OCT 20 2014
Fort Collins's Transfort Gathers Public Input via Text Message
Located along the Cache La Poudre River and bordering the Rocky Mountain foothills, Fort Collins, Colorado boasts beautiful sights and surroundings, and is a hotspot for bicyclists. The League of American Bicyclists even named it a Platinum-level Bicycle Friendly Community — one of four in the United States. Yet Fort Collins struggled with the same tension as many cities: how to provide public transit access that worked for both bikes and pedestrians?
After the launch of their rapid bus service MAX this past year, Transfort decided to start a public conversation to learn more about their ridership’s views on bikes and transit, spread awareness of how Transfort accommodates bikes, and identify new ideas for dealing with bikes in the transit system. They set up an online discussion board and scheduled a public meeting, but knew that these would not reach most riders.
The ideal survey would be completable onboard a short bus ride, yet allow for targeted follow-ups with people who wanted to participate further. With many riders already passing the travel time on their phones, text messaging was an ideal solution. Transfort partnered with Textizen and launched a cascading outreach campaign.
Engaging the Community with SMS
Launching with an eye-catching poster, and following with a series of multiple-choice and open-ended questions, Transfort collected feedback from over 500 riders that was constructive and actionable, with 85% of people who started the survey completing it. Four weeks later, they sent out a follow-up survey to a segment of the original respondents, yielding an 84% response rate. Transfort chose to make poll results available for public viewing from day one, attracting attention from local press and furthering the open dialogue.
By reaching out to their ridership and letting them offer feedback on-the-go, Transfort increased their participation well beyond what they could have mustered with public meetings or online discussion alone. Equipped with this wealth of data on people’s usage habits and a broad sample of opinions about bikes on buses, Transfort will be able to direct future improvements with confidence.
“Textizen helped us extend our reach to many riders typically unlikely to provide input in a traditional open house or an online survey format. We were grateful to the Textizen team who helped us massage our poll question wording to get the most out of our responses and really benefited from their technical knowledge and experience.”
Transit Planner, Transfort
If you’d like to learn more about how mobile can help you improve your transit services, get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check out Transfort’s web page about the MAX bicycle discussion here.