With new technology-enabled service models and increased strain on our infrastructure, it is becoming increasingly more important to evaluate transportation project and service impacts for more than just cost-benefit. Identifying metrics for measuring the quality of travel experience, the well-being of travelers and their travel behavior will help measure the competitiveness of modes.
Measuring the impact of our commutes
Studies show that even longer commute times do not impact “transportation happiness” as much as the mode choice itself. Research by McGill University on commuter satisfaction across modes – a survey of over 3,300 commuters who use walking, bicycle, automobile, bus, metro and commuter train in Montreal - found that pedestrians, train commuters and cyclists are significantly more satisfied than drivers, subway and bus users. Travel time matters less to walkers, bikers and bus riders than it did for commuters by other modes (St. Louis, et. al.).
quality of service
Customer experience focuses on having a "deep understanding of users, what they need, what they value, their ability, and also their limitations" (Usability.gov) while also accounting for the goals and priorities of the managing organization. Angelenos want services that are useful, usable, desirable, findable, accessible, and credible.
A positive user experience will shape the quality of a customer's interaction and perception of a service. With a new market of emerging private mobility services competing with public transit options, local government must think about the user experience across all modes: treating customers with hospitality and offering a quality experience will be key to the long-term viability of public transit investments.
Technology evolves rapidly while investments in infrastructure may endure for fifty- to one-hundred years, defining urban form and development for generations. These cycles present a challenge for transportation planners and engineers who are charged with designing and maintaining the public realm.
It is essential to consider how this infrastructure might more readily and efficiently adapt over time to incorporate new modes (and transportation technologies). We must start from the perspective of the users which requires new data-driven approaches to the planning and design process, as well as ongoing project and service evaluation to ensure there is a feedback loop to guide improvement.