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3 CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION OBJECTIVE was conducted. Very little material was discovered; most addressed the large body of general research on survey meth- Over the last decade, the dramatic increase in the availabil- ods, which was then put into the transit context. Sources were ity, popularity, and use of computers has made access to the found based on searches of Transportation Research Infor- Internet ubiquitous for the majority of Americans (1). Corre- mation Services (TRIS) and by using search engines, as well spondingly, the popularity and use of web-based surveys as from recommendations of the topic panel. These sources have also been increasing in dramatic fashion, particularly in were helpful in forming an understanding of web-based sur- private-sector market research. This increase is because web- vey techniques and their applications to transit issues. based surveys are often easier and less expensive to admin- ister than alternative survey methods (once a learning curve has been overcome), and that they have the potential to offer STATE OF PRACTICE more flexibility and features than other survey methods. (The term survey "modes" will not be used in this study and Currently, there is a limited number of web-based transit instead survey "methods" will be used to avoid confusion research studies taking place, and those that are being imple- about transportation modes.) Correspondingly, web-based mented are generally somewhat restricted in scope, such as surveys also have a variety of limitations and other com- studies testing the usability of various features on a transit plexities that need to be understood, some of which are par- agency's website. However, some notable exceptions have ticular to the research issues faced by transit agencies. involved far-ranging and complex web-based surveys used in large-scale transit studies. Three of these are detailed in Owing to the strong, general trend toward web-based case studies found in chapter six of this report. surveys (1) and the need for transit researchers to under- stand the technique's strengths and limitations, this transit Based on the information gathered for this study it was synthesis was undertaken. The synthesis describes how determined that there is a strong belief among transit web-based surveys are being used by transit agencies and researchers that there is still a major coverage bias when other transit researchers and documents the experiences of using web-based methods. It was also found that web- web-based survey research as applied in the transit context. based research is considered by transit researchers to be In addition, this study not only documents the current state difficult and often costly. However, transit researchers also of the practice, but also provides a resource for successful showed strong interest in web-based survey methods, and practices in web-based surveying, discusses the technolo- gave the impression that web-based research could become gies necessary to conduct web-based surveys, and presents a major research medium, as more than 70% of respon- some specific case studies of transit agency use of web- dents not currently using web-based survey methods noted based survey techniques. they are "very likely" (28%) or "somewhat likely" (44%) to conduct such research in the next two years. Therefore, transit agencies need to be aware of how the medium METHODOLOGY works, how to implement it, what general costs to expect, and how to mitigate survey error issues. The purpose of The primary means of gathering information for this project this synthesis is to provide information that increases this was a web-based questionnaire of transit research profes- awareness. sionals. Thirty-six transit professionals from throughout the country--from large, medium, and small transit agencies; metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs); and private SYNTHESIS ORGANIZATION consultancies--responded to the study. This synthesis sur- vey provides the basis for much of the material in this report, This report is organized as follows: along with follow-up interviews with survey respondents based on their original web-based survey responses. Chapter two details the synthesis survey design and the methods used to conduct this survey to determine the In addition, a literature review covering web-based survey current state of web-based survey practice in the trans- research and web-based survey literature in the transit field portation field.

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4 Chapter three presents the results and discusses what practices and strategies being employed to incorporate was learned from the web-based survey of transit web-based surveys into transit research. professionals. It describes what is and what is not Chapter five describes how to implement a web-based happening with web-based research in the transit survey and the technology issues involved in doing so. arena and discusses the reasons for the current state Chapter six details three case studies describing proj- of transit agency practice regarding web-based sur- ects conducted by NJ TRANSIT, Southern California vey research. Regional Rail Authority (Metrolink), and Tri-County Chapter four describes some of the successful practices Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon (TriMet). that are being employed in the transit research area as The case studies are used to show what can and is being well as practices from the private sector and described done with web-based research using actual projects from in the literature. The chapter first describes how to transit agencies. Various themes described in earlier chap- design and format a web-based questionnaire. Next, it ters are reinforced and understood in a real-world context describes how to reduce and mitigate coverage and non- based on these case studies. response errors in web-based surveys and presents the Chapter seven describes the various lessons learned strengths and limitations of web-based surveys and from this synthesis effort, including ideas for when, other survey methods so that the transit researcher can why, and how to conduct transit web-based surveys. It evaluate whether and how to best conduct a web-based also makes suggestions for future research that can be survey. Finally, the chapter describes the successful conducted in this area.