NYCTRC learns about the use of intercept interviews for market research

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At the November NYCTRC meeting the members got to participate in a real market research exercise.  Guests Senior Director Jim Sears and Director Marc Mednick, NYCT Corporate Communications, explained how intercept interviews are an extremely cost effective way to find out what customers think.  To demonstrate, before coming to the meeting Council members were asked to try out the new interactive MTA On the Go! kiosks.  This is a pilot project providing a touch-screen travel tool for subway and railroad customers.  The rider can view real-time service status, get travel directions, scan MTA and neighborhood maps, locate major attractions and places of interest and find news, weather and local restaurant info and reviews.   The kiosks are located  in Penn Station, GCT, Bowling Green, Atlantic Ave., and Jackson Hts/Roosevelt Ave.

Sears passed out open-ended survey forms which are used for the first phase of the intercept interviews.  Normally, interviewers in the field would be stationed near the kiosk.  Often incentives, such as a round trip MetroCard, would be offered if the riders participate in answering the questions.  The Council members indicated some problems that they experienced when using the kiosks:

— There is some confusion between this machine and a ticket machine
— One must push hard on the typewriter buttons to get the letters to register
— On the Trip Planner, a push on “bus” repeatedly got “subway”
— Some people were observed using the kiosks looking to “surf the web”
— Some people were observed having trouble “scrolling” pages
— Could not access information about the next station that was accessible
— There is no sound component so use of the machine is not obvious
— The advertising is distracting
— Felt like people were watching and could see what was selected for a destination; could be a security issue

Suggestion from the members included:
— Provide a hand sanitizer at machines
— At locations like South Ferry the kiosk should have information on other transportation options
— The kiosk should feature local points of interest (although this is included in some key destinations)
— The kiosk should be located at intermodal centers and stations heavy with ADA use
— At GCT there should be stand alone kiosks near the information booth
— The kiosks should be at all area airports, the AirTrain terminal in Jamaica and on the Staten Island side of the Staten Island ferry

Riders should take the time to visit these pilot kiosks and send their feedback to www.mta.info.

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