January 22, 2014

Dallas/Fort Worth transit agencies to survey riders

Photo courtesy DART

Photo courtesy DART
Dallas-Fort Worth’s public transportation agencies are partnering with the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) to determine how residents are using the regional transit system and what changes could be made in the future to better accommodate the needs of an increasing population.

Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) and Trinity Railway Express (TRE) passengers will be asked to participate in two types of ridership surveys beginning next month.

Denton County Transportation Authority (DCTA) and Fort Worth Transportation Authority (The T) passengers will be surveyed from September through November, during the second phase of the $1.5 million project.

Beginning the first week of February, DART and the TRE will conduct "stop-to-stop" surveys, which will continue through mid-March, in an effort to determine the trip patterns at each bus stop and rail station. Bus passengers on certain routes will be given cards and asked to return them when getting off the bus. On selected trains, passengers will be asked to provide their final destination when they board. The goal is to gather information from 20% of passengers.

The other type of survey, conducted from the conclusion of the "stop-to-stop" survey through May, will involve surveyors asking randomly selected riders questions in an effort to collect demographic information and details about the use of public transportation. The goal is to capture information from 10% of passengers.

The surveyors will wear vests identifying their purpose and use tablet computers to enter the data. On express bus routes, passengers who agree to answer questions will be provided questionnaires to complete and return to the surveyors when they exit. The surveys are completely voluntary and answers will be kept confidential.

Questions regarding the passengers' starting locations and destinations will provide details about why people are choosing transit and paint a picture of where demand is heaviest. The survey information will allow transit agencies to better address demand, as they will know the length, time and purpose of trips.

The surveying project will provide transit agencies with a travel-behavior model allowing them to project future ridership and specific destinations with a high demand. The information could also improve the transit agencies' competitiveness when applying for federal funding for service expansion and enhancement.

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