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A stated-preference intercept survey of transit-rider response to service disruptions


A web-based intercept survey was designed and implemented in order to capture the response of transit riders in the Chicago metropolitan area to a variety of service disruptions. Current transit riders were intercepted in the field from November 2017 through January 2018, according to a sampling plan based on local ridership information, in order to gain a representative sample for analysis. Each participant completed a questionnaire regarding the intercepted trip, along with demographic and travel experience information. The survey included a series of stated-preference responses where the current trip is randomly disrupted and alternative travel modes are proposed with service characteristics randomly altered from a baseline scenario. This was designed to understand individual trade-offs between various mode alternatives and travel plan modification strategies under a variety of scenarios. Altogether, 659 transit riders gave responses to 2626 different disruption scenarios. In general, a plurality of riders (49%) choose to continue using transit, either waiting for service restoration or using agency-provided shuttle service, although at a decreasing rate as the travel delay increases. Fewer riders, approximately 15%, choose to alter their activity patterns altogether, while 26% would alter their travel to use either a taxi or an alternative transportation network company (TNC). Having a more detailed understanding of the behavior of riders under various disruption scenarios should allow transit agencies to better prepare for service recovery and restoration after and during local disruptions.

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This work was performed under a grant from the Federal Transit Administration awarded to the University of Chicago in December 2016 (IL-26-7015-01—Coordinated Transit Response Planning). We would like to acknowledge Pace and Metra as representative stakeholders for Chicago’s transit operators, providing much of their operating experience and rich data resources to the project. In addition, the CTA has generously provided access to their own data sources and has supported the team by providing access to their facilities for the survey and has reviewed the survey design during the planning stage. We also thank the Illinois Department of Transportation for their input, as well as other municipal, local, regional, and national stakeholders for their willingness to participate.

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Correspondence to Joshua Auld.

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Auld, J., Ley, H., Verbas, O. et al. A stated-preference intercept survey of transit-rider response to service disruptions. Public Transp 12, 557–585 (2020).

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  • Emergency and disruption response
  • Transit
  • Stated-preference survey
  • Intercept survey
  • Resilience of operations