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5 CHAPTER TWO SYNTHESIS SURVEY METHODOLOGY The project survey was designed to determine the ways that The synthesis survey was divided into four sections: web-based surveys are being used in the transit field and to understand how transit researchers are conducting their · Screener studies. The respondents who were included in the survey Type of organization in which respondent works. sample came from a variety of organizations: public transit · General survey inventory agencies, consultancies, universities, MPOs, and other gov- Frequency and types of surveys respondent is ernment entities focused on transportation and transit- involved in conducting related issues (Table 1). Origindestination, Customer satisfaction, The "convenience sampling" method was used for Mode choice, this synthesis owing to the relatively small number of Planning, and researchers in the field and the limited scope of the syn- Other. thesis project. The sampling list was therefore developed Characteristics of those surveys; that is, panel, cross- using easily available and relevant sources that were not sectional, etc. necessarily exhaustive. Specifically, the sample list came Modes studied. from the TCRP synthesis topic panel, the APTA Market- Recruitment, sampling, and administration methods. ing and Communications Committee, the TRB Survey Quality of results data set. Methods Committee, the TRB Marketing and Fare Policy Purpose of survey. Committee, and other selected researchers in the transit To whom results were presented. field who were recommended by panel members and · Web-based survey specifics others affiliated with this project. The recruitment was Advantages and disadvantages to conducting web- conducted by means of e-mail, with each invitation con- based surveys. taining a custom link with a unique embedded password, Likelihood of implementing web-based surveys (if which limited a respondent to answering the survey only not currently in use). once. Objectives of web-based surveys. Design, software used, and hosting of web-based Survey recruitment took place in three stages: the first surveys. invitations went to the TCRP Synthesis Topic Panel, the Features of field for web-based surveys. TRB Survey Methods Committee, and the TRB Marketing Support required for conducting web-based surveys. and Fare Policy Committee. During the second stage, e-mail Recruitment methods. invitations were sent to selected researchers in the trans- Resulting data set characteristics. portation field. In the last stage, invitations were sent to the Response rates. APTA Marketing and Communications Committee. The Costs. fieldwork for this synthesis survey took place during Febru- Successful practices. ary and March 2006. Overall, the response rate for completed Web use by organization. surveys was 21% (36 of 175 invited). · Contact information. As well as being a convenience sample, it should also be noted that the sample may have nonresponse bias as a result A copy of the survey questionnaire is included in Appen- of the survey invitation being titled "TCRP Synthesis Topic dix A. SH-07--Web-Based Survey Techniques." This nonresponse bias might have occurred because those who do not conduct The survey was converted into a web questionnaire using web-based surveys may have elected not to respond, believ- a proprietary software program developed by the research ing that they were not relevant to the study. Therefore, it is team. As with other computer-based survey methods, web- possible that the survey actually overstates web-based survey based surveys can be programmed to validate responses as research in transit. they are entered.
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6 TABLE 1 types, then the types of surveys they were asked about were RESPONDENT ORGANIZATIONS TO SYNTHESIS randomly balanced to ensure enough of each survey type was SURVEY collected. If respondents provided information on only one or Organization Count Percent two types of surveys, they were asked only about those types. Public transit agency 25 69 Consultancy 4 11 A successful practice for any web-based survey is to pro- University 2 6 vide support for respondents with a "help desk." For the syn- Metropolitan planning organization 3 8 thesis survey, a survey-specific e-mail account was created Federal government 1 3 and monitored during the course of the survey's fieldwork City government transportation department 1 3 schedule. A toll-free telephone number was placed on every Total 36 100 page of the survey so that a respondent could immediately call the research staff if confused by a question or in case of Another favorable feature of web-based surveys is the abil- technical difficulties. Beyond direct contact through phone ity to follow skip and branching patterns that depend on pre- and e-mail, the live survey data were monitored for com- vious responses. In this regard, web-based surveys are much ments that warranted attention from survey administrators. easier for the user than paper-based surveys, where skip pat- Finally, the database was also checked regularly to see if terns can become confusing. In the synthesis survey respon- respondents were encountering any technical errors that were dents were asked the frequency with which they conduct five trapped by the software system and written to the database. different types of transportation-related surveys, as outlined earlier. To relieve respondent fatigue, respondents were asked To complete the survey effort, the data were reviewed and detailed questions about a maximum of three types of sur- any respondents that required or requested follow-up on their veys. If respondents had conducted more than three survey responses were contacted for further information.