What to Expect from Our Onboard Ridership Survey – and How the Data Helps

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Friday, April 5, 2024

Survey taker wearing a blue vest and badge speaks with a Muni rider on the Powell Station platform for the onboard ridership survey.The next time you take Muni, you might see survey takers for our onboard ridership survey. We’ll share what to expect. 

Recently, you may have seen survey teams wearing blue vests and badges on Muni vehicles. From now through May, these survey teams are working to conduct an onboard survey to collect critical information from our riders.  Our goal is to collect 25,000 entries that represent all modes, routes and times of day on both weekday and weekend service.  

We’re excited to share why we’re doing this, how the process works and how we’ll use the data to improve our system.  

Why we’re surveying riders:  

Having an accurate picture of our ridership demographics helps us make a range of important decisions. We can use this data to improve our system and service. We can also use it to set fares and inform our multilingual communication methods.   

To make improvements, we need adequate funding. The ridership survey is helpful in this way, too. Conducting a demographic analysis of our ridership helps us stay eligible for federal funds from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). 

Survey takers wearing blue vests and badges smile as a group as they stand on a Muni Metro platform.Survey takers will always wear a blue vest and badge.

What to expect during our survey process: 

  • Survey teams always wear a badge and a blue vest (pictured above). 

  • They will not monitor participants as they answer questions. Participants will receive a tablet with multiple language options and will have privacy to complete the survey. 

  • They cannot accept requests to participate. The survey team uses technology to make sure the selection process for survey participants is not biased. This protects the integrity of the data. 

  • They will never ask to see your ID. This ridership survey includes a range of questions involving personal information. However, the survey team will never request to see ID. If you receive a request like this from anyone on a vehicle, please report it. You can call 311 or use our online Muni feedback form

The survey covers: 

  • Travel patterns: where and how people ride our system 

  • Transfer locations: where people go when they switch vehicles 

  • Customer demographics: how people identify, including race, primary language spoken, gender and household income 

The questions about household income and how you pay your fare are especially important. They help us provide accessible service for people of all income levels. Answers to all survey questions will be anonymous. 

If you are asked to take part in the survey, please do! It will only take 5-10 minutes of your time. 

How the data helps: 

The more we know about who’s riding Muni, the better we can serve you. We use information from the onboard ridership survey to: 

  • Understand the diverse experiences of Muni riders 

We want to ensure that we’re meeting the needs of all the communities that rely on Muni.  

  • Make our service more equitable 

We’re committed to making our service accessible and affordable for all our customers. Our Service Equity Strategy is a critical piece of that work. See our Muni Service Equity Strategy webpage (SFMTA.com/MuniEquity) for more information. 

  • Shape service planning efforts 

The more we know about your needs, the better our service plans will be. Your feedback will help us allocate limited resources. We'll use what we learn to make the best investments we can for riders. See our SFMTA Budget Planning - Fiscal Years 2023 & 2024 webpage for more information.

  •  Keep our riders informed and involved 

We want to keep you updated and make sure your voice is heard in our decision-making. That’s why we need to clearly understand our riders’ language access needs. 
A lot has changed in San Francisco since the pandemic. This survey will help us continue to support the needs of people who depend on transit and use our limited resources as effectively as possible.  

Have questions about the survey? Please reach us at: TellMuni@sfmta.com.