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16 time, and these times are validated such that no trip can have METHODS BEING EMPLOYED FOR WEB-BASED overlapping times with any other trip (see Figure 11). The data SURVEYS set for a study such as this will be clean and validated, saving Survey Design, Hosting, and Invitations on agency costs for data entry and data cleaning. Approximately half of respondents using web-based surveys As a respondent enters each new trip made throughout the have contracted with an outside consulting or web develop- course of the day, the details of the validated trips can be ment firm to design and host their surveys (see Figure 13). shown at the bottom of the page (see Figure 12). This makes SurveyMonkey and SurveyTracker were the two software for an easy reference, and the respondent can easily check to applications identified by those who used an online survey confirm that every trip made has been entered and that all the development tool to create their surveys. These were the times are correct. Again, this technology ensures complete applications identified during the survey process and are not and validated data. an endorsement of specific products and services. As with many transit and transportation surveys, house- Web-based survey invitations are frequently sent by e-mail hold travel diaries require the geocoding of trip start and end to potential respondents. However, one serious and frequent locations and web-based technology can provide major ben- downside to e-mail is the tendency for mass e-mail to be efits in this aspect of the survey: rerouted by spam filters meant to capture unsolicited junk e-mail. Several solutions to the problem do exist, including As mentioned previously, online surveys can offer a these two cited by survey respondents: using e-mail lists con- respondent several ways to input an address: by enter- taining existing customers from transit agencies and/or using ing the specific address, by entering a nearby intersec- third-party bulk-e-mailer reputation monitoring tools. Third- tion, or by offering an interactive map to search. party monitoring tools will automatically notify a sender if Online surveys can "remember" all addresses input by a they have been placed on a filtered list and are not having respondent and easily offer that address, if it comes up e-mail delivered at the Internet service provider (ISP) level. again, which then only needs to be checked, not rewritten. In using lists provided by transit agencies, the sender would FIGURE 11 MI Travel Counts (Michigan DOT) trip details page.

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17 FIGURE 12 MI Travel Counts (Michigan DOT) trip rostering page. Contracted out to consulting or web development firm 55% Designed with online survey development tool 27% Designed in house using web page layout software 18% Hosted by consulting or web development firm 45% Hosted by a survey provider 33% Hosted in house on organization's computers 22% 0 20 40 60 80 100 Percent FIGURE 13 Survey design methods.

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18 hope that the e-mail recipients recognize the subject and con- Researchers also pointed out that they are not using web- tent of the e-mail and have expressly permitted mail regard- based surveys across the board, but are using such surveys ing that agency. Other tools to increase e-mail delivery for smaller, more focused studies. "The online web survey include hosted e-mail solutions, in which a third party sends was a different type of planning survey. It was focused on the e-mail; sender authentication; and software tools to iden- planning for a new regional transit ticket. The paper survey tify words, phrases, and common e-mail structures that often is our basic planning survey." One respondent noted that trigger spam filters. These solutions are discussed further in they were conducting web-based surveys on a limited basis chapter four. "as they relate to marketing promotions," whereas another cited such a web-based survey "to university and college Three-quarters of respondents using e-mail invitations students." also noted that they send e-mail reminders to those who do not respond within a certain time frame and indicated pro- Signs indicating increased web-based survey use coming viding an average of two reminders. Other means to remind in the near future are linked to increased access to e-mail and respondents were by telephone or mail. the Internet. One respondent noted that, "We are waiting for our customer base of smart card users to grow . . . and give an e-mail address. Then we will have the opportunity to Survey Administration e-mail them a survey, but we need to create the questionnaire online . . ." As mentioned previously, 39% of researchers described one of their most recent surveys as a web-based survey for this synthesis. Of those web-based surveys, approximately one- Data Quality and Validation in Web-Based Surveys third were exclusively web-based, with two-thirds using a "multi-method" administration, combining the web-based In addition to being more convenient for many respondents portion with either paper, telephone, or a personal interview to access, researchers appreciate web-based surveys for their (see Table 4). high-quality data with online validation, consistency, and geocoding. Researchers also believe that a technical benefit Reasons given for doing a multi-method survey included of web-based surveys is the ability to link between tables in reaching a larger sample "to cover all target audiences," max- databases to prevent incorrect entries, as in the NJ TRANSIT imizing response rate by making the survey more easily avail- example connecting train numbers and train times. Another able by ". . . giving people who are in a hurry an alternative technical benefit mentioned was, "The ability to ask ques- to taking time on the spot," and getting more in-depth details tions and evaluate concepts that may be too complicated to following a broad survey ". . . later in the year a telephone present on the phone." On the individual response level, web- survey is done with a smaller sample and fewer questions." based technology yields "superior data quality" and allows One researcher noted, "We use the online survey because it is collection of "customer comments that are more unbiased so easy to disseminate and no data entry is required. We use than from other survey methods." Moreover, researchers felt paper because some employers . . . have large populations of "respondents give more honest answers" because of the employees without access to computers." anonymity of completing surveys over the Internet and that they obtain "more complete answers" to questions because To facilitate the response to web-based surveys, researchers of the ease of entering comments and not being rushed in reported that they provided several means of support for their response. In sum, those using web-based surveys are respondents including a toll-free contact number for questions, generally satisfied with the quality of their resulting data sets e-mail support, a link on the survey website to frequently (see Figure 14). asked questions, and/or links with context-specific help on the web page. Concerns About Web-Based Survey Use TABLE 4 WEB-BASED SURVEY ADMINISTRATION As discussed before, sample bias is the primary concern of COMBINATIONS both those currently using and those currently not using web- Administration Type Percent based surveys. Two-thirds of respondents not currently using web-based surveys mentioned that they are concerned with Online web survey 36 their inability to completely reach their target market and Online web survey, paper 29 with the resulting sample bias owing to a lack of Internet Online web survey, telephone, paper 21 access by transit users; "[we] are skeptical about assuming Online web survey, telephone, paper, 14 [web-based] results will reflect our riders." computer-based, personal interview Total 100 Respondents also expressed concern that the sample for web-based surveys might be viewed as "self-selected" and

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19 Agree Neutral 100% Disagree 80% 60% 40% 20% 0% Destination Satisfaction Choice Planning Other Destination Satisfaction Choice Planning Other Mode Mode Customer Customer Origin- Origin- Survey dataset was clean Respondents completed every question FIGURE 14 Data set results from web-based surveys. worried about their inability to guarantee "one survey com- far as their current ways of conducting research. Approxi- plete per person." One researcher noted that their "organi- mately 10% of respondents said that they had no need for zation feels that web-based response will bias the results conducting web-based surveys because they are looking because of differences in demographic characteristics of only for on-board users of their transit systems and are those with and without Internet access." The next most therefore able to conduct their surveys on board their trains, important concern, given by one-quarter of respondents, buses, etc. A few respondents reported that they were just was the lack of in-house expertise in web-based survey beginning to try out this method or would be in the next few technology or inadequate funds to enable them to develop years. Despite these concerns, 70% of those not currently their capabilities in the area. Several researchers expressed conducting web-based surveys said that they are likely to the reality that their organizations "are slow to change" as begin within the next two years.