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Center Identification Number: 392-10

Project Title: 1999 Transit Customer Satisfaction Index for Florida Transit Properties 

Principal Investigator: 

Francis Cleland
813-974-9803
cleland@cutr.eng.usf.edu

Institution: 

Center for Urban Transportation Research
University of South Florida
Tampa, Florida

External Project Contact: 

Elizabeth Stutts, Grant Programs Administrator, FDOT

 

I. Project Objective 

The Transit Customer Satisfaction Index follow-up project will provide:

 

  • a systematic evaluation of each participating transit authorityís customer satisfaction;
  • insight into which factors drive customer satisfaction;
  • a comparison of customer satisfaction data from their system with data from other Florida transit systems and other systems in the nation, and thus enhance understanding of each systemís relative performance;
  • recommendations for how to increase customer satisfaction.

II. Project Abstract

Customer satisfaction studies have been proven to be an essential tool in trying to optimize service provided to users of the system. The data obtained from such studies should also prove useful in publicizing the performance of participating transit systems in a manner that is easily understood by members of the general public.

Customer satisfaction studies serve several different purposes. A well designed study can provide comparative data to assess progress in otherwise non-quantifiable areas (e.g., the happiness of riders as opposed to the sheer number of riders, which is tracked by other methods), identify those components of service that do and do not meet minimum levels of customer satisfaction, identify those components of service for which significant improvements would have the highest probability of increasing overall customer satisfaction, as well as providing profiles of satisfied and dissatisfied customers.

Multi-site, multi-unit, or multi-organizational customer satisfaction studies serve the additional purpose of providing comparable customer satisfaction data across different organizations, in addition to providing accomplishments with respect to benchmarks and with respect to prior time periods. These studies can be used conversely to profile and compare customers of different agencies, and to show how different their needs and attitudes are, and how agencies must therefore respond differently to what may on the surface appear to be similar problems.

The findings from this project will allow Florida transit agencies to assess their performance relative to other local agencies, and will also give the FDOT Public Transit Office valuable information about the relative performance of each local transit authority. Smaller transit authorities will also benefit by being able to assess their performance by participating in a study that they might not have been able to afford on their own. All transit systems in Florida could benefit from the analysis of satisfaction data, even those that do not participate in the survey.

Also, as recommendations from the satisfaction studies are implemented, there should be noticeable improvements in operating statistics, including total ridership, total revenue, and revenue per passenger mile statistics.

Several systems have indicated interest in participating in this effort through their ongoing Transit Development Plan (TDP) activities. These systems include Votran, Key West, TALTRAN, and PalmTran.

III. Task Descriptions

Task 1: Design survey

CUTR anticipates a reasonably high probability that data in the required format may already exist from recent transit system TDP efforts. If this is the case, the goal of the first task would be to analyze existing data and determine if it fits the required format for the project.

CUTR will in any case design a survey that would contain identical customer satisfaction-related components but would also contain customized information for each systemís benefit. The survey would cover no more than two sides of an 8 Ĺ * 11 sheet.

Task 2: Data Analysis

CUTR anticipates that data in the required format already exists from recent transit system TDP efforts. Data will be analyzed via crosstabulation, factor analysis, regression analysis. The purpose of the analysis will be to determine which factors are most closely related to satisfaction through a combination of regression and factor analysis. Additional crosstabulations will be produced as necessary to analyze relationships.

Additionally, where available trends by system will be created. System-to-system comparisons will also be produced to demonstrate the validity of the indexing approach. A report of data will be produced and recommendations will be made.

Task 3: Report Review

Reports will be reviewed internally within CUTR and then by systems and NCTR staff.

Task 4: Final Report Generation

Final reports will be produced and provided to systems. Ten copies of a final all-system report and five copies of system reports will be produced.

IV. Student Involvement

Graduate student assistants would be used to provide technical assistance on the project and would receive 350 hours of paid employment. Furthermore, there would be an opportunity for graduate students to use the collected data and/or the procedural techniques for the purpose of preparing a thesis.

V. Relationship to Other Research Projects

This project would be a follow-up to the original FDOT Research Idea in which data was collected from six Florida transit systems to prepare an index. Some of the participating systems in this project might be collecting their second round of data (TALTRAN, for example).

In addition, the data collection for this project may be merged with the data collection activities for various TDPís to help defray printing, data collection and data entry costs.

VI. Technology Transfer Activities/Peer Review

Coverage

All transit systems in Florida could benefit from the analysis of satisfaction data, even those that do not participate in the survey.

FDOT personnel would also benefit from the data by learning more about the customer satisfaction levels in each of the major systems surveyed.

Transfer Methods

The primary method for technology transfer would be a combination of a presentation/discussion of the results with the appropriate personnel in each of the major participating agencies and with members of the FDOT Public Transit office, together with provision of a technical report specific to the interests of those systems. A summary technical report covering all systems would be prepared for the FDOT Public Transit office.

FDOT personnel will also be invited to presentations to each of the major transit authorities. Presentation could also be made to the FTC, the FTA, and the MPOAC.

Results and methodologies used will be prepared for publication in transportation publications including CUTRís Journal of Public Transportation, the FDOT-sponsored TMA Clearinghouse Quarterly. Results will be submitted for publication and/or presentation consideration by the Transportation Research Board, Association for Commuter Transportation, and APTA.

VII. Potential Benefits of the Project

The findings from this project will allow Florida transit agencies to assess their performance relative to other local agencies, and will also give the FDOT Public Transit Office valuable information about the relative performance of each local transit authority. Smaller transit authorities will also benefit by being able to assess their performance by participating in a study that they might not have been able to afford on their own.

As the national effort continues to develop, Florida transit agencies be on the leading edge, as they will have made the necessary preparations for participating in a truly national study by standardizing customer satisfaction measures taken within their systems.

 

   

National Center for Transit Research ∑ at the Center For Urban Transportation Research ∑ University of South Florida ∑ 4202 E. Fowler Ave., CUT100 ∑ Tampa, FL 33620-5375 ∑ (813) 974-3120 ∑ (813) 974-5168 ∑ www.nctr.usf.edu ∑ Comments: webmaster@cutr.eng.usf.edu