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25 chapter five Survey Results: Marketing and Technology Marketing Strategies Integrating pays a lump sum to DART for all its employees to ride the Ridesharing and Transit buses free. Marketing is critical to the success of ridesharing and tran- Vanpoolers who ride a Pace bus in Illinois to or from their sit. The 41 organizations that participated in the survey vanpool pick-up point are eligible for a 30-day Commuter were asked who markets their ridesharing program. In this Club Card. The card allows vanpoolers unlimited rides on section of the survey, both transit and non-transit agencies all Pace buses. Vanpoolers can also receive a discount on a answered the same questions. Nearly two-thirds (25) said 30-day pass for rides on Chicago Transit Authority and Pace the ridesharing program is marketed together with pub- fixed routes. lic transit, although more than a third said it is marketed independently. In addition, it appears fairly common for In the Puget Sound region in Washington, companies can a ridesharing program to be marketed by more than one provide their employees with a subsidized pass that can be agency. Nearly half (19) reported that they market the ride- used not only on public transit but also for vanpools in the sharing program along with another organization such as a region (King County Metro 2009). The annual transporta- TMA or state or regional entity. More than one-third (16), tion pass program, which is called ORCA Business Passport, on the other hand, reported that they promote the program requires participating companies to buy a pass for every themselves. benefits-eligible employee. Companies, however, can choose if they want their employees to co-pay up to 50% of the cost Incentives are an important component of any marketing of an individual pass. In 2010, nearly 700 companies in King program. More than half of those surveyed indicated that County alone participated in the pass program. their ridesharing program includes incentives. Two-thirds (16), for example, offer prizes as incentives, whereas some give recognition in print or web publications or offer direct Incorporating Customers' Perspectives cash subsidies. Less common incentives include transit fare discounts, loyalty programs, commuter checks, and HOV Gathering feedback from customers is an important element parking as shown in Figure 10. in developing and improving ridesharing programs. Survey questions addressed how both public transit and non-transit It does not appear to be very common for ridesharing agencies gather feedback from customers to improve services. participants to receive credits or vouchers toward their tran- More than a third of respondents (14) indicated that the cus- sit fares, as shown in Table 16. It appears even less common tomer service department collects feedback to strengthen the for transit riders to receive credits or vouchers for ride- program (see Table 18). One respondent echoed this sentiment sharing services (Table 17); only three respondents said they with the following comment: "We have made adjustments to offer ridesharing credits or vouchers to their transit riders. the web site and program guidelines after receiving feedback However, some agencies do give ridesharing participants from our rideshare line or email." Those surveyed also reported credits toward transit fares. The following profile describes beginning the ridesharing program owing to customer inter transit fare incentives offered by public transit operators to action (six) or customer requests (ten). Nearly half (16) reported ridesharing participants in three different states. periodically surveying ridesharing customers for feedback. Agencies were queried about how often they surveyed Profile: Vanpoolers Get Deals on Transit Rides at DART, Pace, and King customers. As illustrated in Figure 11, half of those who County Metro responded to the question (ten) reported surveying customers at least once a year. The rest indicated that they survey less DART in Iowa gives vanpoolers an identification card allow- frequently than that or periodically with no set time frame. ing them to ride free on all its buses. The trips are usually short ones in downtown Des Moines, where they work dur- When asked about what method respondents use to survey ing the day. Many vanpoolers also work at a major employer, customers, three-quarters (15) indicated that they used e-mail such as Principal Financial Group, where the employer surveys, making it the most common form of collecting
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26 FIGURE 10 Incentives offered. (If you indicated above that the rideshare program provides incentives, please check all incentive programs that you provide.) (n = 24.) Table 16 Do Participants in the Rideshare Program Receive Vouchers or Other Credit Toward Their Transit Fares? Response Count Percent Rideshare program participants do not receive vouchers or credit 25 71 toward their transit fare. Rideshare program participants do receive vouchers or credit toward 10 29 their transit fare. Total responses 35 100 Table 17 Do Transit Riders Receive Vouchers or Other Credit Toward the Ridesharing Services? Response Count Percent Transit riders do not receive vouchers or other credit toward 34 92 ridesharing services. Transit riders do receive vouchers or other credit toward ridesharing 3 8 services. Total responses 37 100 Table 18 How Have You Incorporated Feedback from People Who Use the Ridesharing Program? Response Count Percent Customers are surveyed periodically for feedback. 16 43 The customer services department of our agency collects 14 38 comments, which are used to improve the program. The ridesharing program is part of our agency because of customer 10 27 requests for service. The ridesharing program was initially designed through interaction 6 16 with customers. Not applicable 8 22 Other 8 22 Total responses 37 100 Answers exceed 100% because respondents could choose multiple answers.