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Measuring the Effectiveness of a Transit Agency’s Social Media Engagement with Travelers

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Dilum Dissanayake, Dr Benn Coifman, Weijia Chen, Fazilatulaili Ali



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by National Academy of Sciences, 2018.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


This study investigated the uses of social media for travel planning on a transit system with particular attention to travel disruptions and delays. Due to 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 traveller information system, these on-line services have the potential to provide personalised information tailored to the individual or route they are travelling. Key to this personalisation is understanding the audience and their needs. This study sought to explore how, and at what level, transit riders utilise 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 prior to 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. The fact that 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.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Douglass J, Dissanayake D, Coifman B, Chen W, Ali F

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Transportation Research Record

Year: 2018

Volume: 2672

Issue: 50

Pages: 46-55

Print publication date: 01/12/2018

Online publication date: 18/09/2018

Acceptance date: 06/02/2018

Date deposited: 21/09/2018

ISSN (print): 0361-1981

ISSN (electronic): 2169-4052

Publisher: National Academy of Sciences


DOI: 10.1177/0361198118796712


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