Graphic: results of latest Metro customer survey


Click above to see larger version.

We’ve posted survey results the last few years. The latest results are in the above nifty infographic. The results aren’t terribly different to previous surveys. (Here are the three previous surveys: 20142013, 2012).

A few observations from myself and the survey team:

•This is the second year in a row that Metro has asked customers about their experience with sexual harassment while riding our buses and trains. Please see this earlier Source post for more on the issue, including a Metro staff report. The results were also discussed at yesterday’s Board meeting. The gist of it: Metro has a zero tolerance policy toward harassment and is partnering with the group Peace Over Violence on creating a public awareness campaign. A media event will be held soon.

•The number of riders who own cell phones or smart phones continues to increase. In 2009 — when Metro first asked customers — 30 percent of bus riders had a cell phone and 38 percent had a smart phone for 68 percent total. That number last year was 89 percent (46 percent with a cell phone and 43 percent with a smart phone). On the rail side, the number has jumped from 55 percent of riders with a smart phone or cell phone in 2009 to 94 percent in 2014.

This is one reason the agency continues to make investments in its mobile apps and social media — it’s a good way to potentially reach the vast majority of Metro riders. Here’s a list with links to the mobile apps that Metro offers.

•Car ownership among those surveyed increased 12 percent from 2013 to 2014. Interestingly, the percentage of people driving or being dropped off at transit stations decreased two percent in that same time. That could mean there are more choice riders or it could mean that people don’t want to deal with finding parking at lots at some of the busier transit stations.

•The numbers that always catch my eye are the top ones: the time riders spend until they actually board the first bus or train of their trip. As the graphic shows, it’s about 20 minutes whether riders are using the bus or train — and that jives with my experience that it averages 15 minutes from the time I leave home until the time I’m on a Gold Line train in the morning (I live two miles from the station that I use).

If the goal is to capture more riders, especially those with cars in their driveways, 20 minutes is a considerable amount of time. This is the classic first mile/last mile challenge that all transit agencies face: getting riders to and from stations in an acceptable amount of time.

It’s a challenging issue as there are a lot of variables in play: bus and train frequencies and traffic are two big ones. Pedestrian and bike access is another (even some bus stops aren’t easy to walk to, especially if they involve crossing busy streets). On the rail side, parking or lack thereof at stations can be an issue for some riders. It can also be argued that the times are perhaps a reflection that there isn’t enough housing in our region near established transit lines (both bus and rail).

Making this even more difficult: a lot of this is not under the direct control of transit agencies such as Metro. Generally speaking, what happens on city streets surrounding Metro stops and stations is under the control of that city. So one more complexity.

That said, all this is one reason last year that Metro completed a strategic first mile/last mile plan last year to help cities get residents to our buses and trains. You can read it here — it’s a technical document, but plenty of interesting stuff is in it.

As for the customer survey, feel free to comment. I’m most interested to know what you think of the results and if they reflect your experiences with Metro.

Categories: Go Metro, Policy & Funding

7 replies

  1. I’m shocked by the low median incomes of transit riders. How does it compare to SF Bay Area and other cities around the country?

    • Hi BMGM;

      I don’t have a direct comparison. However, in the latest SF Muni annual report, it says that 60 percent of riders live in households making less than the Bay Area’s median income. According to the Census, the median income in the San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward metro area in 2013 was $79,624.

      As it happens, there’s an item in today’s headlines about some other differences between L.A. and S.F. Give it a look when you have time!

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

    • The poor in LA will remain poor so long as they are reliant on Metro due to Metro’s irrational fare policies that actually end up hurt the poor. Metro fares today are $1.75 regardless of distance traveled or you have to take the “unlimited ride” option for $100 a month. No guarantee it’ll stay that way either. In the next few years, it’ll likely be over $2.00 and the bus pass will go over $100, with no improvement in the bad economic climate here in LA where jobs are leaving CA.

      For the average middle income earner who are able to afford homes out in the suburbs who have commutes over 20 miles, they can afford $1.75 or $100 a month. It’ll still be a great deal if it goes above $2.00 or $150 a month because they’ll still be getting more “bang-for-the-buck” for having 20 mile commutes. But they aren’t the majority make up of Metro riders.

      The vast majority of Metro riders do not live like that. Sixty percent of Angelenos are renters who most likely have dead-end minimum wage jobs nearby (basically, not likely to be living in a McMansion in the suburbs doing a 20 mile commute to a cushy $50,000+ white collar desk job in DTLA), yet they too are subject to the $1.75 per ride (for a ride less likely less than 5 miles) or $100 a month in bus passes. Many people live in Koreatown. Many people who live in Koreatown use Metro. People who use Metro living in Koreatown, aren’t people going to Long Beach on a daily, frequent basis.

      Usually Metro likes to rationalize that there are low income riders who have long commutes, but without any statistical evidence to back up their claims on what percentage of Metro riders who are low income and how far they travel, their rationale is groundless.

      How far do these low income riders actually travel? Oddly, strangely, that’s never part of a Metro survey. It can be simple as asking this question:

      1. How much do you make per year?
      2. Where do you usually get on the bus/Metro Rail?
      3. Where do you usually get off the bus/Metro Rail?

      I would think a transit agency like Metro would want to know how FAR people travel on Metro and how that correlates to their income level as a part of their customer research and rationalizing future fare policies.

  2. Hi,
    I’ve made and released a mobile app using Nextrip predictions for Metro.
    Is there a way to have it listed under your mobile resources page?

    I’ve submitted a request via, as the mobile apps page suggests, but haven’t heard back from Metro.
    The mobile apps page says it hasn’t been updated since 2012- is somebody responsible for maintaining it?

    Thank you.

    Here’s a link to my app: