During California’s stay-at-home period, Omnitrans provided over 71,000 safe trips – mostly to essential workers who continued to provide critical services during the COVID-19 public health emergency, according to Omnitrans customer survey data gathered in May.
As our community continues to navigate the COVID-19 public health crisis and its unprecedented challenges, Omnitrans solicited customer feedback and opinion related to its emergency response and the outlook ahead.
Fifty-six percent of survey respondents stated that they rode Omnitrans during this time to get to their essential workplace. Subsequently, 55% indicated that they remained employed through the pandemic, either full-time or part-time.
Additional findings revealed Omnitrans customers’ riding patterns during the pandemic, satisfaction with communications and safety measures, and level of comfort resuming public transit use. The survey also asked customers what additional safety measures they would like to see from Omnitrans, most of which have been implemented and are in place.
In March, Omnitrans applied its first safety measures as we continued operating to provide lifeline transit service to our community. Such measures included suspension of fare collection, rear-door boarding, and limited service as our community stayed home to curb spread of COVID-19.
Customers expressed mostly positive satisfaction with four elements of Omnitrans’ emergency response, with communication to the public ranking the highest at 62% positive. The Omnitrans website and social media were the most reliable channel of communication for speedy alerts and updates. Other elements, such as bus sanitation, operator face coverings and other protective equipment, as well as onboard social distancing efforts, also ranked over 50% positive.
During the pandemic, Omnitrans ridership saw a decline as people stayed home, worked remotely, and schools closed. Survey findings reflect a 30 percentage point decline in frequent use of Omnitrans (five or more days per week). Twenty-seven percent indicated they stopped riding Omnitrans altogether during this time.
However, customers show high confidence in returning to Omnitrans, with an overwhelming 90% stating that they are likely to return to Omnitrans, in phases, after the stay-at-home order. Fifty-four percent indicated they would resume riding as soon as stay-at-home orders were lifted, with others waiting one month before riding, waiting for schools to re-open, or for a coronavirus vaccine.
The survey asked customers what would make them feel safer riding Omnitrans, in addition to what was already in place, and the most common answers included:
- Hand-sanitizer dispensers aboard the buses, which were installed in June;
- Additional disinfecting of high-touch areas in buses throughout the day;
- Enforcement of face coverings to ride, which is required as of June 20;
- and continuing to limit capacity of passengers to 20 per vehicle to allow social distancing, which remains in effect.
The majority of respondents indicate that other passengers not abiding by or following the health and safety protocols while riding, is their top concern. This demonstrates confidence in our system and Omnitrans’ safety practices.
As we continue to navigate this unprecedented situation together, the safety and health of our people – staff and customers – will remain Omnitrans’ top priority. Findings from the survey provide valuable insight and reassurance to Omnitrans and will help guide our efforts as we continue to rebuild and welcome customers back to our new normal.
To see a slide deck of all survey findings, click here.