Accessibility of Communication Technology and the Rider Experience Case Study of Saint Louis, Missouri, Metro

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

technology - intelligent transport systems, mode - bus, mode - rail, operations - scheduling, place - north america, mode - subway/metro, planning - surveys, ridership - behaviour


Real-time information (RTI), transit riders, schedules, smartphone applications, interactive voice response, mobile-based websites, demographic groups


Real-time information (RTI) informing transit riders about transit schedules, next bus or train arrivals, and service alerts is increasingly available, particularly through Internet-enabled smartphone applications. Alternative technologies, such as interactive voice response and mobile-based websites, can also provide this information. Currently, the extent of communication technology use by transit riders is largely unknown. Paired with an investigation of cellular phone use by transit riders and the general American population, an analysis of Saint Louis, Missouri, Metro's onboard survey data was conducted to examine riders' communication technology use and to determine how this use may affect rider experience and ridership-generating potential. Additional analyses identified specific demographic groups that would benefit from supplemental technology methods more conducive to their particular information accessibility. Results showed that communication technology use had risen substantially in recent years and that Metro riders who used smartphones or text messaging reported significantly higher levels of satisfaction with service factors, such as the ability to make transfer connections and personal security at transit centers. Specific demographic groups (e.g., riders older than 40 years of age) were less likely to own smartphones, and therefore computer-based websites and interactive voice responses might be the best supplementary alternatives for those groups. The current study emphasizes the growing need for RTI applications in the transit industry and suggests that development of enhanced communication methodologies can positively affect the rider experience. Furthermore, differences in individual technology accessibility call for RTI application development that mirrors the unique characteristics of its ridership.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Transportation Research Board, Washington, copyright remains with them.