An Ode to RTS

by Tanya Zwahlen

This week, all three of us rode RTS buses throughout Monroe County to administer customer satisfaction surveys on behalf of the regional transit authority. We are a subconsultant to Abt SRBI, who is organizing the data collection and analyzing it on behalf of RGRTA. Once a quarter, we spend a week collecting data. We’ve had this contract for six months, but I had not had a chance to survey riders myself until this week.

A BRIEF TOUR OF EVERYWHERE

It was a nice break, to step away from our computers, ride through the city, talk with strangers, and enjoy some sunny and then rainy weather.

We all rode to Lake (#1) to Ridge and out to Elmridge Plaza (#14) together on Monday.

I rode the #31 via Park Avenue to East Avenue Wegmans and back to the transit center at 5:40AM on Tuesday. Later that morning, I took the #50 to Crittenden, to catch the #68 to RIT, and then rode back to the transit center on the #24. Had a nice coffee break at Java Wally’s in between.

Jen rode that same route to RIT in the evening. And she and Annie rode out to Chili on the #8.

Annie had the most shifts. She went to Brighton on the #51, the 19th Ward on the #12, the airport on the #6, Foodlink on the #16, Edison Tech on the #13, and Sea Breeze on the #40. She was all over the place.

WHAT’S NEW WITH RTS?

I haven’t been on a bus in a few years. I was excited to get back and see if anything has changed.

One thing is that we have a gleaming new transit center. It’s really nice! Here’s Annie with our SRBI field supervisor, Joshua, waiting for the next run at Gate #20.

One thing that hasn’t changed is the fare. Still one dollar! I mean, what can you get for one dollar in 2015? This transit system affordable, and, at the same time, clean and on-time. Also, every driver I asked for information about a connection was friendly and helpful.

WHAT DO RIDERS THINK? WHAT DO NON-RIDERS THINK?

I will be interested to see what the survey results find. I also can’t help wonder if other methods of collecting and analyzing data might help the transit authority improve service. For example, this study by Lisa Schweizter analyzes how people talk about public transit agencies on Twitter. It also studied how transit agencies respond to riders with Twitter.

I also wonder how we could entice people out of the cars and onto buses. What would non-riders say the barriers are to using RTS? Is it lack of knowledge? The low cost of parking? Self image?

I’m only one opinion, but I came away from the week thinking that our transit system is great. I feel lucky that if I need it, it’s there. And, not only that, but RGRTA is always trying improve, by querying customers about how they are doing and measuring their improvement over time.

We are glad to be part of this project. It’s a great one.

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