A survey of transit agencies on web-based feedback tools and their role in addressing riders
Sager, Ryan Christopher
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This thesis presents the results from a survey of transit agencies on web-based feedback tools and their role in enabling communication between agencies and riders. Motivation for the survey stems from the growing importance of web-based feedback tools in improving transit services. Web-based feedback can improve transit agencies' knowledge of issues relating to their systems while enhancing the transit riding experience. As the availability of Internet and smartphones increases among transit users, the tools available to gather feedback have grown in response. Web- and smartphone-based tools are instrumental in collecting a wide range of feedback, including commendations and complaints, maintenance issues, transit services, safety and security, long-term planning and other transit operations related issues. At the same time, transit agencies must determine how to best respond and manage the growing presence of information on the web relating to their agencies performance. Through a web-based survey administered to 130 transit agencies in the United States and Canada, information was gathered on the current and planned use of web-based tools by transit agencies. The overall survey results show that most transit agencies focus on sorting and responding to unsolicited feedback being collected primarily through social media, email, and online forms. Additionally, transit agencies see the benefits of web-based customer feedback, noting that the key to managing their systems into the future will involve developing agency-wide digital feedback plans that allow automation and integration across all feedback channels. Finally, transit agencies also noted that the primary downside to web-based feedback involved a lack of staff resources to support their systems. This thesis provides further analysis focusing on three questions regarding the survey results: - How can agency size, based on unlinked trips, influence the survey responses collected from agencies regarding their use of web-based feedback tools? - What variables from the survey can influence a transit agencies ability to provide web-based feedback tools to their riders? - What factors might contribute to differences in transit agencies rider access estimates to Internet and smartphones? While the results show that larger agencies are able to offer more web-based feedback tools to their riders, there were problems with transit agencies incorrectly estimating their riders’ access to Internet and smartphones. This could cause issues regarding agencies ability to understand which web-based tools they should implement to engage their riders. This thesis details one portion of an overall project, which will provide framework for agencies to assess their needs and resources to determine how to create their own effective customer feedback systems in relation to what web-based feedback tools will most benefit themselves and their riders.