Transit systems to quiz riders

Bus riders in Everett, Shoreline and Lynnwood will be asked next week who they are, where they ride, how they pay and what they think of transit services.

Community Transit and Everett Transit want to learn more about their ridership.

The information from the surveys will be used to adjust routes, shape marketing strategies and evaluate operations, officials from the transit agencies said.

The survey will cost the agencies up to $99,999.

The transit study also could shed light on inefficiencies caused by competing services with overlapping routes.

In 2002, Everett Transit avoided a merger attempt by Community Transit, which argued that having two systems was wasteful.

“People are truly controlling their own destinies when they fill out these types of surveys,” said Jack Geiger, a senior marketing research consultant with Seattle-based Informa Research Services Inc.

The firm plans to send survey takers to randomly question 1,200 riders at transit centers in Shoreline, Lynnwood and Everett.

Survey takers will be at the stations Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday to evaluate weekday and weekend ridership trends.

In addition, about 30,000 questionnaires will be placed on buses, allowing people to fill them out as they ride. Transit officials hope to get 10,000 to 12,000 completed surveys back.

The questionnaires will ask for basic demographic information such as gender, age, race and income. The information is anonymous.

The firm also will attempt to gauge customer satisfaction and how frequently riders have to transfer between the two agencies.

Tom Hingson, director of Everett Transit, said the survey will help evaluate the effect of recent fare changes on both transit systems.

New fares for Everett Transit went into effect in August. Transit officials said the changes streamlined operations and would actually result in savings for most riders.

However, the decision came after testimony before the City Council from disabled residents, who said the new fee structure would hurt them.

Disabled Everett residents who use door-to-door ParaTransit buses went from paying nothing to paying $1 each way.

“If we get negative feedback, we use it as a measure to see what we need to do to improve our service,” Hingson said.

Initial results from the survey should be ready by late November. The complete study is expected in early 2007.

Reporter David Chircop: 425-339-3429 or

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