The last comprehensive on-board survey of transit passengers in the Philadelphia urban area was done over 20 years ago, in 1990. Many changes have occurred in the intervening years, such as the outmigration from the urban area to the suburbs, and the old data no longer reflects current travel patterns. Given the important role that this data plays in the model development and overall planning process, made a new survey imperative.
DVRPC updated the 1990 data by conducting a new on-board survey during 2010 and 2011. All SEPTA, PATCO, and Pennsylvania TMA transit routes within the DVRPC region were surveyed. A stratified random sample was conducted in three phases. Approximately 160,000 surveys were handed out, and 21,500 completed surveys were returned, for an overall return rate of 13.5%.
The survey results provide a much clearer and up-to-date snapshot of the current users of the public transit system in the Philadelphia urban area. Among the findings:
• The system is primarily used for work trips with anywhere from 45% (bus and trolley) to 73% (regional rail) of passenger trips being journey to work.
• Close to 80% of passengers report riding 5 or more days per week.
• 40% of passengers report that they have no other way to travel. Another 52% of passengers have other options, but use public transit because it is the best choice for them.
• In terms of access mode, during the AM Peak, approximately 70% of passengers walk to the bus or train, and 25% drive to a park and ride. During the mid-day, 88% walk and only 6% drive to a park and ride.
• During the AM Peak, close to 50% of passengers are able to complete their trip using a single bus or train, e.g., without having to make a transfer.
• The responses to several of the survey questions suggest several distinct populations of users. For example, the median income for city bus passengers falls in the $25,000 to $34,999 category, while the median for regional rail passengers falls in the $75,000 to $99,999 category.