RideKC conducts regular customer satisfaction surveys as part of its strategic plan. Customers were surveyed on RideKC Bus, MAX, Flex, and Micro Transit in October and November 2020. In particular, we wanted to survey riders during the COVID-19 pandemic to understand how and why customers continued to use transit, in addition to gauging customer satisfaction.
The COVID-19 pandemic required KCATA to modify and reduce service. In normal times, when transit agencies reduce service, customer satisfaction can decrease. However, satisfaction improved for almost every aspect of service in 2020 compared to 2019.
The largest increase in satisfaction was for the helpfulness of call center representatives, up almost 10 percentage points. Overall, 86% of bus users were very or somewhat satisfied, compared to 84% in 2019. Reliability and vehicles running on schedule are the two most important aspects to riders. On-time performance was 88% for the year for KCATA routes, and we continue to monitor and work to improve customers’ top priority. Satisfaction with reliability is consistent across Bus and MAX users at 70% satisfaction. Overall, RideKC Flex service received high marks across the board. RideKC Micro Transit also received high satisfaction ratings except for two key elements: accuracy of vehicle arrival times at 52%, and trip wait times at 44%.
We also learned about who continues to use RideKC. During the pandemic, some workers were able to work from home, but many essential workers continue to rely on RideKC to access work and serve family needs. Of riders who said they continued to use RideKC during the pandemic, 45% were going to work. An additional 16% said they relied on RideKC for grocery and other family needs during the pandemic, and 11% relied on RideKC for health and medical needs.
KCATA implemented several measures to keep customers and employees safe during the pandemic. It is a testament to KCATA’s operators, supervisors, and call center agents that customer satisfaction increased in 2020 based on riders surveyed. RideKC’s ridership recovered to approximately 70% of ridership, transit agencies across the nation struggled to return to 50% of 2019 levels. Steady ridership returns in 2020 are also a testament to KCATA’s quick response to COVID-19 and zero fare policy. The fare suspension received the highest satisfaction level of any of our COVID measures, and all measures were rated at 70% or higher.
By focusing on the needs of customers and prioritizing essential services, RideKC has been able to stay ahead of national ridership trends and to continue to connect people to opportunity. The key lessons from the annual customer satisfaction survey are: