Bus and rail riders: Same system, separate worlds?

Posted on September 21, 2012 by Nicole Schlosser

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) released the numbers from its annual customer survey. The agency received more than 20,000 responses. Overall, riders reported general satisfaction with the service, at over 80% for both those taking the bus and rail.

Riders also responded that they feel safe waiting at the stops and on the vehicles, and that their bus or train is on-time and clean most of the time. What was interesting, as Nate Berg, staff writer at The Atlantic Cities pointed out, was a marked divide between rail riders and bus riders.

Berg takes a closer look at the survey findings, and concludes that “Bus riders tend to have lower incomes and fewer transportation options. Train riders are richer and whiter.” He also notes that more women tend to be bus riders.

We have come across studies and reports in the past that say that passengers tend to have a better perception of rail than bus. It does seem, based on the Metro survey results, at least for this year, that there is a distinct divide between people either being bus-only or rail-only transit users. Survey findings show that nearly half of Metro bus riders and a little more than 40% of rail riders usually don't transfer, and many people take single-segment trips.

I thought the results were pretty accurate, at least compared with my own experience. Being a Los Angeles County resident, if I had received and filled out the survey, I would fall into the bus-only category, simply because that mode is much more convenient to where I live and need or want to go. I also, honestly, think of the buses as safer than rail, though my perception of the rail is also based mostly on stories from friends. Most people I know, who live in all different parts of L.A., are also bus-only out of convenience, except for a few friends who live a few steps from a stop on the new Expo light rail line.

The survey results made me wonder what the divide is like in other metropolitan areas. What would you say is the breakdown in your city? Has your transit system recently gathered any data on your riders? Is it as segmented?

In case you missed it...

Read our METRO blog, "'Reach out and touch" here.

View comments or post a comment on this story. (2 Comments)

More From the Editor's Blog Posts

June 30, 2015

Can Courtesy Campaigns Curb the 'Trashing' of Transit?

It drives me nuts when people litter. One of my biggest pet peeves is when people throw trash out of their car windows while they’re driving. I’m always tempted to honk my horn when I see drivers slyly ditching cigarette butts through their open window. Listen up, people. We see you!

April 28, 2015

How transit agencies can manage the 'blizzard' of negativity on Twitter

Agencies that use Twitter to respond to users’ complaints or answer questions get more positive Twitter reaction and more civil discourse online, according to Lisa Schweitzer the author of a recent study analyzing tweets of public transit agencies. “It’s about the marketing potential of social media — a lot of public transit agencies are simply tweeting their problems to the world by blasting out late service announcements. That’s not a good use of Twitter,” she says. “Transit agencies can influence the tone of the discussion by interacting with patrons online,” Schweitzer explains. “It gives people something to respond to, and it reminds people that somebody is listening.”

January 16, 2015

8 Resolutions to Help Better Your Bus Business

Usually by early January, I will hopefully have taken down the last of our holiday decorations and eaten or given away the remaining sweets that have become a part of my regular diet during the month of December. Then, of course like most people, I’ll think about ways I want to improve myself for the coming year. Whether it be exercising more (walking from the parking lot to my office doesn’t count), eating less ice cream or managing my email better. The latter practice alone would help improve my efficiency at work immensely. I’m sure you probably feel the same way.

July 17, 2013

Reports can only help public transit's case

A new National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) study solidifies what the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) Transit Savings Report has been telling us for years now: riding public transportation can save users money.

June 14, 2013

Transit agencies should take advantage of 'Dump the Pump Day'

June 20 will mark the 8th annual National Dump the Pump Day sponsored by the American Public Transportation Association, in partnership with the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
See More

Post a Comment

Post Comment

Comments (2)

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher

Automotive Fleet

The Car and truck fleet and leasing management magazine

Business Fleet

managing 10-50 company vehicles

Fleet Financials

Executive vehicle management

Government Fleet

managing public sector vehicles & equipment



Work Truck Magazine

The number 1 resource for vocational truck fleets

Schoolbus Fleet

Serving school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada

LCT Magazine

Luxury Coach & Transportation

Please sign in or register to .    Close