St. Thomas Students Design Metro Transit Ridership Surveys


Carl Nelson


Marshall Curry, Maria E. Dahmus, Kelly Morrell


Metro Transit, St. Paul, MN
Community Size
733,098 (2018 Census Estimation)
University of St. Thomas
Sustainable Communities Partnership
Case Type
Project Stories
School Size
Greater than 5000
Focus Areas
Economic and Social Inclusion
EPA Region 5, USA

The decisions individuals make about transportation in college often serve as a foundation for future choices. Transportation habits formed early on may follow students into their post-grad lives, impacting their individual carbon-footprints and their city’s overall sustainability.

According to 2016 and 2018 survey data, 20% of all Metro Transit riders are college students and 23% are college-age individuals between eighteen and twenty-four years old (Who Rides?). Metro Transit seeks to increase student ridership through targeted products, such as the College Pass. Metro Transit partnered with University of St. Thomas’ Sustainable Communities Partnership (SCP) and David Harman’s Marketing Research course in the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business to examine how to increase College Pass sales among college students.

Applying their knowledge of consumer markets to a familiar cohort, students were uniquely equipped to deliver effective results. Students led focus groups on topics like transit safety and familiarity and conducted in-depth comparative research. Insights gathered during this preliminary research period informed students’ design of a survey. Harman’s class administered the survey to a sample of college students in the Twin Cities region.  Respondents answered questions on a range of topics including preferred modes of public transit, frequency and reasons for use, attitudes towards facilities, and sense of personal safety. 

The survey now serves as a tangible asset for Metro Transit, providing the organization with an initial strategy to inform College Pass sales, which can be built upon with future partnerships.

Read the full story of the partnership.

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