Want to Work on Our Next National Survey? (RFP) - TransitCenter
May 25, 2017
Want to Work on Our Next National Survey? (RFP)

Would you like to work with TransitCenter on our next big national survey project?

Since 2013, TransitCenter has commissioned public opinion research to help illuminate what people value in public transit and how they use it—and help decision-makers understand how to create urban transportation systems that are more useful for more people. Our 2014 and 2016 Who’s On Board reports have been cited over eighty times by national, local, and industry media, and have helped shape policy and practice within both cities and transit agencies.

Today, we’re releasing a Request for Proposals for qualified public opinion research firms to help us develop a survey aimed at understanding two groups of transit riders:

  • People new to transit and those who use transit substantially more than they did in the past.
  • People who have stopped using transit and those who use it substantially less than in the past.

This is a complex project, and we’re looking for a firm that offers a true intellectual partnership, is willing to push back and debate our ideas, and has significant experience and connections within the transit world. If that’s you, take a look at our RFP and read our FAQ’s below: 

Transit Choices Study – Submitted Questions and Answers

Several questions were submitted during the designated question period in the RFP. These questions, and TransitCenter’s answers, are reproduced below.

The Phase 1 deliverables include a sampling plan, a questionnaire and an analysis plan, all in preparation for Phase 2. What level of detail are you looking for about the sampling and analysis plans for this Phase 1 proposal?

While we don’t expect a full sampling plan or analysis plan to be submitted as part of the proposal, it’s always beneficial to include enough detail that we can understand your analytical process. You could consider including:

  • Any conceptual thoughts, intuitions, or potential approaches you might take toward the sampling plan and analysis plan; and/or
  • Examples from other work that show how you iteratively develop a sampling and analysis plan. 

There is no mention of a Phase 2 budget in the RFP. What can you tell us about the Phase 2 budget?

TransitCenter’s opinion research projects have had budgets between (roughly) $50,000 and $200,000. The budget for Phase 2 will be informed by the results of Phase 1, and will likely fall within this range.

TransitCenter is interested in focusing only on public transportation in the United States, correct? 

Yes, we are interested solely in U.S. public transportation.

When you discuss changing behavior relative to the use of transit services, are you intending to limit such changes to only recent behavior?

Our intent is to focus the survey on recent changes in behavior, but we’d be willing to hear a strong argument for a different approach.

Of the five variables discussed in the RFP, at least two would appear to require focusing sampling on specific locations known to have altered service quality and/or education and incentive programs.  Do you have certain geographic foci in mind in this respect?

We intend to identify the geographic foci in consultation with the selected firm. We agree that some variables suggest the need to identify locations with changing service quality. These could include places like Washington, DC (worsening service), Houston (improved service though a worsening economy), Portland (strong incentive programs), and Seattle (improving service and strong incentive programs).

How many cities does TransitCenter consider to be a “meaningful” sample size?

In our 2016 survey, we sampled from 17 cities, but the majority of responses were from nine cities. A meaningful sample could draw from as few as 3-6 cities, if those samples were sufficiently large and the cities chosen in a way that reflected a range of transit environments.

Does TransitCenter want to focus mainly on already transit-dense cities like NY, SF, Chicago, and Boston?

No. TransitCenter works in cities that are diverse in size and transit quality. We have worked (and our grantees operate) in cities including Indianapolis, Raleigh, Nashville, Houston, Los Angeles, Oakland, Boston, Chicago, and New York. Ideally, survey findings would be drawn from and would be applicable to this diverse range of cities.

TransitCenter, does “transit” mean only government run and funded rail and bus systems?

When we speak about “public transportation,” we generally refer to publicly subsidized rail and bus systems (regardless of whether these are run by the public sector or contracted out to a private operator), and improving the performance of rail and bus systems is a primary goal of this work. That said, we recognize that public transportation increasingly includes a range of flexible and emerging mobility modes such as on-demand vanpools and TNCs.

Will TransitCenter offer language options for US and North American respondents who don’t speak English as a first language, who don’t speak English at home, with family?

We have yet to determine whether we will offer the survey in multiple languages. One of the goals of the survey is to adequately sample hard-to-reach populations such as immigrants.


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