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Uses of Social Media inÂ PublicÂ Transportation A SYNTHESIS OF TRANSIT PRACTICE Subasish Das Nusrat Fahmida Trisha Ipek N. Sener Michael Walk Texas A&M Transportation Institute The Texas A&M University System College Station, TX 2022 Research sponsored by the Federal Transit Administration in cooperation with the Transit Development Corporation Subject Areas Public Transportation T R A N S I T C O O P E R A T I V E R E S E A R C H P R O G R A M TCRP SYNTHESIS 156
TCRP SYNTHESIS 156 Project J-07, Topic SB-33 ISSN 1073-4880 ISBN 978-0-309-09446-7 Â© 2022 National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. COPYRIGHT INFORMATION Authors herein are responsible for the authenticity of their materials and for obtaining written permissions from publishers or persons who own the copyright to any previously published or copyrighted material used herein. Cooperative Research Programs (CRP) grants permission to reproduce material in this publication for classroom and not-for-profit purposes. Permission is given with the understanding that none of the material will be used to imply TRB, AASHTO, FAA, FHWA, FTA, GHSA, NHTSA, or TDC endorsement of a particular product, method, or practice. It is expected that those reproducing the material in this document for educational and not-for-profit uses will give appropriate acknowledgment of the source of any reprinted or reproduced material. For other uses of the material, request permission from CRP. Credit for cover photo: TTI Communications NOTICE The report was reviewed by the technical panel and accepted for publication according to procedures established and overseen by the Transportation Research Board and approved by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The opinions and conclusions expressed or implied in this report are those of the researchers who performed the research and are not necessarily those of the Transporta- tion Research Board; the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; or the program sponsors. The Transportation Research Board; the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; and the sponsors of the Transit Cooperative Research Program do not endorse products or manufacturers. Trade or manufacturersâ names or logos appear herein solely because they are considered essential to the object of the report. Published reports of the TRANSIT COOPERATIVE RESEARCH PROGRAM are available from Transportation Research Board Business Office 500 Fifth Street, NW Washington, DC 20001 and can be ordered through the Internet by going to https://www.mytrb.org/MyTRB/Store/default.aspx Printed in the United States of America TRANSIT COOPERATIVE RESEARCH PROGRAM The nationâs growth and the need to meet mobility, environmental, and energy objectives place demands on public transit systems. Cur- rent systems, some of which are old and in need of upgrading, must expand service area, increase service frequency, and improve efficiency to serve these demands. Research is necessary to solve operating prob- lems, adapt appropriate new technologies from other industries, and introduce innovations into the transit industry. The Transit Coopera- tive Research Program (TCRP) serves as one of the principal means by which the transit industry can develop innovative near-term solutions to meet demands placed on it. The need for TCRP was originally identified in TRB Special Report 213âResearch for Public Transit: New Directions, published in 1987 and based on a study sponsored by the Urban Mass Transportation Administrationânow the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). A report by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), Transportation 2000, also recognized the need for local, problem- solving research. TCRP, modeled after the successful National Coop- erative Highway Research Program (NCHRP), undertakes research and other technical activities in response to the needs of transit ser- vice providers. The scope of TCRP includes various transit research fields including planning, service configuration, equipment, facilities, operations, human resources, maintenance, policy, and administrative practices. TCRP was established under FTA sponsorship in July 1992. Pro- posed by the U.S. Department of Transportation, TCRP was authorized as part of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA). On May 13, 1992, a memorandum agreement outlining TCRP operating procedures was executed by the three cooperating organi- zations: FTA; the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, acting through the Transportation Research Board (TRB); and the Transit Development Corporation, Inc. (TDC), a nonprofit educational and research organization established by APTA. TDC is responsible for forming the independent governing board, designated as the TCRP Oversight and Project Selection (TOPS) Commission. Research problem statements for TCRP are solicited periodically but may be submitted to TRB by anyone at any time. It is the responsibility of the TOPS Commission to formulate the research program by identi- fying the highest priority projects. As part of the evaluation, the TOPS Commission defines funding levels and expected products. Once selected, each project is assigned to an expert panel appointed by TRB. The panels prepare project statements (requests for propos- als), select contractors, and provide technical guidance and counsel throughout the life of the project. The process for developing research problem statements and selecting research agencies has been used by TRB in managing cooperative research programs since 1962. As in other TRB activities, TCRP project panels serve voluntarily without compensation. Because research cannot have the desired effect if products fail to reach the intended audience, special emphasis is placed on disseminat- ing TCRP results to the intended users of the research: transit agen- cies, service providers, and suppliers. TRB provides a series of research reports, syntheses of transit practice, and other supporting material developed by TCRP research. APTA will arrange for workshops, train- ing aids, field visits, and other activities to ensure that results are imple- mented by urban and rural transit industry practitioners. TCRP provides a forum where transit agencies can cooperatively address common operational problems. TCRP results support and complement other ongoing transit research and training programs.
The National Academy of Sciences was established in 1863 by an Act of Congress, signed by President Lincoln, as a private, non- governmental institution to advise the nation on issues related to science and technology. Members are elected by their peers for outstanding contributions to research. Dr. Marcia McNutt is president. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences to bring the practices of engineering to advising the nation. Members are elected by their peers for extraordinary contributions to engineering. Dr. John L. Anderson is president. The National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) was established in 1970 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences to advise the nation on medical and health issues. Members are elected by their peers for distinguished contributions to medicine and health. Dr. Victor J. Dzau is president. The three Academies work together as the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation and conduct other activities to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions. The National Academies also encourage education and research, recognize outstanding contributions to knowledge, and increase public understanding in matters of science, engineering, and medicine. Learn more about the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine at www.nationalacademies.org. The Transportation Research Board is one of seven major programs of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The mission of the Transportation Research Board is to provide leadership in transportation improvements and innovation through trusted, timely, impartial, and evidence-based information exchange, research, and advice regarding all modes of transportation. The Boardâs varied activities annually engage about 8,000 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. Learn more about the Transportation Research Board at www.TRB.org.
CRP STAFF FOR TCRP SYNTHESIS 156 Christopher J. Hedges, Director, Cooperative Research Programs Lori L. Sundstrom, Deputy Director, Cooperative Research Programs Gwen Chisholm Smith, Manager, Transit Cooperative Research Program Mariela Garcia-Colberg, Senior Program Officer Emily Griswold, Program Coordinator Natalie Barnes, Director of Publications Heather DiAngelis, Associate Director of Publications TCRP PROJECT J-07 PANEL Elizabeth Presutti, Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority (DART), Des Moines, IA (Chair) Jameson Auten, Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, Kansas City, MO Mallory Avis, Battle Creek Transit, Battle Creek, MI Fabian Cevallos, Tamarac, FL (Retired) Roderick B. Diaz, Southern California Regional Rail Authority, Los Angeles, CA Mark Donaghy, Petersburg, KY (Retired) Rachel Dungca, Metro Transit, Minneapolis-St. Paul, St. Anthony, MN Christian T. Kent, Christian T. Kent, Transit Management Consulting, LLC, Virginia Beach, VA Ronald J. Kilcoyne, TMD, Walnut Creek, CA Brad J. Miller, Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA), St. Petersburg, FL Beverly Neff, San Diego Metropolitan Transit System, San Diego, CA Jarrett William Stoltzfus, Proterra, Walnut, CA Edward F. Watt, Rockaway Park, NY (Retired) David C. Wilcock, VHB, Boston, MA Tara Clark, FTA Liaison Arthur L. Guzzetti, APTA Liaison William Terry, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey Liaison TOPIC SB-33 PANEL Pamela Bynoe-Reed, Central Midlands Regional Transit Authority (The COMET), Columbia, SC Krisite Cox, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA), Cleveland, OH Carolina del Busto, Miami Dade Transit, Miami, FL Steve Gladstone, Maryland Transit Administration, Baltimore, MD Martin Munguia, Community Transit, Everett, WA Elisabeth Rood, KFH Group, Inc., Bethesda, MD Tom Williams, Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District, Portland, OR Nadine Pembleton, FTA Liaison Thomas Scotton, FTA Liaison Marc EbuÃ±a, Rhode Island Public Transit Authority Liaison Elaine Ferrell, TRB Liaison C O O P E R A T I V E R E S E A R C H P R O G R A M S
ABOUT THE TCRP SYNTHESIS PROGRAM Transit administrators, engineers, and researchers often face problems for which information already exists, either in documented form or as undocumented experience and practice. This infor- mation may be fragmented, scattered, and unevaluated. As a consequence, 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 solving 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 useful information and to make it available to the entire transit community, the Transit Cooperative Research Program Oversight and Project Selection (TOPS) Committee authorized the Transportation Research Board to undertake a continuing study. This study, TCRP Project J-7, âSynthesis of Information Related to Transit Practices,â 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 report 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 report in the series provides a compendium of the best knowledge available on those measures found to be the most successful in resolving specific problems. FOREWORD By Mariela Garcia-Colberg Staff Officer Transportation Research Board During the past 20 years, social media has provided transit agencies with unparalleled opportu- nities to connect with their customers. The current synthesis topic will update TCRP Synthesis 99: Uses of Social Media in Public Transportation and will again explore the use of social media among transit agencies. The study will document innovative and effective practices in the United States and Canada. The objective of the study was to analyze the way that transit agencies communicate with their audiences through the use of social media. It was also to synthesize the reasons why transit agencies use social media and to explore which social media platforms are used and how, the applications and metrics used by transit agencies, and the measurements of social media effectiveness. A literature review and completed survey responses of social media practices of 46 transit agencies were collected. An analysis on the state of the practice, emphasizing lessons learned, current practices, challenges, and gaps in information is provided. Seven case examples representing a variety of agencies were also developed. Subasish Das and his team from Texas A&M Transportation Institute collected and synthesized the information and wrote the report, under the guidance of a panel of experts in the subject area. The members of the topic panel are acknowledged on page iv. This synthesis is an immediately useful document that records the practices that were acceptable within the limitations of the knowl- edge available at the time of its preparation. As progress in research and practice continues, new knowledge will be added to that now at hand.
1 Summary 4 Chapter 1 Introduction 4 Background 4 Objective and Scope 4 Technical Approach to Project Study 6 Organization of the Report 8 Chapter 2 Literature Review 8 Introduction 8 Information Sharing and Feedback Collection 11 Public Engagement and Sentiment Analysis 12 Gathering Passenger Information 13 Transit Promotion 14 Support of and Influence on Organizational Goals 16 Surveys on Transit Agency Practices 16 Other Issues 17 Key Findings 18 Chapter 3 Survey 18 Background 18 Agencies Surveyed 18 Social Media Applications 19 Content Management 19 Social Media Considerations 20 Effectiveness in Reaching Target Riders 21 Common Barriers 22 Social Media Policies 22 Accessibility for People with Disabilities 23 Archiving Social Media Content 23 Metrics for Measuring Social Media Success 23 COVID-19 Considerations 24 Lessons Learned 24 Future Needs 25 Key Findings 26 Chapter 4 Case Examples 26 Introduction 26 Case Example 1: San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit 29 Case Example 2: Miami-Dade Transit 31 Case Example 3: CyRide 33 Case Example 4: Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky C O N T E N T S
35 Case Example 5: Central Midlands Regional Transit Authority 37 Case Example 6: Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority 39 Case Example 7: Halifax Transit 42 Key Findings 44 Chapter 5 Conclusions 45 Key Findings 45 Challenges and Barriers 46 Lessons Learned 46 Further Needs 48 Glossary of Terms 51 References 54 Abbreviations and Acronyms 55 Appendix A Participating Agencies 59 Appendix B Survey Questionnaire 72 Appendix C Survey Results 108 Appendix D Social Media Metrics of the Case Examples