Customer information: not a side dish but part of the main course

Since the fundamental purpose of a transit agency seems to be putting transit vehicles on the street, it’s easy to assume that basic service provision is a much more important than providing information about that service.

Inspired by More Riders, I would argue that service provision and providing customer information are equally fundamental to serving a community and providing mobility options. “Customer information” is the term transit agencies use for their public-facing information — route & system maps, timetables, etc.

Even if an agency offers a great system from a planning and operations perspective — frequent, on-time service on a dense network of well-connected routes — if their customer information doesn’t do the job of helping people use and benefit from this system easily, then the system is under performing its potential in crucial ways — in rider satisfaction and the number of passengers transported to jobs and services, for example.

Consider software as an analogy. Even if you offer powerful, feature-rich software, if it’s difficult to use most people won’t benefit much from it. With software and with transit, ease-of-use is crucial to overall usefulness.