This week we did our site visit to the Working Partnerships USA office in San Jose. Our primary goal in visiting the office was to better understand how our partner Charisse Lebron utilizes her team to help struggling demographic groups in the larger San Jose community. Our full team discussed our experiences testing the survey over the past week, providing final feedback to ready our survey for distribution to members of our full sample population. Charisse and Adina (from Friends of Caltrain) have organized plans for distributing surveys to SIREN, Watercourse Way Spa and Philz Coffee. They also highlighted specific transit routes and stations where they want us to conduct in-person interviews of transit users.
In our survey testing during the week we were able to iron out small inconsistencies between our Spanish and English survey versions. We also identified possible problems that may arise in our full interviews and how to best account for them. For example, we did a test pilot of interviewing transit riders over the weekend at the Palo Alto Transit Station and better understood the difficulties that arise when surveying people “in the wild”. These problems ranged from many people who were uninterested in participating to respondents who were unable to complete the survey after starting because their train or bus arrived. With this information, we are much better prepared to do conduct our surveying and interviewing on the full larger scale in the coming week.
What We Observed and Learned
In our experiences attempting to gather a sample population of Stanford service workers to test our survey, we learned that we need should have budgeted more time for coordinating with on campus groups. We were expecting to be able to find a time when workers weren’t doing much work and receive their consent to conduct in-person interviews. However, we quickly learned that we have to coordinate with Residential and Dining Enterprises communication staff and obtain their approval before interviewing workers.
Our fine tuning of the survey this week focused on how to best keep the respondent’s experience warm yet timely. We were able to finalize our spanish version of the survey and found that the flexibility of having it in two languages helped lead our bilingual respondents provide more nuanced, detailed responses since they can choose the survey that works best for them. We also began to engage in the struggle that comes when trying to focus on respondent comfort with asking possibly intrusive questions while still remaining as unbiased as possible.
We also learned a little bit more about how our partner organization, Working Partnerships USA, organizes its survey populations. We were able to meet with Sarait Martinez Ortega, the community organizer for the organization. She is responsible for connecting us to our community organizations and transit populations that we are expecting to survey.
This coming week will be when we collect the bulk of our survey data from our sample populations. We have plans to take another visit to San Jose to interview riders of various transit lines and modes in Santa Clara county. Charisse and Adina also mentioned how because of difficulties that arised when coordinating with so many different groups, our timeline and expectations of work may need to be adjusted to fit our short 10-week quarter time frame. They mentioned that since we may be unable to garner enough data to firmly develop a proposal for a fare integration scheme. If this happens, they would like us to provide an introductory summary of the data that we were able to collect and provide a direction for future researchers to embark when aiming to finish the work that we have started.
Ultimately, we understood from the beginning that our plans for this quarter may be ambitious and possibly unattainable because of factors outside of our control. With this in mind, we have been able to come up with plans for our research so that the work that we have done can be easily passed off and still be worthwhile for policy implementation in the future.