Passenger Voice November 2015: A day in the life of a passenger survey researcher

30 October 2015

The life of a researcher working on behalf of Transport Focus can include many surprises and take you to many places you’ve never seen before. Here’s some idea of just what a typical day is like when the National Rail Passenger Survey (NRPS) and Bus Passenger Survey (BPS) are running.

On a working day, I may get up as early as 4am. Shift can start at 6am and end as late as 10pm. A typical NRPS shift is almost always three hours long and there can be two or three in a day with travel time in between.

For NRPS we usually approach passengers at train station platforms or concourses while they are waiting to board their train. I introduce myself, explain the reason why I’m there and then offer them a chance to take part in the survey. Passengers can take part either using a paper questionnaire which I hand to them or via the internet on their computer, tablet or smartphone. Sometimes an NRPS shift can also be on the train.

I’ve had people say to me ‘How can you do this job; it must be so difficult?!’ But like most things you get better with more experience and on the whole it’s a great set of projects to be involved in, knowing that the survey genuinely makes a difference. It’s not a job where you get lots of glory but you do help to make the world a little better, as far as passengers are concerned.

I enjoy meeting various types of passengers and always offer the opportunity of taking part in NRPS or BPS to as many people as possible. I just love it when mum, dad or grandparent inevitably gets both my survey questions plus a second set of questions from their toddler along the lines of ‘What was that man asking about?’, this usually helps the take up! It’s important that the surveys cover a variety of passengers so I’ll always try to include blind or deaf passengers or those with wheelchairs where possible.

The timing of the surveys isn’t something which train or bus companies get to decide. I work on trains at all times, capturing commuters as well as leisure and business travellers. By speaking to passengers at different times Transport Focus can build up a national picture of passenger satisfaction.

Paul Murphy


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