By Jeremy Mattson, Associate Research Fellow, Small Urban & Rural Transit Center
Researchers at North Dakota State University, the University of South Florida, and the University of Illinois, Chicago have recently published a study that developed and tested a method for evaluating mobility management and coordination efforts in a community. The resulting publication describes the methods used and presents survey results from communities across the country.
For the study, two survey instruments were developed. The first was a survey of riders, and the second was a survey of stakeholders, including transportation providers, human service agencies, and other organizations. The intent of the transit user survey was to evaluate the impacts that transit services have on the lives of users and to assess the importance and effectiveness of mobility management and coordination efforts. The goal of the stakeholder survey was to learn more about the types of mobility management and coordination activities being conducted, barriers and challenges that exist, successes that have been achieved, and the degree to which the needs of users are being met. The survey instruments were designed to provide an evaluation model that could be applied to other communities across the country and could be repeated over time.
The stakeholder survey was conducted online in twelve communities across the country, and the rider survey was sent by mail to demand-response transit users in Charlottesville, Virginia; St. Johns County, Florida; Cedar Rapids, Iowa; the Denver, Colorado, metro area; and the Phoenix, Arizona, metro area.
Most respondents to the rider survey were satisfied with the quality of service they are receiving from their transportation provider, and a number reported improvements in service. The results generally showed improvements in quality of service, as perceived by the riders, which is an important measure of the success of mobility management and coordination efforts.
These results also demonstrated the impacts that mobility management programs can have on the lives of the users. An analysis of the survey data showed that those who reported less difficulty in making trips also reported a generally higher satisfaction with life. When mobility management efforts result in new transportation options, new trips that can be made, and simplified access to service, quality of life for the users of these services is shown to improve.
Results from the stakeholder survey also suggest that these programs have provided benefits. Most agencies involved with mobility management reported positive results, such as simplified access to transportation services for riders, an increase in the range of transportation options available to riders, increased awareness of transportation services, and increased ridership.
The general perspective of the stakeholders is that 1) there are a number of challenges to implementing coordination and mobility management, such as lack of funding, lack of communication, unique needs of various client populations, and many other issues; 2) there is a need for more coordination of existing human service transportation programs; and 3) the programs that have been implemented have had a positive impact on quality of service, ease of access, and, to a lesser extent, efficiency.
Results in the communities where the surveys were tested were generally positive, showing improvements in quality of service, ease of access, and efficiency. The evaluation method used in this study can be effective in different geographic locations and can be used in individual communities to track progress over time. Key for such an evaluation is to collect information from a variety of perspectives, including the end-users, transportation providers, human service agencies, and other stakeholders. For more information, the full report, showing the survey instruments and full results, and a summary report can be found here.