Friday, October 29, 2010

On-Board Surveys Off to Processing

A delivery truck full of surveys (maybe 10,000?) left Community Transit offices last Monday morning after the previous week's on-board survey effort to get information from the passengers on all our buses. We asked questions like "Where did you come from before you got on this bus?" "Why do you use public transit?" and "How did you pay for this bus trip?"

The completed surveys are now in the hands of a vendor which will spend the next two months entering and standardizing the data in electronic format. Their preliminary analysis will provide a wealth of information on bus transfers, what percentage of trips are to or from work, how many of our riders are unable to drive, and other basic rider demographic information.

The final report is due back to Community Transit by Dec. 13.

The data will then be available for further analysis by Community Transit staff. Service Planning and Strategic Planning are big users of the data, but our grants program, communications staff, transportation and others also use the data in many ways.

Survey Project Manager Brent Russell explained that while we do this every three to five years, this year’s survey has several firsts.

For the first time, the survey was developed completely in-house, without a consultant. Also, it’s the first time “origin” and “destination” data will be geo-coded. This will allow easy mapping and analysis of where people come from and go to on our buses.

About 37,000 copies of the survey were distributed on buses for completion on Oct. 20 and 23. Many were turned in on-board, and about 1,000 surveys came back in the mail. We are hoping for a 30 percent return rate when all are accounted for.

Many thanks to all the passengers who took the time to complete the surveys. Our last on-board survey was in 2006, and it will be very valuable to see what has changed or stayed the same since then.

Here are some tidbits from the 2006 survey:
  • The majority of Community Transit riders indicate they got to the bus by walking (57 percent), driving their car (24 percent) and/or riding a bus/train/ferry (11 percent).
  • Lynnwood was the most popular origin for bus trips. Twenty-one percent of riders started there.
  • Youth make up 18 percent of local bus riders based on fare payment. Nine percent of passengers on local buses pay the reduced fare for senior or disabled people.
  • On average, riders had been using the bus for six years. A quarter of all riders had been riding for more than 10 years.
  • More than half of all riders had completed some college or had a bachelor degree or the equivalent.
  • Nearly a quarter of all local bus riders had a total household income of less than $10,000.

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