Thursday, April 10, 2014


Metro bus and train Riders! As part of JAM THE PHONE LINES, April 4th-July 4th, feel free to call Metro and say "I'd like to volunteer some survey information so that you can learn more about your customers" and tell them the answers to as much of this as you would like.

If you ride the bus, and even if you ride the train, you know that Metro does not sufficiently survey its' customers, or really know them at all.  And they don't ride the bus. (Once a year survey on the Metrolink is pretty lame, considering they admit that the buses are the majority of their service.  And they don't ask enough questions, and seem to choose the survey times to their convenience.)


They should be able to accurately measure the weeks out of the year with the most boardings, including the inflation of sports and special events fans on the Metrolink.

The busiest time of year for bus boardings, without special events, should be their primary target.  Every day for a week, on every single bus and train.  (The survey itself is detailed further on in this post, and ideas on how they could conduct these in a way that incorporates their riders and saves costs.)

On each bus, for the buses entire daily run.  One person with a lot of little pencils and the survey sheets, handing them out and collecting them back, or in the case of someone going to another bus or train, promising to give it to the next surveyor, or bring it back the next day, or mail it in.

If only one survey can be conducted a year, than that should be it. Not special events.  The heaviest regular boarding time of year.


AT ALL TIMES their should be survey forms available, and a box to deposit them. 

The first question on these should be "have you filled out a survey in the last year?"  
If yes, "please tell us how your transit needs have changed"?
And "why"? (optional)

You see, the more you know about what your customers need and why, the better you can serve them.  So, if one week you get a drop off in boardings on one bus line, and an increase on several others, and it turns out a business or company has closed or laid people off, you can anticipate those changes and respond to them with alterations in service.


You could offer a free monthly pass (or equivalent discount on other fares and passes) for 4 hours of surveyor work to students during the week of the survey. This would involve a lot of riders, which would be a bonus for Metro in getting to know the riding public and involving young people in civic work.

As I said, they would have the pencils and surveys.  A detail at the stops where the surveyors changed shifts could collect the completed surveys.  (If you have been accurately counting boardings on each bus and train, you should be able to anticipate the amount of surveys needed for each shift.)


I have no idea how comprehensive your system is.  It's seem lame.  So this would be the biggest cost for you-- building something fairly large, 15 years ago this would have been Oracle, I don't know if this is still the preferred platform.  The Federal Transit Authority and Department of Transportation might have something, or a larger city, like Los Angeles.

In addition to collecting and analyzing the data from the surveys, it would need to be integrated into the current route and street system.

Since your website frequently congratulates your "state of the art" systems and "effective analysis", at the same time pleading poverty and overwhelming federal and local limitations, it is hard to know what you all really have going on there.

And even if I did, the technical aspects might be too much for me.

But again, you could turn to the young people.  St. Louis has several fine universities and perhaps some sort of contest or internship opportunity to work on this database could provide funding.  Undergraduates and Graduates.  Perhaps some sort of grant for Ph.D's?

Universities are very good at coming up with things like this.  Reach out.


Please fill out only one survey today: 00/00/00
Where did you first board?
How did you get to the stop? (walk, get a ride)
How long did it take you to get there? (Detail your route as much as you would like)
Where will you get off this bus/train?
Will you make another connection?
What bus/train? (Metro or another service provider?)
If so: where? will you have to walk to make the next connection? how far?  what is your next connection (Metro or another service provider)?  Where will you exit?  Please list any more transfers you will be making on this trip. Detail your journey as much as you like.
How often do you make this trip?  each day? Week? month? etc.  Please detail as much as you would like.
Does your route alter with weather or other factors, or are there any alternate routes that you use for this trip? If yes, please list all alternates and reasons for using (or not using) them.
How often do you ride the bus/train?
What bus/train lines do you use the most?
Please tell us about other trips you make regularly, that you will not be making this week, during the survey.
Do you have any suggestions that would make your trip better?

What is your
income/fulltime. part-time/ how many jobs/unemployed/government assistance
do you have a car
do you live with someone that has a car

Please tell us anything else about yourself that you feel is important to your transit needs.

EDIT: And Metro, please print these in black and white on recycled paper.  You use WAY too much red and blue ink!

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