Measuring the Effectiveness of a Transit Agency’s Social Media Engagement with Travelers

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

technology - intelligent transport systems, planning - surveys, planning - signage/information, ridership - behaviour


travel planning, social media, real-time travel information


This study investigated the uses of social media for travel planning on a transit system with particular attention to travel disruptions and delays. As a result of very limited research in the effectiveness of social media in a transit setting, the best practices have yet to be established. Rather than having a one-size-fits all traveler information system, these online services have the potential to provide personalized information tailored to the individual or route they are traveling. Key to this personalization is understanding the audience and their needs. This study sought to explore how, and at what level, transit riders utilize real-time travel information from the social media sites maintained by the transit agency. An online questionnaire was used to collect data about the transit agency’s social media users, these data were evaluated using Principal Component Analysis (PCA) and cross-tabulation analysis. Perhaps not surprisingly, there is a significant relationship between respondents’ age and their travel purpose. Across age groups and across travel purposes the vast majority of respondents said they most commonly check the transit agency’s social media pages, “before journey,” to gather daily updates before starting their journeys. Thus, the social media sites already have the potential to influence the users’ travel plans before their journey, such as changing their route, travel mode, and/or departure time. On the other hand, this outcome indicates that an active engagement with social media is still missing from the viewpoint of customers. As there are so many users that visit the social media pages for trip planning there is an opportunity to reach these individuals and provide a much more dynamic engagement. While the focus is on a single transit agency, most of the results transcend the specific location or agency.


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