Listening sessions are a tool StarMetro uses to gain information from customers based on their needs and concerns, as well as meet them face-to-face.
“About 60 percent of our customers are students,” said Heather Teter, a StarMetro marketing specialist.
“Some of our best ideas for improvements come from our customers. Our main goal is to listen to what our customers have to say about the system so that we can make future route improvements. We also take this time to answer questions for new or prospective customers.”
Over the past year, StarMetro has implemented programs and route improvements. Some of these routes include the Forest Hill route, which is now available Monday through Saturday. The San Luis route has also experienced some changes, decreasing its headway from 50 to 35 minutes.
“I’ve seen a 50 percent improvement in the system,” said Rasheed Gaymon, a StarMetro coach operator. “Mainly, the improvements have been helping a lot of the students with getting to where they usually go to, like the mall. It is also working for a good majority of the working people that have to get to their jobs.”
The Next by Text program is also available to assist customers. Through this program, customers are able to text the StarStop ID number to 27299 to find the next bus arrival time. These StarStop ID numbers are located at every designated StarMetro stop.
“I use Next by Text every day,” said Tyia Branker, a junior psychology student. “It helps a lot because I never really know what time the bus comes and my plans are always changing.”
The transfer policy is also useful to students. Through the transfer policy, transfers are free with each one-way fare purchase within 90 minutes.
“I ride the bus to and from school every day, so their transfer program is really helpful,” said Jessica Simmons, a sophomore English student from Tampa. “It helps me cut back on my expenses.”
Other improvements made over the past year include the partnership with the city’s Public Works Department to increase the sidewalk coverage from its current 76 percent to 90 percent, as well as providing free umbrellas to customers on rainy days.
“Overall, the new route system is meeting or exceeding our performance expectations,” Teter said. “Specifically, ridership is up, on-time performance has improved and average travel time has reduced.”