Prioritizing the Passenger Experience in Public Transit

The transit industry is at a historic moment in time. Passenger expectations are rapidly rising. Ridership is declining. We must be more competitive, providing an easier, more friendly and hassle-free experience. We need to be improving every step of the passenger experience across all modes, which requires continual focus.
There is much to do.

The good news is that a recent survey of U.S. Transit Industry Leaders from shows that transit leaders (98%) plan to focus on improvements over the next three years. (Source)


What Must be Done to Improve the Passenger Experience

From our decades of experience operating transit
systems across the world, here are actions we feel are priorities:


Continuously Audit the Passenger Experience. Take trips in all modes. Make rigorous assessments at each step that riders go through, from the vantage point of different personas (rider types). Identify pain points and frustrations and systematically improve them. Transdev’s T.ex has a strong methodology.


Invest in an Integrated Passenger App. Today’s passengers want mobile ticketing and real-time information. They also prefer to see all their transportation options in one place, decide on the best option for them in that moment, book, pay, and ride. Cityway is a Transdev company that builds integrated apps and custom MaaS solutions for cities.


Prioritize Passenger Information on Websites Optimized for Mobile Use. Minimize the clicks it takes to get what they need. Austin and Denver are great examples. Also, make sure all signage in your system is impeccable.


Improve your Service Design. Ensure you have a competitive and compelling service design that matches today’s mobility patterns and job centers. Survey and conduct focus groups of both current riders and non-riders and redesign as needed.


Use Passenger Feedback to Improve. Whether it is complaints, compliments or suggestions – record and track all passenger feedback. Then engage your teams to find the root causes of recurring complaints and fix them. Deploy a well-designed CRM system such as Transdev’s LISTEN.


Invest in more Frequent, Punctual Service and Reliable Transfers. Many studies prove this is vital to sustaining and growing ridership.

What We Believe

Transit must become more competitive to meet rising passenger expectations and to help slow nationwide declines in ridership.

This is an historic moment in our industry. We need to make improvements in each step of the passenger experience to make transit far more convenient. We must:


Invest in more robust service levels and improved on-time performance, to make transit more convenient, reliable and respectful of riders’ time.


Systematically audit and improve every step of the passenger experience across all modes. Never stop.


Implement technology that passengers want: mobile ticketing and real-time information. Move toward MaaS – so riders can see all options, book and pay.

The good news is that a recent survey of U.S. Transit Leaders shows they are aware of the need to improve. However, it is a demanding process that must be continuous and rigorous. It requires new kinds of collaboration between departments and technology partners, and shared determination.


of U.S. transit leaders consider passenger experience to be a major priority in the next three years.  (Source)


of riders want WiFi because they use their phones “all the time while on transit.” (Source)


of transit leaders in
the U.S. see MaaS as
significant opportunity
for the future.  (Source)

What Inspires Us

Learning from TNCs (Uber/Lyft): The Case for Passenger Experience

by Yann Leriche,
Transdev CEO

Uber Economics

by Joseph P. Schwieterman
& Mallory Livingston

Transforming the Transit Passenger Experience


Transit Industry Survey Finds Customer Experience is Vital

Metro Magazine

If it was Easier to Pay for Public Transport, Ridership Would Increase: Study

Metro Magazine

Human Transit — How Clearer Thinking about Public Transit can Enrich our Communities and our Lives.

by Jared Walker
(See key pages 26 & 27)

Top Eight Reasons People Give Up on Public Transit

by Jeff McMahon,

LA’s Plan to Reboot its
Bus System—Using Cell
Phone Data

by Adam Rogers,

Summary: Learning from Uber/Lyft

by Yann Leriche, CEO, Transdev North America

Yann Leriche, CEO of Transdev North America, recently wrote a white paper outlining the available research on how riders choose between transit and ride-hailing / ride-sharing services.


Passengers who choose ride-hailing services do so because they save time. Yet time savings alone doesn’t explain their behavior.


Passengers pay a relatively high cost for the time they save.


Time is a key factor, but ride-hailing passengers also highly value other aspects of the experience:

  • Ease of use, convenience, reliability, real time information, comfort, and other aspects of perceived overall quality.


Their perception of transit quality enters their decisions as well:

  • Riders are 5 times more likely to choose Uber, Lyft or Via when they perceive the experience of using transit as unfavorable than when it is perceived as favorable. (Source)
  • And if transit quality is poor, they are more likely to believe that Uber X costs less than it actually does. (Source)

Our Roving Experts

Come join the discussion with our passenger experience experts at industry conferences around the country. We will be sharing information about various aspects of the passenger experience and looking forward to lively conversations and debates.

Delivering on Passenger Experience in Paratransit Call Centers and Brokerages

Presentation by Jamie Chambers


See her at the CTAA Conference
May 19th at 2pm, Palm Springs, CA

Event Info
Innovations in Passenger Experience with Non-Emergency Medical Transport, Call Centers and Brokerage

Presentation by Jamie Chambers

See her at the COMTO Conference
July 12th at 2pm, Tampa, FL

Event Info
Transit Leader Survey
Passenger Experience
Microtransit / First and Last Mile
Autonomous Vehicles

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