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TRANSIT TCRP SYNTHESIS 69 COOPERATIVE RESEARCH PROGRAM Sponsored by the Federal Transit Administration Web-Based Survey Techniques A Synthesis of Transit Practice

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TCRP OVERSIGHT AND PROJECT TRANSPORTATION RESEARCH BOARD 2006 EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE* SELECTION COMMITTEE* CHAIR OFFICERS DAVID A. LEE Connecticut Transit Chair: Michael D. Meyer, Professor, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta MEMBERS Vice Chair: Linda S. Watson, Executive Director, LYNX--Central Florida Regional Transportation ANN AUGUST Authority, Orlando Santee Wateree Regional Transportation Executive Director: Robert E. Skinner, Jr., Transportation Research Board Authority LINDA J. BOHLINGER MEMBERS HNTB Corp. ROBERT I. BROWNSTEIN MICHAEL W. BEHRENS, Executive Director, Texas DOT, Austin PB Consult, Inc. ALLEN D. BIEHLER, Secretary, Pennsylvania DOT, Harrisburg PETER CANNITO JOHN D. BOWE, Regional President, APL Americas, Oakland, CA Metropolitan Transportation Authority--Metro LARRY L. BROWN, SR., Executive Director, Mississippi DOT, Jackson North Railroad DEBORAH H. BUTLER, Vice President, Customer Service, Norfolk Southern Corporation GREGORY COOK and Subsidiaries, Atlanta, GA Ann Arbor Transportation Authority ANNE P. CANBY, President, Surface Transportation Policy Project, Washington, DC NATHANIEL P. FORD DOUGLAS G. DUNCAN, President and CEO, FedEx Freight, Memphis, TN San Francisco MUNI NICHOLAS J. GARBER, Henry L. Kinnier Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, University RONALD L. FREELAND of Virginia, Charlottesville Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc. ANGELA GITTENS, Vice President, Airport Business Services, HNTB Corporation, Miami, FL FRED M. GILLIAM Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority GENEVIEVE GIULIANO, Professor and Senior Associate Dean of Research and Technology, KIM R. GREEN School of Policy, Planning, and Development, and Director, METRANS National Center GFI GENFARE for Metropolitan Transportation Research, University of Southern California, Los Angeles JILL A. HOUGH SUSAN HANSON, Landry University Professor of Geography, Graduate School of Geography, North Dakota State University Clark University, Worcester, MA JOHN INGLISH JAMES R. HERTWIG, President, CSX Intermodal, Jacksonville, FL Utah Transit Authority GLORIA J. JEFF, General Manager, City of Los Angeles DOT, Los Angeles, CA JEANNE W. KRIEG ADIB K. KANAFANI, Cahill Professor of Civil Engineering, University of California, Berkeley Eastern Contra Costa Transit Authority HAROLD E. LINNENKOHL, Commissioner, Georgia DOT, Atlanta CELIA G. KUPERSMITH SUE McNEIL, Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Delaware, Newark Transportation District DEBRA L. MILLER, Secretary, Kansas DOT, Topeka CLARENCE W. MARSELLA Denver Regional Transportation District MICHAEL R. MORRIS, Director of Transportation, North Central Texas Council of FAYE L. M. MOORE Governments, Arlington Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation CAROL A. MURRAY, Commissioner, New Hampshire DOT, Concord Authority JOHN R. NJORD, Executive Director, Utah DOT, Salt Lake City STEPHANIE L. PINSON PETE K. RAHN, Director, Missouri DOT, Jefferson City Gilbert Tweed Associates, Inc. SANDRA ROSENBLOOM, Professor of Planning, University of Arizona, Tucson ROBERT H. PRINCE, JR. HENRY GERARD SCHWARTZ, JR., Senior Professor, Washington University, St. Louis, MO DMJM+Harris MICHAEL S. TOWNES, President and CEO, Hampton Roads Transit, Hampton, VA JEFFREY M. ROSENBERG C. MICHAEL WALTON, Ernest H. Cockrell Centennial Chair in Engineering, University of Amalgamated Transit Union Texas, Austin MICHAEL SCANLON San Mateo County Transit District EX OFFICIO MEMBERS BEVERLY SCOTT Sacramento Regional Transit District THAD ALLEN (Adm., U.S. Coast Guard), Commandant, U.S. Coast Guard, Washington, DC JAMES S. SIMPSON THOMAS J. BARRETT (Vice Adm., U.S. Coast Guard, ret.), Pipeline and Hazardous Materials FTA Safety Administrator, U.S.DOT FRANK TOBEY MARION C. BLAKEY, Federal Aviation Administrator, U.S.DOT First Transit JOSEPH H. BOARDMAN, Federal Railroad Administrator, U.S.DOT KATHRYN D. WATERS JOHN BOBO, Deputy Administrator, Research and Innovative Technology Administration, U.S.DOT Dallas Area Rapid Transit REBECCA M. BREWSTER, President and COO, American Transportation Research Institute, FRANK WILSON Smyrna, GA Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County GEORGE BUGLIARELLO, Chancellor, Polytechnic University of New York, Brooklyn, and Foreign Secretary, National Academy of Engineering, Washington, DC EX OFFICIO MEMBERS J. RICHARD CAPKA, Federal Highway Administrator, U.S.DOT WILLIAM W. MILLAR SEAN T. CONNAUGHTON, Maritime Administrator, U.S.DOT APTA EDWARD R. HAMBERGER, President and CEO, Association of American Railroads, ROBERT E. SKINNER, JR. Washington, DC TRB JOHN C. HORSLEY JOHN H. HILL, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator, U.S.DOT AASHTO JOHN C. HORSLEY, Executive Director, American Association of State Highway and Transportation J. RICHARD CAPKA Officials, Washington, DC FHWA J. EDWARD JOHNSON, Director, Applied Science Directorate, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, John C. Stennis Space Center, MS TDC EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR WILLIAM W. MILLAR, President, American Public Transportation Association, Washington, DC LOUIS SANDERS NICOLE R. NASON, National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator, U.S.DOT APTA JEFFREY N. SHANE, Under Secretary for Policy, U.S.DOT SECRETARY JAMES S. SIMPSON, Federal Transit Administrator, U.S.DOT ROBERT J. REILLY CARL A. STROCK (Lt. Gen., U.S. Army), Chief of Engineers and Commanding General, TRB U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Washington, DC *Membership as of November 2006. *Membership as of November 2006.

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TRANSIT COOPERATIVE RESEARCH PROGRAM TCRP SYNTHESIS 69 Web-Based Survey Techniques A Synthesis of Transit Practice CONSULTANTS GREG M. SPITZ, FRANCES L. NILES, and THOMAS J. ADLER Resource Systems Group, Inc. White River Junction, Vermont S UBJECT A REAS Public Transit Research Sponsored by the Federal Transit Administration in Cooperation with the Transit Development Corporation TRANSPORTATION RESEARCH BOARD WASHINGTON, D.C. 2006 www.TRB.org

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TRANSIT COOPERATIVE RESEARCH PROGRAM TCRP SYNTHESIS 69 The nation's growth and the need to meet mobility, environ- Price $35.00 mental, and energy objectives place demands on public transit Project J-7, Topic SH-07 systems. Current systems, some of which are old and in need of ISSN 1073-4880 upgrading, must expand service area, increase service frequency, ISBN 0-309-09778-9 and improve efficiency to serve these demands. Research is nec- Library of Congress Control Number 2006935404 essary to solve operating problems, to adapt appropriate new technologies from other industries, and to introduce innovations 2006 Transportation Research Board into the transit industry. The Transit Cooperative Research Pro- gram (TCRP) serves as one of the principal means by which the transit industry can develop innovative near-term solutions to COPYRIGHT PERMISSION meet demands placed on it. Authors herein are responsible for the authenticity of their materials and for The need for TCRP was originally identified in TRB Special obtaining written permissions from publishers or persons who own the Report 213--Research for Public Transit: New Directions, pub- copyright to any previously published or copyrighted material used herein. lished in 1987 and based on a study sponsored by the Federal Cooperative Research Programs (CRP) grants permission to reproduce Transit Administration (FTA). A report by the American Public material in this publication for classroom and not-for-profit purposes. Transportation Association (APTA), Transportation 2000, also Permission is given with the understanding that none of the material will be recognized the need for local, problem-solving research. TCRP, used to imply TRB, AASHTO, FAA, FHWA, FMCSA, FTA, or Transit modeled after the longstanding and successful National Coopera- Development Corporation endorsement of a particular product, method, or tive Highway Research Program, undertakes research and other practice. It is expected that those reproducing the material in this document for educational and not-for-profit uses will give appropriate acknowledgment technical activities in response to the needs of transit service provid- of the source of any reprinted or reproduced material. For other uses of the ers. The scope of TCRP includes a variety of transit research material, request permission from CRP. fields including planning, service configuration, equipment, fa- cilities, operations, human resources, maintenance, policy, and ad- ministrative practices. NOTICE TCRP was established under FTA sponsorship in July 1992. Proposed by the U.S. Department of Transportation, TCRP was The project that is the subject of this report was a part of the Transit Coop- authorized as part of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Effi- erative Research Program conducted by the Transportation Research Board ciency Act of 1991 (ISTEA). On May 13, 1992, a memorandum with the approval of the Governing Board of the National Research Coun- cil. Such approval reflects the Governing Board's judgment that the project agreement outlining TCRP operating procedures was executed by concerned is appropriate with respect to both the purposes and resources of the three cooperating organizations: FTA, the National Academy of the National Research Council. Sciences, acting through the Transportation Research Board The members of the technical advisory panel selected to monitor this (TRB); and the Transit Development Corporation, Inc. (TDC), a project and to review this report were chosen for recognized scholarly com- nonprofit educational and research organization established by petence and with due consideration for the balance of disciplines appropri- APTA. TDC is responsible for forming the independent govern- ate to the project. The opinions and conclusions expressed or implied are ing board, designated as the TCRP Oversight and Project Selec- those of the research agency that performed the research, and while they tion (TOPS) Committee. have been accepted as appropriate by the technical panel, they are not nec- Research problem statements for TCRP are solicited periodi- essarily those of the Transportation Research Board, the Transit Develop- cally but may be submitted to TRB by anyone at any time. It is ment Corporation, the National Research Council, or the Federal Transit Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation. the responsibility of the TOPS Committee to formulate the re- Each report is reviewed and accepted for publication by the technical search program by identifying the highest priority projects. As panel according to procedures established and monitored by the Transporta- part of the evaluation, the TOPS Committee defines funding tion Research Board Executive Committee and the Governing Board of the levels and expected products. National Research Council. Once selected, each project is assigned to an expert panel, ap- pointed by TRB. The panels prepare project statements (requests for proposals), select contractors, and provide technical guidance The Transportation Research Board of The National Academies, the and counsel throughout the life of the project. The process for Transit Development Corporation, the National Research Council, and the developing research problem statements and selecting research Federal Transit Administration (sponsor of the Transit Cooperative agencies has been used by TRB in managing cooperative re- Research Program) do not endorse products or manufacturers. Trade or search programs since 1962. As in other TRB activities, TCRP manufacturers' names appear herein solely because they are considered project panels serve voluntarily without compensation. essential to the clarity and completeness of the project reporting. Because research cannot have the desired impact if products fail to reach the intended audience, special emphasis is placed on disseminating TCRP results to the intended end users of the re- Published reports of the search: transit agencies, service providers, and suppliers. TRB TRANSIT COOPERATIVE RESEARCH PROGRAM provides a series of research reports, syntheses of transit practice, and other supporting material developed by TCRP research. are available from: APTA will arrange for workshops, training aids, field visits, and Transportation Research Board other activities to ensure that results are implemented by urban Business Office and rural transit industry practitioners. 500 Fifth Street, NW Washington, DC 20001 The TCRP provides a forum where transit agencies can coop- eratively address common operational problems. The TCRP results and can be ordered through the Internet at http://www.national-academies.org/trb/bookstore support and complement other ongoing transit research and train- ing programs. Printed in the United States of America

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The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished schol- ars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. On the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and techni- cal matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Acad- emy of Sciences, The National as a parallel Academy organization of Sciences of outstanding is a private, nonprofit,engineers. It is autonomous self-perpetuating society of in its administration distinguished schol- and in the selection ars engaged of its in scientific members, and sharing engineering with the research, National dedicated Academy to of Sciences the furtherance the responsibility of science for and technology advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering and to their use for the general welfare. On the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in programs aimed at meeting 1863, the Academy national needs, encourages has a mandate education that requires andthe it to advise research, federal and recognizes government on the superior scientific andachieve- techni- ments of engineers. cal matters. Dr. Dr. Ralph J.William CiceroneA.isWulf is president president of the National of the National AcademyAcademy of Engineering. of Sciences. The Institute Academy The National of Medicine was established of Engineering wasin 1970 by the established National in 1964, Academy under of Sciences the charter to secure of the National the Acad- services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining emy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration to the and in health of the public. the selection The Institute of its members, acts sharing under with thethe responsibility National Academy given to the National of Sciences Academyfor the responsibility of Sciences the advising by federal its congressional government.charter to be an Academy The National adviser toof the federal government Engineering and,engineering also sponsors on its own initiative, programs to identify aimed issues national at meeting of medical care, needs, research, education encourages and education. Dr. Harvey and research, V. Fineberg and recognizes issuperior the president of the achieve- Institute of Medicine. ments of engineers. Dr. William A. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The National The Institute Research of Medicine Council was organized was established by the in 1970 byNational Academy the National of Sciences Academy in 1916 of Sciences toto associate secure the the broadof services community of science eminent members ofand technology appropriate with the Academy's professions purposes of in the examination of furthering knowledge policy matters and pertaining advising the federal to the health of the government. Functioning public. The Institute acts in accordance under with general the responsibility policies given determined to the National by the Acad- Academy of emy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, on its own initiative, of Sciences and the National to identify issues Academy of medical of care, Engineering research, inand providing services education. to the government, Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg the public, and is president the of the scientific Institute ofand engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both the Academies and Medicine. the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. William A. Wulf are chair and vice chair, The National respectively, Research of Council the National was organized Research Council. by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy's purposes of furthering knowledge and The Transportation advising Research Board the federal government. is a division Functioning of the National in accordance Research with general Council, policies which determined by serves the the Acad- National emy, the Academy Council hasof Sciences become and the the National principal Academy operating of Engineering. agency of both theThe Board'sAcademy National mission isof toSciences promote innovation and progress and the National Academy in transportation of Engineering through research. in providing In an to services objective and interdisciplinary the government, the public, and setting, the the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both the Academies and Board facilitates the sharing of information on transportation practice and policy by researchers and practitioners; the Institute of stimulates Medicine. research Dr. RalphandJ.offers Ciceroneresearch and Dr. management William A.services Wulf are that promote chair and vice technical chair, excellence; provides respectively, expertResearch of the National advice on transportation policy and programs; and disseminates research Council. results broadly and encourages their implementation. The Board's varied activities annually engage more The than Transportation 5,000 engineers, Research scientists, Board is a and other division of the transportation National and researchers Research Council, practitioners fromwhich serves and the public the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering. The Board's mission private sectors and academia, all of whom contribute their expertise in the public interest. The program is is to promote innovation supported by and progress state in transportation transportation through departments, research. federal agencies Inincluding an objective and interdisciplinary the component administrationssetting, of the the Board facilitates the U.S. Department ofsharing of information Transportation, and on transportation other organizationspractice and and policy by individuals researchers interested in and the practitioners; development of stimulates research transportation. and offers research management services that promote technical www.TRB.org excellence; provides expert advice on transportation policy and programs; and disseminates research results broadly and encourages their implementation. The Board's varied activities annually engage more www.national-academies.org than 5,000 engineers, scientists, and other transportation researchers and practitioners from the public and private sectors and academia, all of whom contribute their expertise in the public interest. The program is supported by state transportation departments, federal agencies including the component administrations of the U.S. Department of Transportation, and other organizations and individuals interested in the development of transportation. www.TRB.org www.national-academies.org

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TCRP COMMITTEE FOR PROJECT J-7 COOPERATIVE RESEARCH PROGRAM STAFF ROBERT J. REILLY, Director, Cooperative Research Programs CHAIR CHRISTOPHER W. JENKS, Manager, TCRP FRANK T. MARTIN EILEEN DELANEY, Director of Publications PBS&J, Tallahassee, FL TCRP SYNTHESIS STAFF MEMBERS STEPHEN R. GODWIN, Director for Studies and Special Programs DEBRA W. ALEXANDER JON WILLIAMS, Manager, Synthesis Studies Capital Area Transportation Authority, Lansing, MI GAIL STABA, Senior Program Officer DWIGHT FERRELL DONNA L. VLASAK, Senior Program Officer Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Austin, TX DON TIPPMAN, Editor MARK W. FUHRMANN CHERYL Y. KEITH, Senior Secretary Metro Transit, Minneapolis, MN ROBERT H. IRWIN TOPIC PANEL Consultant, Calgary, AB, Canada DEBRA W. ALEXANDER, Capital Area Transportation Authority DONNA KELSAY LORI DIGGINS, LDA Consulting, Washington, DC San Joaquin Regional Transit District, Stockton, CA HENNING EICHLER, Southern California Regional Rail Authority PAUL J. LARROUSSE BEVERLY LEMASTERS, Montgomery County (MD) Transit National Transit Institute, New Brunswick, NJ DONNA MURRAY, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority WADE LAWSON THOMAS PALMERLEE, Transportation Research Board South Jersey Transportation Authority, Atlantic City, NJ JANICE PEPPER, New Jersey Transit DAVID A. LEE PETER R. STOPHER, University of Sydney Connecticut Transit, Hartford, CT CHESTER G. WILMOT, Louisiana State University DAVID PHELPS DONALD "ED" WILSON, Nevada Department of Transportation Consultant, Moneta, VA FRED L. WILLIAMS, Federal Transit Administration (Liaison) HAYWARD M. SEYMORE, III LEE H. GIESBRECHT, Bureau of Transportation Statistics (Liaison) Q Straint, University Place, WA PAM WARD Ottumwa Transit Authority, Ottumwa, IA JOEL R. WASHINGTON Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, Washington, DC FTA LIAISON KAREN FACEN Federal Highway Administration TRB LIAISON PETER SHAW Transportation Research Board

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FOREWORD Transit administrators, engineers, and researchers often face problems for which in- By Staff formation already exists, either in documented form or as undocumented experience and Transportation practice. This information may be fragmented, scattered, and unevaluated. As a conse- Research Board quence, full knowledge of what has been learned about a problem may not be brought to bear on its solution. Costly research findings may go unused, valuable experience may be overlooked, and due consideration may not be given to recommended practices for solv- ing or alleviating the problem. There is information on nearly every subject of concern to the transit industry. Much of it derives from research or from the work of practitioners faced with problems in their day-to-day work. To provide a systematic means for assembling and evaluating such use- ful information and to make it available to the entire transit community, the Transit Co- operative Research Program Oversight and Project Selection (TOPS) Committee author- ized the Transportation Research Board to undertake a continuing study. This study, TCRP Project J-7, "Synthesis of Information Related to Transit Problems," searches out and synthesizes useful knowledge from all available sources and prepares concise, documented reports on specific topics. Reports from this endeavor constitute a TCRP re- port series, Synthesis of Transit Practice. This synthesis series reports on current knowledge and practice, in a compact format, without the detailed directions usually found in handbooks or design manuals. Each re- port in the series provides a compendium of the best knowledge available on those meas- ures found to be the most successful in resolving specific problems. PREFACE This synthesis documents the current state of the practice for web-based surveys. The intent of the report is to provide a resource for successful practice, discuss the technologies necessary to conduct web-based surveys, and present several case studies and profiles of transit agency use of web-based surveys. The topic will be of interest to transit planners and managers and those who work with them as they attempt to develop and refine web-based surveys for their own transit agencies. Particular emphasis is placed on understanding the strengths and limitations of all survey methods. Information presented in this synthesis was obtained from a literature review, as well as from survey responses from 36 transit professionals. Follow-up telephone calls were made to gather further information. Longer telephone interviews were conducted to develop three detailed case studies: NJ TRANSIT, Southern California Regional Rail Authority (Metrolink), and Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon (TriMet). Greg M. Spitz, Frances L. Niles, and Thomas J. Adler, Resource Systems Group, Inc., White River Junction, Vermont, collected and synthesized the information and wrote the paper, under the guidance of a panel of experts in the subject area. The members of the Topic Panel are acknowledged on the preceding page. This synthesis is an immediately use- ful document that records the practices that were acceptable within the limitations of the knowledge available at the time of its preparation. As progress in research and practice con- tinues, new knowledge will be added to that now at hand.

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CONTENTS 1 SUMMARY 3 CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION Objective, 3 Methodology, 3 State of Practice, 3 Synthesis Organization, 3 5 CHAPTER TWO SYNTHESIS SURVEY METHODOLOGY 7 CHAPTER THREE CURRENT STATE OF PRACTICE FOR WEB-BASED TRANSIT SURVEYS Current Use of Web-Based Surveys in Transit Industry, 7 Frequency, Types, and Areas of Usage of Transit Surveys Currently Being Conducted, 8 Areas Where Web-Based Survey Techniques Are Most Effective, 12 Methods Being Employed for Web-Based Surveys, 16 20 CHAPTER FOUR WEB-BASED SURVEY METHODOLOGIES AND SUCCESSFUL PRACTICES Questionnaire Design and Formatting, 20 Coverage and Unit Nonresponse Error Among Different Survey Types, 22 Survey Error Considerations in Web-Based Transit Surveys, 25 Coverage Error, 25 Nonresponse Error in Web Surveys, 27 Successful Practices and Challenges in Conducting Web-Based Transit Surveys, 29 Multi-Method Surveys to Mitigate Coverage Error, 31 Conclusions, 32 34 CHAPTER FIVE TECHNOLOGY 38 CHAPTER SIX CASE STUDIES NJ TRANSIT Rail ePanel, 38 Metrolink Rider Poll, Los Angeles, California, 43 Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon Interactive Map Study, 43 47 CHAPTER SEVEN CONCLUSIONS 49 REFERENCES 50 GLOSSARY

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51 APPENDIX A SYNTHESIS SURVEY 62 APPENDIX B AGENCIES RESPONDING TO SURVEY 63 APPENDIX C TABULATIONS FOR SYNTHESIS SURVEY