In which I take a public transit survey

My local public transit system is conducting a survey about the service. The survey-takers stood at the station that I got on at for two days and were even on a bus I took one day, giving out surveys and asking if we patrons could fill them out when we got home and mail them in.

I brushed off one survey-giver the first day because I was plotting out some important points in my NaNoWriMo novel, but on the second day I took a survey, hoping (though not much) that the questions would be useful in some way.

Well, they weren’t. They’re probably useful to MARTA in some way, but they don’t come close to addressing the issues of the transit system as a whole. The survey is divided into sections, each one containing several questions that seemed of little importance.

1) Where are you coming from?
Here the survey asks about the type of place the surveytaker is coming from, including an exact address and name.

2) How did you get from your starting place to the train station where you received this survey?
Okay, this makes sense, given that it’s a rail survey. Did you use any buses? Which ones? How’d you get to the bus stop? How long did it take you to walk if you walked?

3) Getting on and off the train
Where did you get on the train? Where did you get off? Okay, this makes sense. They want to see which stations are popular.

4) How will you get from the train to your destination?
Will you do it on a bus? Will you do it on a train? Will you do it on a foot?

5) Your destination for this one-way trip
Wow, they’re nosy, aren’t they? I’m betting most people lied on this one. There’s no reason for me to; I have nothing to hide.

6) Other Important Items
And here’s where things get interesting. How’d you pay for this trip? How many working vehicles are in your household? Could you have used one of these instead? (Okay, this makes sense to ask.) Are you employed? How many adults live in your household? Are you a student? Are you going to work or school today? Do you have a driver’s license? How old are you? What’s your household income? Are you Hispanic/Latino? How would you describe your race in only four options plus an other box? How well do you speak English? When did you receive this survey? What’s your mother’s credit card number? (Okay, they didn’t ask this one, but they may as well have.)

But they never hit on the important points, like whether the rider had any problems using the service that day, or how friendly any employees were, or if they felt safe in the area, or whether the bus or train got there on time, or how long they had to wait, or how long the overall trip took. These are the questions that need to be asked if the public transportation system is to be improved.

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