We had the pleasure to join a conversation facilitated by TransLoc CEO Brett Wheatley to discuss the findings of the Transit Value Index Survey. The roundtable discussion, moderated by Wheatly, included Reggie Ellis (TransLoc Director of Channel Partnerships and Sales Operations), Robert Wilson with St. Clair County Transit, and myself.
Under discussion were the findings highlighting some exciting survey data collected from over 1,000 riders regarding transit ridership and expectations, as compared with pre-pandemic perspectives and behavior.
Riders aren’t shy about demanding change.
TransLoc polled 1,200 working American ages 18+ who currently use transit or regularly used transit before the pandemic began in 2020.
We found that transit riders are eager to get back on the road, but they aren’t shy about demanding changes from transit agencies to rebuild their confidence in using public vehicles.
-Brett Wheatley, TransLoc CEO
The survey data highlights, for transit agencies across the country, how the pandemic has influenced the way governments think about the riders they serve. There were a number of rider concerns that became evident from the survey results. Of those, here is what stood out most:
Technology awareness is a problem
Respondents also reported a perception that public transit providers are “behind the times” when it comes to technology. This perception reveals an awareness problem around available technology options and opens up the opportunity for better communication.
Survey Data & Good Decision Making
During the roundtable, attendees heard from PublicInput about how valuable survey insights can be to governments and transit agencies.
Here are some highlights:
What kind of data stands out in these kinds of surveys?
What we have found stands out most are the demographics characteristics of the respondents. Not only does this give agencies insight into who it is they are hearing from, but it also gives them a critical view of who they are missing.
Understanding these gaps helps agencies course correct their strategies and adjust engagement tactics to get a clearer more representative picture of the community, which is ultimately the key to good decision making.
Get a clearer picture of you community with Public | Equity Mapping
How do you decide what to highlight, how to present information, and how to approach storytelling for a specific community, audience, or industry?
Really these decisions are all defined among and between the stakeholders and advocates in a given community. It really is a community conversation. And PublicInput’s platform users make the decisions about how best to handle and prioritize the information based on the issues that they are facing.
Our job is to listen to transit agencies and provide a platform that allows them to not only engage their community in a format that suits them best, but also to give them ways to:
- reaching beyond the usual voices
- lowering barriers to participation
- help them be agile in capturing, analyzing, and reporting the data and findings
Public perception & actionable insights
Having worked in local government for over a decade I have done a lot of collaboration with the community around a myriad of issues ranging from health and human services to transit accessibility. The TransLoc survey findings call to mind all the opportunities transit agencies have for engaging with their communities including:
- Transit accessibility in the built environment (that’s sometimes code for sidewalks and benches)
- Regional Transit Planning
- Paratransit Planning and Section 5310 Funding Allocations
- And even compliance around Title VI and Environmental Justice
All of these topics are fair game for transit agencies to engage around. When doing this, here is some food for thought:
- Not to be cliché, but move at the speed of trust and operate within the spirit of nothing about us without us. Hearing from the community and aligning their values with plans for the future is the most efficient way to move forward.
- Having actual data to support anecdotal information is very powerful. Using surveys to test assumptions (or anecdotes) ultimately helps us understand the true perceptions.
- The purpose of meaningful engagement is to test and validate so that you can turn those assumptions into evidence and actionable insight.
- To validate, acknowledge that no process is perfect and the best defense against getting things wrong is sharing what you learned and listening to feedback and adjust as needed.
Powered by PublicInput
If you are a Transit agency and are looking for effective and meaningful opportunities to engage your community, TransLoc’s rider surveys, powered by PublicInput, allows you to listen to your transit riders and simplify the engagement process.