Paratransit Customer Satisfaction With Real-Time Information: The Winston-Salem Trans-AID Case

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Title: Paratransit Customer Satisfaction With Real-Time Information: The Winston-Salem Trans-AID Case
Author: Woodlief, John Ashley
Advisors: Dr. Billy M. Williams, Committee Member
Dr. Joseph E. Hummer, Committee Member
Dr. John R. Stone, Committee Chair
Abstract: Improving transit service to attract new riders is a primary goal for transit agencies. And tracking the effects of new services on customer satisfaction helps transit managers determine if they are making cost-effective decisions. This research examines the effects of improved telephone communication on customer satisfaction with transit service. Customer satisfaction data were collected before and after Winston-Salem Transit Authority installed an interactive voice response automated telephone system. Using a touch-tone telephone, passengers call WSTA to check on their paratransit trip status, cancel trip reservations, ask questions regarding transit service and policies, and conduct other trip-related functions. The research methodology uses three complementary methods to collect and process customer satisfaction data before and after the telephone system is installed: stated preference surveys, revealed preference data, and derived importance. Survey results indicate that customers adapted to using the automatic telephone system as a useful and reliable alternative to speaking with a WSTA operator. Surveys show a general increase in customer satisfaction with transit information and services, and analysis reveals a significant improvement in customer satisfaction and reduced frequency of waiting on hold or having to call back after receiving a busy signal. Derived importance analysis indicates rising customer expectations for transit service, especially the ease of calling WSTA and the time to confirm, cancel or book a trip. Revealed preference data confirm the results of the user surveys and demonstrate a significant shift of passengers from speaking to operators directly to using the automated touch-tone telephone system. Overall, the automated telephone system appears to be a valuable asset to Winston-Salem Transit.
Date: 2003-10-29
Degree: MS
Discipline: Civil Engineering

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