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Ghost bus-ters: the power of real-time rider feedback

What happens when you ask riders if there's something strange (or great) on their trip?

December 1, 2022

There are few things that bother transit riders more than getting ghosted… by their bus. And every hour, thousands of riders call out ghost buses in Transit using Rate-My-Ride, with their reports linked to specific stops, vehicles, and times of day. 

So earlier today, we took that data and hosted a webinar where Transit Data Scientist Marisa Henry put ghost buses on the map. The goal: help transit agencies shine some light on the problem of getting buses to show up when and where riders expect them.

Watch the webinar

About Rate-My-Ride

When users opt in to GO step-by-step navigation, the app determines when a rider is waiting at the stop, when they’ve boarded, and when they’ve disembarked. This data not only helps make their trip smoother, it also improves real-time data for other passengers and allows riders to share crowdsourced real-time crowding information.

Analysis of Rate-My-Ride responses in our hometown of Montreal helps illuminate where riders are getting passed up and where ghost buses are leaving riders stranded at the stop.

Rate-My-Ride is an ongoing intercept survey in the GO experience so riders can share feedback on specific elements of their ride, as they ride. Of users who see the prompt, more than three-quarters respond — yielding more than 3 million responses every month on everything from on-time expectations, to stop accessibility, to five-star ratings.

Transit agencies can get full reports on what their customers are saying, and can also ask their own custom questions to receive targeted feedback from riders. Agencies like UTA, VIA Metropolitan Transit, and Omnitrans are already asking riders about bus cleanliness, safety, and more.

And remember, when it comes to ghost buses, data drilldowns, or strange green slime onboard: you know who to call (and we’ll, uh, do our best with the slime).
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