RIPTA Onboard Transit Passenger Survey

Beginning late September 2021 and continuing through early November 2021, RIPTA will be conducting a survey on board our buses and Flex vehicles. Survey staff with tablet computers will ask randomly selected passengers to answer a set of questions about their trips onboard transit vehicles.

Information we gather from the survey will complement ridership data we already collect. We have regular conversations with municipal and business leaders throughout the state, as well as community groups and social service agencies. We routinely make service adjustments three times a year, largely based on ridership numbers and feedback from our customers. RIPTA already keeps good track of how many passengers ride our routes with automated passenger counters (APCs). These passenger counters do not provide other important information, such as where people are coming from and where they’re going or key demographic data. Your participation in this survey is greatly appreciated!

What is the Onboard Transit Passenger Survey?

The survey is a study of how people use transit to travel throughout Rhode Island. The questions will focus on trip behavior and demographics. Your responses will help us understand the travel patterns and choices of riders who use our network. This information will help us plan improvements to transit infrastructure and service.

How often are these studies performed and why now?

Onboard transit passenger studies are typically conducted every five years. The last survey we conducted took place in 2016. Since that time, transit service and individual travel patterns have changed.

Who is conducting the study?

RIPTA hired a consultant to conduct the survey. The people who will help you take the surveys on board buses are contracted employees. The data collected belongs to RIPTA and will be shared with Rhode Island Statewide Planning to incorporate into the computational model used to explore travel patterns across the state.

How do I take the survey?

Survey staff with tablet computers will select passengers at random to take the survey. (The tablet computer tells the surveyor who to pick based on a random number formula.) Random selection is necessary to ensure that the collected data is statistically valid. Because of this, volunteers are not eligible to participate in the survey. On commuter bus routes, survey staff will distribute a paper version of the survey. If you are asked to fill out a paper survey, please complete the questionnaire and then return it to the surveyor.

How long will it take to complete the survey?

It will take about five to seven minutes to complete.

Why do you need to ask about personal information such as income? What does that have to do with how I use transit?

We are required to collect specific demographic data about passengers — including race, household income, and language proficiency — in order to comply with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This information is submitted to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) approximately every five years. Also, studies have shown that certain household characteristics, such as income, are important indicators of how people travel. By understanding these relationships, our planners are better able to predict how recommended service improvements will perform.

Please keep in mind that personal information is removed from all records and the results are aggregated, a measure that ensures your privacy and anonymity.

What if I am asked to participate in the survey more than once?

If you’re selected more than once, we would appreciate your participation each time you are selected.

How will I know that the interviewer is legitimate?

Official survey staff members wear a uniform consisting of a yellow vest and an official surveyor badge. They carry tablet computers and will never ask you for information such as your social security number or bank account information. 

What if I have a complaint or a concern about a specific surveyor?

Please note a description of the surveyor and email the provided contact at the email included at the bottom of this form. Please include all relevant information such as the date, time, and/or location of encounter as well as the reason for concern so that the matter may be investigated.

Is the survey available online?

No. Since the survey is specific to the transit trip in progress, only passengers who are on transit during the survey period may be selected for interviews.

Are people with disabilities included in the survey?

Yes. Everyone riding transit during the survey period are included in the random selection methodology. Surveyors may assist passengers with disabilities in completing the survey or provide the option to complete it later by phone.

Is the survey available in other languages?

Yes. Bilingual staff will be available on transit where they are most likely to be needed. Additionally, passengers speaking other languages may choose to complete the survey later by phone in their respective language.

How will the collected data be reported?

Published reports will summarize the survey data but will not disclose personally identifiable information. 

Will I have access to the data or the final findings?

A summary report will be available when the study is complete in 2022.

Is the data shared with or sold to anyone other than RIPTA?

No. To ensure the anonymity of survey respondents, personal information will not be included in the final data files.

Will my route be eliminated or changed based on my information?

The information collected will allow us to implement enhancements to the system to make transit more effective, reliable, and efficient. The ultimate goal is to better meet passenger needs.

When will the project be completed?

Surveying of all transit lines is expected to be completed by December 2021.

Who is paying for the survey?

RIPTA receives transportation planning funds from the federal government, which are being used to pay for the survey.

How do I know that my personal information is safe?

RIPTA and the survey consultant are required to protect the confidentiality of personally identifiable information (PII). Key provisions include storing PII on secure computers, protecting it from unauthorized use, and destroying PII after an agreed-upon time period.

Also, as previously noted, published reports will summarize the survey data but will not disclose PII.

Who can I contact to get more information on the study?

Reach out to our Customer Service team at 784-9500 X2012 or for any other questions you might have.

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