Simplification is goal of Portland-area public transit survey

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PORTLAND — The area’s public transit providers are conducting an online survey to find ways of improving communications with riders.

It’s an initial step in a process that may ultimately create a single, common logo identifying bus stops and other transit locations.

The survey asks riders and non-riders a short series of questions about the transit providers’ websites, schedules and promotional materials, as well as about ticketing and transfers.

The survey is being coordinated by the Portland Area Comprehensive Transportation System and the Greater Portland Council of Governments, with participation by Casco Bay Lines, METRO, the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority, the Regional Transportation Program, ShuttleBus-ZOOM, the South Portland Bus Service and the York County Community Action Corporation.

Each transit provider is sharing the survey through email and its own online communications, and the deadline for responding is Friday, GPCOG Transit and Energy Planner Jennifer Puser said.

“The survey will help shape a plan whose ultimate goal is to improve service for everyone,” Puser said. “There are a lot of different (transit) providers, and if you’re a rider, you don’t always know how to get from point A to point B.”

Two focus groups were recently conducted to gather additional opinions, according to Puser. Representatives of PACTS and GPCOG staff will use the input to draft a marketing plan by the end of March. 

“We’re looking at what are the opportunities for a common brand, whether that means having one website, a common logo or a single color scheme,” she said. “It’s really about how can we tie things together so people can get where they’re going.”

While the survey does not focus on how transit providers might work together to improve their operations, there’s still much that can be done to improve their communications.

“What’s struck me so far is that … people who aren’t riding would like to, but don’t necessarily know about improvements such as buying tickets online, or making transfers,” Puser said. “What we have is good, but we can build on it.”

Together, the seven transit providers that participate in PACTS carry millions of riders each year, including 2.7 million along bus routes – a 59 percent increase since 2005, according to PACTS.

William Hall can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @hallwilliam4.