BART Mobile Applications Rider Survey

This post is overdue. In late Februrary, San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) released the results of an online survey of its riders on their use of mobile devices and mobile transit information applications.

Beyond the results of the survey, I think one of the most interesting and noteworthy aspects of this project is BART’s approach. They survey results were publicly released, summarized, and well publicized. Why? I am willing to assume BART sees these survey results as equally, if not more, useful for 3rd party application developers as for the BART organization itself. In the end, this will mean applications and tools (3rd party or BART-delivered) that are better tailored to the needs of customers. This is a prime example of open communication and partnership-building at work.

Here were the highlights I noted from a read of the survey results:

  • 6,500 responses to the survey — that’s a lot of people who care.
  • iPhone and Blackberry: most popular devices (not surprising), followed by iPods (these don’t work on the mobile phone network, but since some models connect with Wifi networks, they are still connected devices). How many iPods do you see on the last transit vehicle you rode?
  • More than a third of respondents plan to purchase a new mobile device within 1 year (large number, but the pool of respondents was self-selected).
  • “Customers told BART they expect to be connected to get work done on their commutes, as well as for personal entertainment to pass the time.” This is a good reason to make Wifi available for passengers (BART is working on that).
  • The most popular mobile transit application, by far, was the iPhone’s built-in “Maps” application (over 45% of respondents used with some regularity).
  • Respondents mentioned some cool/interesting features they’d like to see:

Aaron is the founding principal of Trillium Solutions, Inc. He brings experience that includes 12 years of web-development with 8 years in public transportation, with knowledge of fixed-route transportation, paratransit, rural transportation, and active transportation modes. Aaron is a recognized expert in developing data standards, web-application design, digital communications, and online marketing strategy. He originally developed Trillium’s GTFS Manager, and has played a key role in the development of the GTFS data specification since 2007.