Measuring the effectiveness of a transit agency’s social media engagement with travelers

Joanne Douglass, Dilum Dissanayake*, Benjamin Coifman, Weijia Chen, Fazilatulaili Ali

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This study investigated the uses of social media for travel planning on a transit system with particular attention to travel disruptions and delays. As a result of very limited research in the effectiveness of social media in a transit setting, the best practices have yet to be established. Rather than having a one-size-fits all traveler information system, these online services have the potential to provide personalized information tailored to the individual or route they are traveling. Key to this personalization is understanding the audience and their needs. This study sought to explore how, and at what level, transit riders utilize real-time travel information from the social media sites maintained by the transit agency. An online questionnaire was used to collect data about the transit agency’s social media users, these data were evaluated using Principal Component Analysis (PCA) and cross-tabulation analysis. Perhaps not surprisingly, there is a significant relationship between respondents’ age and their travel purpose. Across age groups and across travel purposes the vast majority of respondents said they most commonly check the transit agency’s social media pages, “before journey,” to gather daily updates before starting their journeys. Thus, the social media sites already have the potential to influence the users’ travel plans before their journey, such as changing their route, travel mode, and/or departure time. On the other hand, this outcome indicates that an active engagement with social media is still missing from the viewpoint of customers. As there are so many users that visit the social media pages for trip planning there is an opportunity to reach these individuals and provide a much more dynamic engagement. While the focus is on a single transit agency, most of the results transcend the specific location or agency.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-55
Number of pages10
JournalTransportation Research Record
Issue number50
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research presented in this paper was made possible by a postgraduate studentship funded by NEXUS PTE. The authors would like to acknowledge the support received from DB Regio Tyne and Wear Limited, operator of the Tyne and Wear Metro at the time of the survey, for the publication of the online survey. Also, the authors would like to thank Mr Huw Lewis, Customer Services Director at NEXUS PTE, for sharing very valuable sources of information to be included in this paper. The authors are grateful to the four anonymous referees for their detailed constructive comments and suggestions that significantly improved the quality of the paper.

Publisher Copyright:
© National Academy of Sciences.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering


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