MTS Transit Accessibility Study

In our study at SDSU, we surveyed rider’s on perceptions of Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle (WAV) services provided by the San Diego MTS.

Impact of Our Research

Our research aimed to assess the usage and perceptions of Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle (WAV) taxicab services provided by the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS). Although the study had limitations due to a relatively small sample size, it kick-started future research in this area. The survey illuminated low awareness of MTS’s Taxicab WAV services and highlighted potential areas for program improvement, setting the stage for ongoing efforts to enhance accessible transportation for individuals with disabilities in San Diego.

Research Design Problem and Our Approach

In our initial methodology planning, we considered survey panel sampling. While recognizing the advantages, such as cost-effectiveness and quick data collection, we also acknowledged the method’s disadvantages. Panel sampling’s non-representative nature, challenges in selecting panel members, potential for duplicate responses, anonymity breaches, and survey fatigue raised concerns. Insights from Dr. Pickett’s talk underscored the impact of survey delivery mode on response patterns.

We discussed the potential for using panel sampling in our project, particularly for the pilot study. However, based on the lack of generalizability associated with panel sampling, it was concluded that this method should be used only for the pilot study to refine the survey instrument. This approach ensures more representative and robust results for the main project.

Our Research Process

Our research process involved the creation and administration of an online survey using Qualtrics. We encountered challenges in survey design, emphasizing the importance of clarity and neutrality in question construction. Through collaborative efforts, we gained insights into the intricacies of survey design.

Importance to San Diego MTS:

  • Enhances services by understanding user needs.
  • Efficient resource allocation.
  • Ensures regulatory compliance.
  • Optimizes outreach strategies.

Importance to Disabled Riders:

  • Improves mobility, independence, and quality of life.
  • Drives service enhancements.
  • Provides equal access to work, education, healthcare, and leisure.
  • Empowers riders to voice concerns and create positive changes.

In summary, this research empowers both San Diego MTS and disabled riders to create an inclusive and responsive transportation system, benefiting all parties.

Artifacts Produced Along the Way

  • Developed a survey instrument and conducted data collection
  • Crafted a literature review of past research to inform our study methodology and questions
  • Compiled a demographic report from the survey data in December 2021
  • Developed a final report of our findings with future recommendations

Results & Conclusions

The results of the survey up to now are quite interesting even with a small sample size, especially in terms of how people use different forms of transportation for different activities.

  • Despite our best efforts to target people with disabilities, only 33.3% of respondents identified as a person with a disability.
  • 16.7% stated that they use a wheelchair and WAV.
  • However, 20.8% of respondents own or lease a WAV, suggesting that some respondents may have family that is disabled but are not themselves wheelchair users.
  • A shockingly low 4.2 % of respondents (only one person) was aware of the Taxicab WAV services offered by MTS in San Diego.
  • There were varying numbers of respondents dissatisfied with transportation to and from places of education (12.5%), work (20.8%), grocery shopping (25%), entertainment (35%), non-emergency medical services (20.8%), to the airport or train station (25%), and to other places (4.2%).
  • Findings show that the Taxicab WAV services could benefit from a number of changes, as no respondent believed any change could be detrimental to passengers and potential passengers.

Key Learnings

The research project provided us with insights into statistical software, survey design, and data-driven insights into accessible transportation. We learned the importance of clear and unbiased survey questions, the potential for low awareness of accessibility programs, and the significance of response mode in survey research.

My Teamwork Experience and Lessons Learned

Working within a team, I actively contributed to the refinement of survey questions and played a specific role in compiling the demographic report. This experience highlighted the challenges and intricacies of survey design and data analysis. Moreover, I learned that panel sampling can be suitable for pilot studies but should be avoided for the main project to ensure representative results.

Through my research team experience, I discovered the transformative power of overcoming initial communication barriers within our diverse group. This process reinforced the value of patience and active listening, not only in our team dynamics but also in our ability to provide meaningful assistance to the San Diego MTS.


Our research project, despite its limitations, has initiated a journey toward improving Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle (WAV) taxicab services in San Diego. It identified areas for program enhancement and low awareness among respondents. The research process provided us with valuable insights, and the findings laid the foundation for future, more comprehensive studies and efforts to enhance accessible transportation for individuals with disabilities.

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