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January 21, 2014
Transit Surveys to Help Planners Forecast, Meet Needs
DART, TRE riders to participate starting in February
Jan. 21, 2014 — Dallas-Fort Worth’s public transportation agencies are partnering with the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) to determine how residents are using the growing regional transit system and what changes could be made in the future to better accommodate the needs of an increasing population.
Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) and Trinity Railway Express (TRE) passengers will be asked to participate in two types of ridership surveys beginning next month.
Denton County Transportation Authority (DCTA) and Fort Worth Transportation Authority (The T) passengers will be surveyed from September through November, during the second phase of this $1.5 million project. The transit agencies are spending $900,000 on the survey project, while NCTCOG is contributing $600,000.
Beginning the first week of February, DART and the TRE will conduct "stop-to-stop" surveys, which will continue through mid-March, in an effort to determine the trip patterns at each bus stop and rail station. Bus passengers on certain routes will be given cards and asked to return them when getting off the bus. On selected trains, passengers will be asked to provide their final destination when they board. The goal is to gather information from 20 percent of passengers.
The other type of survey, conducted from the conclusion of the "stop-to-stop" survey through May, will involve surveyors asking randomly selected riders questions in an effort to collect demographic information and details about the use of public transportation. The goal is to capture information from 10 percent of passengers.
The surveyors will wear vests identifying their purpose and use tablet computers to enter the data. On express bus routes, passengers who agree to answer questions will be provided questionnaires to complete and return to the surveyors when they exit. The surveys are completely voluntary and answers will be kept confidential.
Questions regarding the passengers' starting locations and destinations will provide details about why people are choosing transit and paint a picture of where demand is heaviest. The survey information will allow transit agencies to better address demand, as they will know the length, time and purpose of trips.
This surveying project will provide transit agencies with a travel-behavior model allowing them to project future ridership and specific destinations with a high demand. The information could also improve the transit agencies' competitiveness when applying for federal funding for service expansion and enhancement.
"The travel survey provides essential information for management and operation of public transportation in the region, as well as investment in the regional system," said Arash Mirzaei, a senior program manager with NCTCOG. "With real, observed data, the decision-making process will be more efficient and effective. We look forward to collaborating with these agencies and helping make improvements that will enhance public transportation throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area both today and in the future."
The region's transit passengers were most recently surveyed in 2007-08. Since then, the regional transit network has experienced tremendous growth with DART's opening of the Green and Orange lines and the debut of DCTA's A-train, along with overall improvements to better serve passengers.
DART will open the Orange Line extension to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport late this year. The T is also in the design stages of planning commuter rail service from downtown Fort Worth to DFW Airport.
Transit surveys have historically been well-received in Dallas-Fort Worth, with more than 85 percent of those asked to participate agreeing to provide answers.
The last survey allowed transit agencies to better understand their networks and passengers' needs, leading to better decision-making during the transit planning process.
For information on the travel survey, visit NCTCOG.org/survey2014.
About the North Central Texas Council of Governments:
NCTCOG is a voluntary association of local governments established in 1966 to assist local governments in planning for common needs, cooperating for mutual benefit and coordinating for sound regional development. NCTCOG's purpose is to strengthen both the individual and collective power of local governments and to help them recognize regional opportunities, eliminate unnecessary duplication, and make joint decisions.
NCTCOG serves a 16-county region of North Central Texas, which is centered on the two urban centers of Dallas and Fort Worth. Currently, NCTCOG has 240 member governments including 16 counties, 170 cities, 24 school districts and 30 special districts.
For more Information on the NCTCOG Transportation Department, visit NCTCOG.org/trans.
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