The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) is launching an onboard passenger survey as it works to gather detailed data to help the transit authority improve current service and plan future routes that best meet the public’s needs.
RIPTA is asking passengers to cooperate with survey takers who will be riding a variety of routes and asking some passengers detailed questions about their travel habits and some personal information as well. RIPTA officials noted that some of the demographic questions — including race, household income, and language proficiency — are asked to help the transit authority comply with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. Passengers can be assured that all personal information is removed when the survey results are aggregated.
“I think it’s important for people to remember that one of the main functions of the survey is to make sure that we are best serving the public,” said Scott Avedisian, RIPTA’s CEO. “That means providing service where people need and want to go, and also making sure that our services are equitable. It takes about five to seven minutes to complete the survey, but this data will serve us for years to come. I want to thank our passengers in advance for helping us with this important project.”
RIPTA typically conducts an in-depth passenger survey every five years, with the last one conducted in 2016.
The survey will be conducted by ETC Institute of Kansas and all survey staff will be easily identifiable, wearing yellow vests, and official surveyor badges. They will be equipped with tablet computers and will never ask for information such as someone’s social security number or bank account information. To encourage participation, passengers who take the survey will be given an opportunity to win a prize of $70 of value added to their Wave smart card or mobile app for travel on RIPTA.
Participants are selected at random, and if a passenger is chosen twice over the next couple of months, they are asked to participate each time. Bilingual staff who speak English and Spanish will be available on some routes; when necessary, passengers who speak other languages will be given an opportunity to complete the survey later by phone in their native language. On some of the longer routes, survey staff may distribute paper surveys that selected participants will be asked to complete before they disembark.
A public report based on the survey findings will be available in 2022 and some data will be shared with the Rhode Island Division of Statewide Planning to assist with its ongoing modeling of travel patterns in the state.