would also be interesting to know what the rider’s perception of *reliability* is. On-time performance is one thing, but the other questions are how often a bus doesn’t show up when expected and how often a bus breaks down/how long it takes to get going again. I believe Metro is doing good work overall, and these survey results support that.

  4. The stats on household income should cause Metro to think twice about their plans to drastically increase fares; a jump from $75 to $100 for a monthly pass is a drastic increase in my opinion.

  5. @Fakey

    Because most people have limited time to fill out surveys, we have to keep it short and to the point. Also, in order to track changes in demographics or perceptions over time, the survey must ask relatively the same questions every year.

    HOWEVER, Metro’s online survey panel that we are currently building will allow us to ask more and hopefully varied questions.

    For example, we could send out a survey asking people to rank 8 different technological improvements Metro is considering. Or we could have a list of problems that occur on Metro (An “other” box would be included), and ask the respondent to rank how they would like Metro to prioritize these problems.

    From that simple, 1-5 minute long survey (Which could be completed at the respondent’s convenience from any computer, tablet, or smartphone), we could then break down exactly how Metro’s diverse and dispersed ridership feels about issues like you mentioned. If you haven’t already, please join.

    Matthew Kridler
    Metro Research & Development

  6. Matthew,

    I’m interested in hearing why some of the stats are “10 year averages.” I noticed this on the survey last year and it seems that reporting only the average for the past 10 years makes it hard to see changes in whether a car was available for the trip (and answer the question: Is Metro doing a better job attracting riders who have other options) or whether there are changes in demographics over time.

    I’m sure you’ve got the info from the surveys, just wondering why only the 10 year average is shown in the graphic, and not the current numbers or trends over time.

  7. @Steven White

    This was the second of our 2013 onboard surveys, so it was still technically our 10 year “anniversary” for the onboard survey. The moving average is quite good for showing long term trends, but I agree that 10 years is a bit long. We will be changing that part for future infographics and going with a trend line over top of a year to year bar chart (Similar to what we have for the question “Yes, my bus/train is generally on time”).

    Your input/feedback is always appreciated.

    Matthew Kridler
    Metro Research & Development

  8. Brian Bell, are you attending the Board meeting this month where the fare restructuring will be considered? It is the Board that will decide the issue. 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, May 22nd. My impression is additional revenue (perhaps from parking or increased advertising) is being touted as a way to facilitate the increase not having to be so drastic while addressing budget concerns.

    • @Dennis Hindman The actual wording on the survey instrument was “How did you get to the first bus or train of this trip?” So riders who transfer were supposed to answer how they got to their FIRST stop/station. I hope this helps, I will correct it for our next infographic.

      Matthew Kridler
      Metro Research & Development

  9. Reducing wasteful spending ought to be a major point too. Did we really need to spend $600,000 on a wind turbine when they could’ve been better spent elsewhere?

  10. I have a feeling Metro used the responses to the question “I transferred to complete this trip” (Y/N) in deciding to include the free transfer in 90 minutes policy in the fare increase proposals. Unfortunately, the question doesn’t ask if the transfer involved one of the many other transit agencies, so the number of people benefiting from the free transfer may be overestimated (and these same people will have to pay more for the transfer). Also, as was seen in the last fare increase, it appears all of the other transit agencies will follow in Metro’s footsteps in implementing increases at around the same time.

    • @Carl

      That is not currently possible, as Metro does not do distance-based-fares. In order to calculate that data you need a system that requires you to “TAP” when you both enter a train/bus and exit a train/bus. I hope that makes sense.

      Matthew Kridler
      Metro Research & Development

  11. So basically Metro is running under the assumption that everyone will be willing to pay the same price whether they go a block or 20 miles, regardless of fare increases.

    How usual of government ineptness. What a surprise.

  12. 1. Is this becoming a biannual survey? I may be wrong, but I thought it was annual in the past.
    2. What prompted the sexual harassment question?
    3. Why did Metro not include the question about how safe riders feel once ONBOARD a bus/train? It looks like they only ask about safety at stations while waiting.
    4. Why did Metro not include the question about the cleanliness of stations/stops? Only the question about onboard cleanliness is included.
    5. I know this survey is administered onboard, but generally, for how many days is it administered? I ride the train 5 days a week and am surprised I’ve never encountered a survey.
    6. With what weight does Metro take the “Yes, I am generally satisfied with Metro Service” statistic? While I would say that I’m generally satisfied simply with Metro, I always feel that there’s room for improvement with efficiency and timeliness of arrivals.

    As always, thanks for sharing this wonderful infographic; I always enjoy reading Metro’s survey results!

  13. @Thomas

    Sorry for the delay, I wasn’t in the office yesterday and just now saw this.

    1. You are correct, we used to do a smaller survey every 3 months. However, the data wasn’t as reliable as the annual onboard survey’s data, so we switched to a biannual onboard survey and dropped the quarterly survey.
    2. We wanted to be proactive in addressing an issue that exists on every transit system in the world.
    3. We used to ask this question, and it will probably be added in again for the next survey. With only 4.5″ * 11″ of space, and countless issues that need to be addressed, sometimes important questions like this get cut temporarily.
    4. The question was asked again this year, but was removed from the infographic to make room for the sexual harassment chart. The data can be found at: http://www.metro.net/news/research/
    5. The survey is conducted over a 3-week period for buses (We get at least 75 completed surveys for 98% of all Metro bus lines), but only a 2-day period for rail. And because we need to have a random sample, we cannot announce when/where it will happen. I was actually surveyed for this the very first time I ever rode the bus in Los Angeles (years ago). I guess it was destiny that I would be analyzing it someday.
    6. While that question is hardly a perfect way of judging Metro’s performance, it helps track how small changes affect specific lines. For example, if service was increased for bus line X, or if the route was changed for bus line Y, we can track how changes like those mentioned above affect the riders of those lines.

    I hope this helps, and I am glad to see all of the comments and interest shown in the results.

    Matthew Kridler
    Metro Research & Development