Representative image
Representative image

‘Word of mouth on public transit system most reliable feedback’

To understand how commuters access and use public transit information systems, CAG said that 506 commuters across transit systems like suburban and MRTS trains, Metro and MTC buses were interviewed.

CHENNAI: A study conducted by the Citizen Consumer and Civic Action Group (CAG) on accessing public transport information in the city reveals that most rely on word-of-mouth from friends or family members and fellow commuters for their commute.

To understand how commuters access and use public transit information systems, CAG said that 506 commuters across transit systems like suburban and MRTS trains, Metro and MTC buses were interviewed.

“Less than a quarter of respondents (125) used the internet to find information on public transit and only 21 people (of 506) used a mobile-based application. While most used a smartphone, the familiarity or comfort level was directly proportional to education and inversely proportional to age. Commuters clearly articulated that while on familiar routes they do not need information, navigating new routes is tough, especially if taking a bus,” the study authored by Sumana Narayanan, senior researcher, CAG.

The study found that over 60% of respondents would not switch to private transport due to cost considerations. “Of the 143 people who said they’ve considered switching, 41 said they often think about it when faced with poor public transport. The 102 respondents actively considering private transport were largely in below-30 age category,” it said.

Irrespective of which mode of public transport one uses, a key feature of ensuring accessibility is ensuring commuters can readily find and use the information on the public transport, it said. “Discussions on public transport tend to focus on fleet strength, coverage of city, frequency, and fares, and not at passenger information systems. If it does look at information dissemination, then the focus is on ‘smart’ solutions without looking to understand the challenges commuters face,” it noted.

Pointing to the MTC’s shrinking fleet size, the report said: “The suburban and MRTS trains show similar signs of neglect in terms of stations and facilities while the frequency is much better. The Metro Rail network is slowly growing but the ridership is not impressive considering the projected figures when it was mooted.”

The study recommends public transit operators use multiple modes of communication (websites, apps, signboards, announcements) all in multiple languages, provide real-time information and updates, develop an integrated information system across all transit modes, put in place robust systems for regular feedback from commuters, etc.

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