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.

Aaron is the founding principal of Trillium Solutions, Inc. He brings experience that includes 13 years of experience 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.