Humanizing Transit Data: Connecting Customer Experience Statistics to Individuals’ Unique Transit Stories

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, place - urban, mode - bus, mode - paratransit, mode - subway/metro, mode - tram/light rail, literature review, planning - methods, planning - surveys, ridership - behaviour, ridership - perceptions


transit agencies, survey, customer journey maps (CJMs), paratransit


Transit agencies often collect valuable information about their customers, through opinion and behavior surveys that assess travel experience and customer needs. The results of these questionnaires can be used to gain a representative snapshot of the behavior and opinions of a transit agency’s customer base. These assessments are often based on large sample sizes and are therefore useful for understanding broad trends related to users’ overall travel experience. However, these large-scale analyses generally do not capture the important and rich nuances that individuals experience while in a transit station, or on-board a train, conventional bus, streetcar, light rail, subway, or a paratransit vehicle. The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate how transit agencies can gain a better understanding of paratransit customers’ experiences during their interactions with paratransit and conventional transit services. Using data from the Toronto Transit Commissions’ paratransit division and the results of in-person customer interviews, a five-step mixed-method approach for mapping paratransit customers’ travel experiences is developed. Specifically, the aggregate analyses of customers’ experiences and opinions which are derived from agency-wide customer satisfaction surveys are combined with the information obtained through in-person discussions. Four example customer journey maps (CJMs) are presented, and findings demonstrate that by using CJMs, transit agencies can gain a broad understanding of their customer base while also understanding the emotions, needs, desires, and stories of individual transit users.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by SAGE, copyright remains with them.