Leaders at transit agencies throughout the country crave a better passenger experience, improved modal integration, integrated apps, ride-hailing solutions under their own brand, and first- and-last mile options to connect people to transit, according to a new survey.
Many also struggle with how to pay for the improvements they desire in an era of tight budgets and constrained resources.
These are some of the results from a comprehensive survey Transdev conducted recently in five countries with Ipsos, a global market research firm. Transdev is partnering with the Eno Center for Transportation in analyzing and disseminating the results from the U.S. The study revealed that most transit agencies, unsurprisingly, are brutally aware of how important the next three years will be for public transit decision-makers in a time of unparalleled competition from companies looking to poach choice riders with new technology.
Transdev is sharing these results to help the entire industry understand how the goals and vision of transit agencies are evolving across the country, regardless of the context where agencies operate (rural, suburban, and urban) and to serve as an example of how the focus on passengers is helping to drive a commitment to change and innovation.
“This survey confirms that many agencies really want to push technology and innovation forward to match rising passenger expectations,” said Yann Leriche, CEO of Transdev North America. “At the same time, we were encouraged by how many leaders see that public-private partnerships can help them capitalize on new, emerging challenges and opportunities — particularly when it comes to developing first- and last-mile options and the implementation of autonomous vehicles to supplement their networks in an equitable way.”
The most important goal of transit agencies, with roughly 98% in agreement, is improving the passenger experience. This is, of course, the everyday mission for agencies supplying critical access to new jobs, education, health care, and the community. In a closely related goal, 92% are committed to building ridership.
When envisioning how to improve the passenger experience, 97% of transit agency leaders are committed to increasing staff empathy and courtesy as part of instilling a stronger service culture. Their plans to improve the rider experience include providing a digital platform with all-in-one functionality (88%), offering a diversity of payment channels (85%), using data science to better understand customers (80%), and even redesigning the entire transit network, which 66% of those surveyed plan to do within the next three years.
Despite funding struggles, agencies are increasingly looking to improve modal integration, with 73% committed to providing seamless end-to-end journeys. Nearly 70% are starting to explore incorporating ride-hailing with their own brand to serve all passengers, including some choice riders that TNC’s have siphoned off in recent years. The same percentage (70%) are interested in integrating first- and last-mile solutions into transit networks, particularly in low density areas, and are turning to the private sector to help them.
“It makes sense financially,” Leriche said. “It may be cost-prohibitive for a single agency to develop an app that helps passengers, or to acquire the expertise in autonomous technology necessary for mixed-use traffic. But when agencies choose private-sector partners, who have already developed those tools, everybody wins. The next three years should be incredibly exciting as transit agencies race to integrate new technology and improve passenger satisfaction and loyalty.”
Visit transdevna.com, to read more about the survey.