Often concerns over travel time and safety are cited as reasons people do not choose to ride transit; however, little has been studied about people’s real-time experiences on transit. It is important to understand the perceptions of a transit rider, including their emotional state before, during and after a transit trip. By fully understanding these perceptions, transit service providers can better plan for transit improvements. The question, therefore, is what is the best method for collecting this qualitative data? The most common data collection method to this point has been through surveys or questionnaires either on-board transit with paper surveys, or by telephone. These methods have been used consistently over the years, but are they the most reliable? What ‘checks’ do they have to confirm people’s responses? This project will seek to discover if smart phones can replace the traditional paper survey in order to collect in-situ data about transit riders’ perceptions before, during and after riding transit. This qualitative data can also be confirmed using the Global Positioning System (GPS) technology in the phones. By combining both qualitative and quantitative research techniques, a more accurate picture of customer perceptions and evaluations of service quality can be obtained.
Transit users’ perceptions are a very important aspect in the study of transit ridership. Perceptions about travel time, distance to bus stops, wait times at stops, etc. are all factors that contribute to people’s willingness to take transit. Transit operators use this information to make improvements to their systems. It is also important to determine perceptions in order to determine future transit ridership, especially when implementing a new system or technology such as light rail transit (LRT). Many leading transportation journals have published findings on transit rider surveys that have been conducted throughout the many components from the origin to the destination of a transit trip. The following is a summary of the research pertaining to these different components.
While the majority of the past qualitative transit research relates to in-vehicle experiences, more recently, researchers, such as Iseki & Taylor (2010) have recognized the importance of out-of-vehicle travel experiences. They devised a methodology, consisting of Importance-Satisfaction (I-S) analyses and ordered logistic regression models, to examine transit users’ perceptions of services and the built environment at stops and stations in the metropolitan Los Angeles area. Their survey was designed as 46 self-administered questions related to perceptions of five categories of transit stop and station attributes: 1) access, 2) connection and reliability, 3) information, 4) amenities, and 5) security and safety. They discovered that transit users cared more about personal safety and frequent, reliable service than the physical conditions of transit stops and...