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Center Identification Number: 416-084

Project Title: Synthesis for Transit Non-User Surveys

Principal Investigators: 

Francis Cleland, Senior Research Associate

Dennis Hinebaugh, Transit Program Director


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

FDOT Project Manager:

I. Project Objective  

In transit, ridership is key. The number of trips a system carries not only produces operation revenue, but is important in generating federal, state, and local funding support, as well. Often, whether unfair or not, transit systems and their performance are judged based primarily on ridership and the measures that compare it to costs or service supply. Therefore, an important goal of transit planners in Florida and across the U.S. is to continue to find new and innovative ways to retain their current patrons while still increasing their overall ridership. As the push for more riders has grown, scrutiny by the non-transit-riding public has also increased. While on-board customer surveys have typically been a staple in the data collection efforts of systems, it is now becoming increasingly important to survey non-users, too. If someone is not using transit service, it is in the best interest of the transit systems to determine the primary reason(s) for this to see if any solutions to the "barrier(s)" exist. By identifying and then removing any potential impediments to transit use (at least those within their control), it may be possible for systems to increase their overall client base and, as a result, their ridership and revenues.

II. Project Abstract

This project will identify non-user surveys that have already been conducted by Florida transit properties or in conjunction with Florida transit properties by local governments and/or chambers of commerce. Appropriate data from the results will be tabulated, and these results will be compiled into a synthesis document. The document will present an overview of non-transit use, potential reasons for it, and the demographics of the non-riding public, among other findings.

III. Task Descriptions

Task 1 Collect Data from Existing Surveys

The research team shall survey all Florida transit properties to determine which agencies/areas have conducted surveys within the last five years of residents who do not use the local transit systems. Local governments and other organizations, including by not limited to local chambers of commerce, in urbanized area with public transit shall also be surveyed to determine if community attitude surveys have been conducted within the last five years that contain questions related to transit. 

The research team shall identify, obtain and analyze polling data from elsewhere in the nation which addresses public transportation and non-riders. 

Task 2 Analyze Data from Surveys 

The data collected in Task 4-A shall be compiled and summarized into major subject areas using quantitative and qualitative methods. Data shall be analyzed and policy recommendations based on, and directly linked, to this analysis shall be made. 

Task 3 Interpret Data / Prepare Final Report 

The data analyzed Subtask 4-B shall be analyzed and compiled into a final report. This report shall present: one, an overview of non-transit use; two, reasons for non-transit use; three, demographics of the non-riding public; four, the willingness of non-riders to fund transit; and, five, the types of funding methods most attractive to non-riders. 

IV. Student Involvement:

Graduate students will be used to assist in the literature review, preparation and analysis of the data collection, and prepare materials for the final report. 

V. Relationship to Other Research Projects:

This is a relatively unique project in its intensive examination of the qualitative data collection process, and survey methodologies. It is anticipated that these projects will be closely linked to one another.

VI. Technology Transfer Activities:

The results of this analysis will be provided to the FDOT through a series of technical memoranda and a final report, and a final presentation in Tallahassee. Copies of the final report will be provided to the Research Office, the State Public Transportation Administrator, the Manager of the Transit Office and the transit systems which participated in the analyses. Information will also be made available thought the CUTR website and through presentations at local and national conferences. 

VII. Potential Benefits of the Project:

This project has the potential to greatly improve the validity and soundness of transit research in all areas, as it should provide guidance on the increased use of sophisticated quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis techniques in transit research. 

VIII. TRB Keywords:

Qualitative research, research methodologies, transit, surveys, non-rider surveys, on-board surveys

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 Comments: