Metro and Sound Transit conducted a targeted rider survey immediately before and after the February 6, 2010 service change. There were a number of findings, some interesting, some not-so-interesting, and some deeply flawed.
Most interesting were the Link-only questions. Ridership has increased substantially since February, partially due to people new to transit, so these numbers may not still apply.
How did you pay?
What did you do before you rode Link? These numbers add up to well below 100%, so I believe non-responses are included in the computation. In February about half of Link riders came over from the bus.
Some other findings below the jump.
- People like more service. 8 and 60 riders liked the fact that Metro was investing more in those routes. No surprise there.
- Replacing the 194 with 578 is a mixed bag. Comparing riders who go from Federal Way to Downtown, overall satisfaction on the 578 is lower. While 578 scored higher on speed, safety, and the buses themselves, many riders thought it had inadequate frequency at all times of day, and were less satisfied with the overall transfer experience.
- A skewed sample has Link and the 574 as a mixed bag with the 194. The issue here is that the 574 and Link trips to the airport already existed during the “before” survey; therefore, anyone sufficiently dissatisfied with the 194 already made the switch, leaving just those who especially liked the 194 still riding it.* Nevertheless, the story is similar to the 578: the physical quality of Link is much higher, but there’s some concern about transfers and the number of stops. Overall, the 194 scored higher in rider satisfaction.
There’s going to be a lot of temptation to jump to conclusions from this data in the service of refighting old battles, in spite of all the reasons to be wary of it. And to be honest I’m disappointed that the last result was even close, as that doesn’t fit with my own perceptions. Nevertheless, I think the constructive comment to come out of this is that transferring to and from Link is perceived as too hard. Part of that is fare policies, part of it is poor transfer point design, part of it is the inherent complexity of intermodal transfers.
* Furthermore, as far as I can tell, the Link sample includes people on trips other than Downtown/Seatac; I have no idea what that does to the results. It also includes people who didn’t take the bus, and may have a totally different frame of reference for what is acceptable.