Alternatives to smartphone applications for real-time information and technology usage among transit riders
Windmiller, Sarah M.
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Real-time information that informs transit riders about transit schedules, next bus or train arrivals, and service alerts, is becoming increasingly available, particularly through internet-enabled smartphone applications. However, the extent of communication technology usage amongst transit riders, specifically their access to mobile applications and alternative technologies that can provide real-time information, is largely unknown. Without this information, transit agencies are risking investing in an alternative technology that may not sufficiently supply real-time information to as many as possible riders. The purpose of this study is to identify the differences in individual technology accessibility and prioritize investing in real-time information application development that mirrors the unique characteristics of transit riders. This recognition and development will allow a wider availability of real-time information amongst transit riders. Paired with an investigation of cellular phone usage among transit riders and the general American population, an analysis of Saint Louis Metro’s Onboard Survey was performed. Cross tabulations and chi-squared tests were conducted to examine riders’ communication technology usage. Binary logit models were used to understand how, and whether, the ownership of smartphone applications is dependent on various demographic factors. These analyses identified specific demographic groups that would benefit from supplemental technology methods more conducive to their particular information accessibility. Results showed that communication technology usage has risen substantially in recent years but a portion of riders are still without access to smartphone applications. Specific demographic groups (e.g., riders over 40 years of age) were less likely to own smartphones, and these results indicate that computer-based websites and IVR are the best supplementary alternatives for those groups.