Rider’s Survey

Harbor Transit Passenger Survey – 2013

Executive Summary


Click HERE to read the final report online or download it to read later.


During September 2013 Harbor Transit (HT) conducted a passenger survey.  Mp2planning was retained to assist with the survey.  This is the first survey that was conducted as part of an annual program to monitor customer satisfaction and improve service.  Three survey efforts were part of the overall survey:


  • A mailback survey send to a mailing list of 300 known users of the system;
  • An on-board survey distributed by drivers during the week of September 14; and,
  • Distribution of the survey to several institutional and assisted living facilities known to have regular users of the system.


Two-hundred and twenty one surveys were completed.  Given that the estimated number of people who use this system (about 350) the survey is considered to be statistically valid at the 95 percent confidence level with a 5 percent confidence interval (the margin for error).  The following comments reflect a summary of the survey results.  The surveys were formatted such that they could be filled out by the rider him or herself or for another passenger (such as a school child or a person with disabilities).  Of those, 71.8 percent were completed by the rider.


  • 79.9 percent of respondents reported using the service on a daily or weekly basis while about 11 percent reported using it occasionally.  It should be noted that HT provides transportation to school so this number would likely be different in the summer.
  • 70.9 percent of respondents said they had been riding longer than a year.  Given the type of system operated it may be significant that almost 30 percent have started using the system in the last year.
  • 62.6 percent of riders indicated they use HT because they don’t drive or don’t have a car.  When reviewing the responses to the “other” category, many indicated they were going home or to another location from school or that their parents were working until later in the afternoon.
  • When asked for their two primary destinations when using the bus the shopping response had the highest percentage of responses followed fairly equally be appointments, work, and medical.  Because there is probably some overlap between medical and appointments, it is likely that shopping and medical are the two most common destinations.
  • Respondents were asked to rate HT service in a variety of categories including driver helpfulness, bus comfort, being picked up on time, and overall level of service.  90.7 percent of respondents rated the overall level of service as being excellent or good.  The two individual categories that had the weakest ratings were being picked up on time and hours of operation.
  • Respondents were also asked to evaluate HT’s performance when they call in for a reservation.  89.4 percent of respondents reported excellent or good levels of overall satisfaction.  Speed in answering the call and the length of time it takes to make a reservation were the two areas where there were higher percentages of average to poor responses.
  • 81.3 percent of users reported using the multi-ride fare card to pay their fare while 27.3 percent said they use cash.  A number said they used both.
  • 81 percent said they had not used the HT website for information, with many reporting they were not aware of it or they did not have access to a computer or the internet.  One possibility would be putting large visible stickers somewhere on the buses (www.harbortransit.org).
  • HT’s age demographic based on the survey had respondents  reporting being under 16 (18.7%), 30-45 (13.8%) and 23.2 percent for the 46-60.  The largest group of respondents was in the over 60 category with 36 percent.  The smallest group was 17 to 29 with 8.4 percent.
  • Sixty-four percent of riders stated they (or the person they were reporting for) were female and all respondents reported English as being the primary language in the household.
  • 37.8 percent of those completing the survey reported household income of under $20,000 while 28.1 percent elected not to answer.
  • Fifty-one percent of respondents were from the City of Grand Haven, 14.5 percent from Grand Haven Charter Township, 8.5 percent from Ferrysburg, and 26 percent from the Village of Spring Lake.  A very small number wrote in they were from Nunica or Spring Lake Township and these were included in the tabulation for the Village of Spring Lake.


Riders were also asked if they had any other comments.  While these are listed in full in the main body of the report with the tables, longer service hours, better pick-up time, trying to keep from having kids on the bus for over an hour, etc. were common themes.  Many of the comments lauded HT’s service.


As part of the survey effort, the consultant spent a day riding HT buses and conducting intercept surveys with passengers.  Almost all passengers were cooperative with the exception of those who had already completed a survey.  The interaction between drivers and passengers seemed comfortable.  Passengers were generally familiar with how the system operates and there did not appear to be much frustration with the varying routes and deviations.