Our main goal this week was to collect surveys, we focused on two main locations: Palo Alto Transit Center and San Jose Diridon transit center. Because our surveys were printed and the answers were pretty quick and easy to collect, we decided to go surveying on our own instead of pairs. That enabled us to go surveying whenever we had free time in our personal weekly schedule.
Surveying was a great experience and I think all of us got some funny stories about the people they surveyed. It was nice to go out and talk to people, and hear their stories as well as their various ideas. Some people were really curious about what we were doing and all of them agreed that public transit could be better! Overall I think we all enjoyed this experience.
What We Observed and Learned about Surveying
We ran into some different difficulties: some people didn’t have the time or were not willing to answer a survey:” I am not the kind of guy that answers questions, find someone else…” but most of people are happy to help and take 5 minutes of their time.
The other concern we had at the two locations was where to survey. In Palo Alto for instance, the bus arrive and leave pretty frequently so you have to check schedules to survey people and there are not that many people waiting. But at the Caltrain station during rush hour, you can meet people working at Stanford (that are subsidized and do not represent the classic population we want to survey) or wealthy individuals, who are not part of the population we are targeting.
At San Jose, we were targeting people taking the 522/22 buses but the stops for these lines were not in the middle of the transit center so there were not that many people waiting so surveying at the transit center was better. Like in Palo Alto and the presence of the Marguerite, SJSU free buses skewed the answers to some of our questions. We kept contact with our community partners to explain the different issues we were having and to understand the best ways to tackle them.
Finally, it’s hard to know when the best time to survey is: there are a lot of people during rush hours but service is more frequent so you don’t have enough time to survey people and you get incomplete data. When you are not in rush hours, in San Jose for example, you don’t meet a lot of people and you are more likely to meet people that don’t often commute or don’t live in the area. Still, we were able to complete about 35 surveys this week and are planning to make a big push to meet our goal of 50 soon.
Another big thing that we had to deal with was that, although we had a Spanish version of our survey, we still wanted to interact with the person we were surveying and for those of us who don’t speak Spanish perfectly, it was quite a challenge. Moreover, some people we surveyed in Spanish could not understand certain questions or did not want to answer some of them (and when you cannot communicate, you cannot fix the problem). We especially had a lot of blanks left on the online surveys for our question on annual income, even though our survey was anonymous and we clearly indicated it in the survey. This is a huge concern because our goal is to show that low income people would benefit from measures to improve transfers. Not having this data could really affect our findings and our ability to make the point we are trying to make.
We already had some online surveys answers: thanks to the organizations we are working with on campus (such as Habla) and to our community partners that were incredibly active this week. We will also get some surveys back from Charisse that we have to fill into our google forms so that we can analyze them.
One other thing we did this week was to decide that we will create our website with weebly as suggested by Deland. Weebly is easy to use and the different examples we were able to find matched perfectly with what we want to do. We trained on weebly by trying to add pages, menus, photos, just to have a sense of how the thing are working so that we will be ready to fully begin our website in the next week.
Moving forward, we are meeting on Sunday to begin the data analysis and have a first look at the different trends that we can detect in the data. We will then have a conference call with our community partners to discuss the data we have collected and discuss the data analysis further. Next week we will focus on data analysis and we will begin to work on both the website and the final presentation. We have to decide how we are going to show the different trends we will observe: plots, different tables, graphs and how to implement that in the website and the presentation. We also have to work out with our community partners how to make the best of the data we collected and how they could use it in the future for different projects.