The number of riders who have expressed satisfaction with the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority’s (TheRide’s) service has increased steadily over the past several years, according to a survey conducted by CJI Research Corp. The survey was conducted in October 2011 onboard TheRide’s buses.
Rider satisfaction increased to 89 percent in 2011, with 8 percent of riders stating they were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied with the service. That’s up from 84 percent satisfaction in 2009 and 83 percent in 2006.
“Providing convenient, reliable and comfortable service are top priorities,” said TheRide CEO Michael Ford. “Customer satisfaction is key. The easier and more enjoyable we can make the trips for our riders, the more people there will be who are gaining the environmental, economic and health benefits of public transit.”
Satisfaction ratings increased from 2009 to 2011 for 12 of the 13 items included in both surveys. These items include specific aspects of service including safety, driver quality, vehicle features, bus stops and service quality. Eighty-nine percent of those surveyed gave TheRide’s schedule book, TheRide Guide, a satisfactory rating.
“A big part of the reason for our increases in customer satisfaction has to do with our drivers. They are on the buses every day interacting with riders and making sure their experience is as good as it can possibly be,” said Ford.
The rider survey also provided valuable insight on how TheRide’s services are being used. Respondents who indicated they were traveling to or from work or school increased from 76 percent in 2006 to 82 percent in 2011.
Two-thirds of riders (66 percent) said they use public transit service five or more days per week, with 88 percent of those surveyed using TheRide three or more days per week. This is up from 2009, when 86 percent rode three or more days per week.
The survey also indicated the number of choice riders — those who have regular access to a vehicle, but choose to ride public transit — also increased. More than one-third of riders surveyed (39 percent) had a license and vehicle available to make their trip, but chose to use TheRide for their trip — an increase from 37 percent of choice riders in 2009.
When asked what improvements they would most like to see, more riders (38 percent) chose increased frequency as the most important improvement when compared to other choices. The next most important improvement chosen was more direct routes at 16 percent.
“We’ve heard several times over the last few years that more frequent and more direct routes are important for riders, and we’ve seen it once again in this survey,” said Ford. “We’ve already begun making several improvements, including increased service on Route 4. If the improvements proposed under the 5-Year Countywide Transit Program are approved, riders throughout much of Washtenaw County’s urban areas wouldn’t even need to look at a transit schedule – that’s how frequent service would be.”