April 15, 2009

Study: 12 percent of San Diego adults use transit

While solo driving remains the most popular way to get around in San Diego, 12 percent of adults report that transit is their primary method of traveling in the region, according to a public opinion study released Tuesday.

In order to better understand what motivates residents to use the various forms of transit in the region – and how best to improve service and increase ridership – SANDAG (San Diego Association of Governments) commissioned the San Diego Region Transit Public Opinion Study. (SANDAG conducts similar studies every four or five years.)

“The study not only took a snapshot of public perception of transit at a moment in time, it created a model that allows us to see what features on which modes are most important to riders and potential riders,” said SANDAG Executive Director Gary Gallegos. “We can now use this model to improve services and market transit to the public in order to increase ridership.”

A total of 3,670 adults, who reside in the San Diego region, were selected to participate in the random telephone survey, which was conducted by True North Research Inc. in the summer of 2008.

The findings included:

• When asked to identify the type of transportation they primarily use when traveling in the San Diego region, by far the most common response was solo driving (64 percent), followed by carpooling with one (12 percent) or two (8 percent) other people. Overall, 12 percent of adults indicated that they primarily use transit when traveling in the region, be it a local bus (6 percent), the Trolley (4 percent), the Coaster (1 percent), an express bus (0.5 percent), or the Sprinter (0.4 percent).

• Among all adults surveyed, approximately 48 percent reported that they had ridden some form of transit in the San Diego region during the 12 months prior to the interview.

• More than one-third (36 percent) of adults reported that they had ridden the Trolley at least once during the 12 months prior to the interview, 21 percent indicated that they had ridden the bus, 14 percent used the Coaster, and 9 percent had ridden the Sprinter.

• Overall, 14 percent of adults reported that they have used transit to commute to/from work, 7 percent indicated that they have used it to commute to/from school, and 14 percent stated they that have used transit for shopping trips.

• Approximately one-third of respondents indicated that they were either somewhat (16 percent) or very (14 percent) interested in increasing the frequency with which they ride the bus.

• Nearly half of those surveyed indicated that they would be somewhat (25 percent) or very (21 percent) interested in riding the Trolley more frequently. The corresponding figures for the Coaster were 21 percent and 16 percent.

• The most commonly mentioned obstacle preventing increased ridership among those who were interested was that the transit mode did not travel to the places they needed to go (20 percent), followed by the locations of transit stops being inconvenient (15 percent), a general reference to transit being inconvenient (14 percent), and that transit takes too much time (11 percent).

• More than half of respondents perceived that traffic congestion in the San Diego region increased a lot (25 percent) or somewhat (26 percent) during the prior 12 months, whereas 38 percent felt that it had stayed about the same. Approximately 10 percent of respondents perceived that congestion had improved (decreased) during this period, and 1 percent refused to offer an opinion.

The complete study may be viewed at this link: http://www.sandag.org/uploads/publicationid/publicationid_1428_9419.pdf

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