RTA to spend more than $400,000 on customer survey

The Regional Transportation Authority will spend up to $435,000 to see how satisfied riders are with transit service.

RTA board directors approved the expense Thursday, hiring Vermont-based Resource Systems Group (RSG) for one year. The questionnaire will cover just Metra and CTA users as Pace is doing its own survey.

“You can never do enough of asking customers what they think of your service,” RTA Chief Financial Officer Grace Gallucci said when asked about the cost at a time when Metra is contemplating fare hikes to balance its budget.

“Private firms do these things very frequently and spend a lot of money to do them.”

The survey has been a long time in the making. The RTA started planning in 2009. In January, it hired RSG to come up with a methodology for the study, paying the company $83,000 through a Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning grant.

In the past, the CTA, Metra and Pace conducted independent surveys. It’s more efficient and informative to evaluate customer feelings on a regional basis, Gallucci said.

Riders will be asked a range of questions on topics including fares, cleanliness of buses, trains and stations, and on-time performance.

“This will help us focus funding in the right areas,” Gallucci said.

The surveys will go out in the fall. It should take RSG four months to analyze the data and write a report.

Pace’s survey will conform to the RTA methodology, officials said.