For a Summer Holiday?

In the past few years there has been a growing interest in how well bus services are working and how they can be improved so that usage of public transport can be encouraged and increased.

It is, of course, a marketing problem. How can you keep existing users and at the same time attract new ones. The client had designed a promotional campaign but needed to know how effective it might be in attracting new customers

Research, as is so often the case, can play a big part in helping to answer these questions and we carried out a classic pre and post street survey interviewing programme to help in the planning of the promotional activity.

The pre stage was used to identify what promotional material local residents had seen, where they would expect to see promotional messages about bus services and of course gaining an insight into current bus usage.

Interviewing bus users in a street survey is generally straightforward, you wait at a bus stop and usually 4 or 5 come along at once!

The real challenge for our interviewers was to meet the quota of non-bus users. They are not easily identifiable of course, so the interviewers used their initiative and lurked near car parks and other ‘non-bus’ areas in town centres.

For the post stage, carried out 3 months later, we had to match the sample – users; age; gender; – we achieved for the pre-stage.  It was essential that none of the participants from the pre stage were interviewed for the post stage, so previous participation was ‘screened out’ by the interviewers.

It was, of course, essential to carry out the interviews at a range of times during both weekdays and weekends to make sure commuters, shoppers and leisure users, perhaps even those going on a Summer Holiday – were all interviewed.

The information gathered has allowed the client to plan their promotional activity, plan future bus services but most of all gather a huge body of information and data about how people use and would use buses – and of course how they can get their Ticket to Ride. (The research wasn’t carried out on the Isle of Wight, otherwise it could have been Ticket to Rhyde, but we do know that the wheels on the bus do go round – and round!)