It is important for us that the findings of the survey truly reflect the public opinion

19 october 2016 | Gudok

Deputy Head of the Analytical Center Svetlana Ganeeva told a Gudok correspondent about a survey of commuter transport passengers and the first conclusions that the analysts are drawing 10 days after the survey started.

Svetlana Ganeeva
Svetlana Ganeeva
Deputy Head

Could you please tell us a bit more about this survey and how long it is going to go on for?

Our Analytical Center is currently working on a methodology that will allow us not only to simply study, say, the spending of passengers, regional or federal treasuries on commuter transportation but also assess how useful these services really are. After all, people do not go riding on commuter trains for fun; they each have their own goals and see certain benefits in it. Some use inner-city public transport to get to and from work every day and only use commuter trains on weekends to go to their summer houses or just get out of the city. Some do not use commuter trains at all. So we want to understand what is stopping them. Official statistics does not look at these nuances; in official statistics a hundred rides is a hundred rides and it does not matter if it was 100 passengers that rode on that particular route or if it was just one guy making 100 trips. But those sorts of distinctions are important for the kinds of effects we are trying to assess. And it is only the passengers themselves that we can get that kind of information from. So we have organized this survey to find out their opinion and get passenger feedback on why they ride commuter trains, how often they do that; plus there is a bunch of other questions we ask them in the survey to get additional information not found in official statistics.

And why is the Analytical Center focusing on the quality of service offered by road and rail commuter lines?

If we want to know how useful a certain mode of transportation is, we have to consider whether people have alternative means of getting to their destination. For example, in Moscow region, commuters that work in Moscow can take commuter trains or go by bus or minibus or they can drive in their own car. But in some regions, commuter trains are the only means of transportation available. And we appreciate the fact that the benefits of commuter train service are going to be drastically different. It is only when people can choose how they are going to travel that they can truly look at all the pros and cons of the service, its quality, its prices and speed. In addition, in early 2016 the Analytical Center conducted a pilot survey of Moscow and Moscow region residents that focused specifically on commuter trains. Passengers were asked whether they were satisfied with the service, what improvements they would like to see and whether they would be willing to pay for the improvements. Some important information was collected about fares. 29% of the respondents said the fares were a bit too high; 20% said the service quality did not match the fares charged, while 14% contended that the quality of service was so poor that it justified fare evasion. It was found that more automatic ticket machines were needed on the platforms as the survey found the vast majority of passengers bought single-ride tickets. Express commuter trains with better amenities sound like a promising idea as 86% of the respondents in the Moscow urban agglomeration said they would be willing to pay extra to take such trains. The survey was quite successful and we decided to expand the project to include all regions across the country and other modes of transportation.

What are the questions that passengers are invited to answer this time and how do they differ depending on the mode of transportation?

Well, to answer your first question, your readers can just point their web browsers to http://опрос-пассажиров.рф/ and they will be able to see and answer all the questions. As for different modes of transport, the questions are the same regardless of which mode of transportation passengers prefer. However, we can already tell at this stage that we are getting the largest amount of feedback from commuter train passengers.

Do you plan to carry out some provisional data analysis while the survey is still underway or are you going to wait until the survey is over to look at all the data?

What is important to us is that the results are representative, that they really reflect the public opinion. To achieve that, we need to get past a certain minimal threshold of respondents in each region and then we need to process the collected data in a certain way. First of all, we need to ensure we have got respondents from all age groups and all genders; otherwise, it will be no public opinion poll but a survey of young smart phone owners. So we will not be doing any provisional data analysis midway. We can however draw some conclusions already. For example, we can see that we are getting more feedback in the regions, people are more active there. Murmansk region is leading in terms of the percentage of residents taking part in the survey. The Republic of Komi is in second place, far ahead of the rest. In third place we have Arkhangelsk and Moscow regions. We can also see that commuter train passengers are writing more in-depth comments about the benefits they are getting from commuter transportation services. But these are just observations about how the survey is going and not some preliminary findings.

Will the findings be applied in practice?

Of course, the whole point is to help the Ministry for Transport. And we hope that in the future such surveys will become the norm in determining the socio-economic effectiveness of commuter passenger services and that this approach will be recommended for use across Russia.

Source: Gudok