2016 Travel Trends Rail Passenger Survey is Underway

April 19th, 2016

Metrorail riders get excited; the 2016 Travel Trends Rail Passenger Survey is here! If you haven’t noticed all the orange in the stations yet (surveyors in orange Metro bibs handing out orange surveys, offering orange Travel Trends pens to fill them out), keep an eye out! Throughout April and May of 2016, WMATA (Metro) will be conducting the Travel Trends survey on a rolling basis throughout the system, to cover all 91 stations.

The Rail Passenger Survey is an FTA-mandated survey that Metro is required to administer every five years, or at least two years after the launch of new rail service (this year’s survey comes two years after the launch of the Silver Line). The primary use of the survey is to:

  1. Determine jurisdictional transit subsidy allocations.
  2. Improve our service and validate our internal systems.

Here is a video that summarizes the work being conducted and why it’s important:

Your answers to the survey contribute to the data used to support operating and planning activities—it provides us with greater insight into how we can best match service to fit the overall needs of our customers using the system.

Here is a sample of some of the questions we ask in the survey, and what your answers to those questions will be used for:

Survey question: Reason we ask it:
Type of fare paid to use system To expand our understanding of how our riders make decisions related to fares, in an effort to offer options that are attractive to the diverse needs of our customer base.
Which Metro line(s) you used on your trip To help us develop a clear picture of true transfer volumes at key stations. This information is part of our ongoing plans for capacity enhancements at major transfer stations.
How you access the stations you use Transit mobility and access is constantly evolving, with rideshare, bikeshare, and other options becoming more widely available. Understanding our customers’ mobility patterns helps us plan accordingly to provide the most relevant rail and bus service possible in the context of modern urban transportation.
Race and Income demographic questions As a recipient of federal funds, WMATA must comply with federal regulation including the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Title VI of the act and its USDOT implementing instructions requires us to ensure meaningful participation in transportation planning processes by minority and low income populations in our service area, and distribute transportation costs and benefits equitably among all populations. We ask demographic questions on all our surveys to help us meet these requirements.

The customer service team, along with Station Managers and other Metro personnel, have been receiving lots of questions from our riders about when and where to complete the survey. Here are the questions we are hearing most often. If you still can’t find an answer to your question, feel free to ask any additional questions in the comments section at the bottom and we will try to respond as best we can.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: Where can I fill out survey?

Any time you are handed a survey when entering a Metro station, please fill one out. We encourage you to fill out a survey every time you are offered one, since the purpose of the survey is to better understand how you use the system.

Q: I can fill out a new survey each time I am handed one?

A: Yes! This is a survey of trip making patterns, not of individual riders. As such, every time you are handed a survey you should fill it out and submit it either in the drop boxes, by mail, or online.

Q: The survey started in early April, but I haven’t received a survey yet.  When will you survey the stations I use?

A: This survey uses statistical methods to capture a representative sample of our ridership.  On a given day, survey forms are being given out at a handful of stations.  To ensure that the survey remains statistically representative, we cannot disclose the survey schedule.

Q: What languages are available for the survey?

English and Spanish paper versions are available at the stations, or you can take it online in: English, Spanish, French, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, or Amharic.

Q: If I don’t include my name, address, and phone number, will I still be eligible to win one of the $100 SmarTrip cards?

No, without this information we will be unable to contact you to notify you if your survey is one of the winners. Your survey may still be considered valid from a data standpoint without this information, but you will not be eligible to win without it.

Q: Why do you need my street address?

A: In addition to what is noted above, address is also a key component of determining actual jurisdiction of residence. Rest assured that this data is not used for any purpose other than geocoding the survey results, and ensuring we can contact and validate the potential winners of the SmarTrip cards. We take the protection of Personally Identifiable Information (PII) very seriously here at WMATA, and can ensure you that we take every possible measure and precaution in guarding and encrypting this data.

Q:  What does the survey data provide that you can’t get from SmarTrip usage data?

A:  Data on jurisdiction of residence from a statistically significant sample of our ridership cannot be gleaned from SmarTrip usage. Furthermore, data on income and race are required to ensure compliance with federal regulations. SmarTrip card data does not provide this information. Finally, understanding customers’ needs in regards to trip purpose is a very important data dimension captured by the survey that is otherwise unavailable.

Q:  Where can I provide my specific feedback on Metro?

A: The purpose of the Travel Trends survey is to gather data for planning and jurisdictional funding purposes.  We perform it every five years and use the same survey statistical control so that the results can be compared over time.  Please consider it a Metrorail passenger “census” rather than a customer satisfaction survey.  Comments about customer satisfaction can be directed to our customer comment form.  For other ways to contact Metro, please visit the Contact Us page of our website.

Q: How can riders with visual disabilities take the survey?

A: The visually impaired have two options for completing the survey. If handed a paper survey, they can then go online to: www.wmata.com/traveltrends  The online version of the survey was certified by Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind as 508 compliant. To complete the online version, you will need the password located just above the barcode on the front of the survey you were handed. Alternatively, you may either ask a friend or family member to help complete the paper survey. Then just drop it in the mail; postage is pre-paid.

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