Methods of Rider Communication

Document Type

Policy document

Publication Date


Subject Area

planning - methods, planning - surveys, planning - signage/information, literature review - literature review


Case studies;Communication, Customer service, Information services, Interviewing, Literature reviews, Public transit, State of the practice, Surveys, Transit operating agencies


This synthesis will be of interest to transit planners and managers and to those who work with them, who strive to build new ridership and retain existing riders by providing high-quality customer service. It documents effective methods of communicating with transit customers in a variety of situations. The state of the practice in transit agency communications with customers is discussed, using the following five dimensions as a way of determining what constitutes successful communication: (1) who an agency is communicating with and where they are located; (2) content, form, and accessibility of communication; (3) communication timing and frequency; (4) communication dissemination media; and (5) capital and operating costs associated with communication. This synthesis also offers information from transit agencies about how they determine the effectiveness of their communications and lessons learned in developing communications programs and providing communications by electronic means. This report includes a literature review that revealed a wealth of information on the subject of rider communication. Literature focusing on the use of electronic media to disseminate communication was also plentiful, covering both U.S. and international studies. Survey information from 33 transit agencies is presented, covering such fundamental elements of communicating with riders as communication characteristics, types of riders receiving communication, dissemination media and access methods, and costs associated with communication. Interviews with key personnel at agencies considered to have innovative methods of communicating are included, as well as case studies from five transit agencies offering detailed program information.


Permission to link to synthesis given by TRB