User Interviews and Data Analysis Highlight User-Perceived Accessibility and Mobility Benefits Resulting from the Launch of a Mobility App in Phoenix.
Valley Metro, serving the Phoenix, Arizona Area, provides the public with a mobile application to facilitate transit trip planning. As part of the Federal Transit Administration's (FTA) Mobility on Demand (MOD) Sandbox Program, the Valley Metro was awarded a grant to build an enhanced mobility platform that introduced new trip planning features and an integrated payment system for public and private transportation. The pilot app, called Pass2Go, was eventually discontinued due to integration issues with private rideshare companies. Nevertheless, an independent evaluation of Pass2Go was performed exploring its effect on user travel and planning times, accessibility, and connectivity to different transportation modes. The pilot evaluation was performed based on app activity data collected between March 2018 and November 2019, expert (stakeholder/project partner) interview data, as well as before and after surveys conducted over three waves, each lasting three months.
This study considered 12 distinct hypotheses to evaluate the pilot Mobility Platform program. The hypotheses ranged from user experiences (e.g., travel time reduction, underserved community usage of the app) to agency experiences (e.g., transit agencies are able to view and exchange travel information). A variety of data was utilized in this study, including commute activity data, stakeholder interviews, and a before and after survey. The expert interviews were conducted with people who were directly connected to the project team and had deep knowledge of it. This included representatives of the Phoenix, Valley Metro. The before and after survey received 332 responses.
- The survey results showed that 74 percent of respondents reported improved access to public transportation due to using the Pass2Go Pilot app, suggesting that the app led to greater connectivity of users on public transportation.
- Survey results showed that 29 percent of respondents reported that their travel times had decreased, 64 percent reported no change, and only four percent reported longer travel times.
- Survey results also indicated that 28 percent of respondents reported shorter perceived wait times, 66 percent reported no change, and only five percent reported longer wait times.
- The analysis of the survey results also revealed that 37 percent of respondents reported shorter perceived planning times and 54 percent reported no change.
- Three-fourths (75 percent) of 24 respondents using smartphone accessibility features rated the Pass2Go app 7 out of 10 or higher for compatibility. The 11 respondents with disabilities rated Valley Metro transit's usability an average of 8 out of 10. However, these results do not confirm an increase in service use by those with disabilities.
- The results from the survey also showed that 26 percent of respondents indicated that they had used on-demand, connecting transportation such as taxis or for hire vehicles more frequently to get to and from public transit as a result of using the Pass2Go app.
- Survey responses from 20 users who used both the previous mobile app and the Pass2Go app revealed that Pass2Go had statistically significant higher ratings for planning and real-time travel info. Specifically, 58 percent reported improved real-time information access and 55 percent reported enhanced trip planning.