Current Valley Metro riders are certainly seeing changes in their usual travel. Not as many people are taking buses and light rail nowadays. Of course, this is due to COVID-19, the pandemic that's changed so much of what we'd consider normal just at the beginning of this year.
Our mission at Valley Metro is to connect communities and enhance lives, and that comes down to serving people. Now that people have lived with the effects of COVID-19 for months, we figured it'd be a good time to look at who's using our services and why.
To that end, we utilized WestGroup Research to conduct a study of current and former public transit riders. We received nearly 1,500 responses.
Just over half of those who participated in the survey say they live in Phoenix. Thirteen percent said they lived in Mesa, 11% said they lived in Tempe, and Glendale, Scottsdale and Chandler each claimed about 5%.
One of the big takeaways of the survey was just how much Valley Metro is relied upon by essential workers. Half of the survey respondents said they were considered an "essential worker." The biggest share of them, 26%, said they worked in government. Fifteen percent said they were essential workers in the transportation and logistics industry, while 14% said they worked in healthcare. More than 60% of the respondents in our survey said they were employed full time.
The vast majority of those surveyed, nearly 90%, said they commute by bus. Around 70% said they use light rail. More than half of our respondents said they use Valley Metro to get to work, but a similar amount said they also used Valley Metro to get to grocery stores.
When it comes to how COVID-19 has changed things, more than half of those participating in the survey said they're riding the same number of days as they were before the pandemic. About 35% said they were riding less frequently than before.
Of course, we're keenly interested in getting ridership back to normal levels, and we want to know what we can do to make people confident that we can get them to their destinations safely. Nearly 80% of survey respondents who are no longer taking public transit say they're looking forward to the day when they can resume their normal commutes with Valley Metro. Of them, three of the most requested requirements for doing so are making sure passengers wear face coverings, social distancing rules are followed, and enhanced cleaning procedures are taking place.
The good news is that all those things are already being acted upon. We're making sure to spread the word that face coverings are required on Valley Metro vehicles and property. Enhanced cleaning procedures are in place, and we have regular messages informing people about the importance of keeping their distance to stem the spread of COVID-19.
The coronavirus has affected a lot of things, as all of us know. The Phoenix Suns played the rest of their season in Orlando, Phoenix's vibrant nightlife has largely evaporated, and many of us are working from home. Even so, the buses are still rolling through the city streets, the light rail trains are rumbling down the tracks from Mesa to north Phoenix, and our paratransit and dial-a-ride services are likewise busy. As the survey shows, essential workers depend on Valley Metro to get to where they need to be. People need Valley Metro to pick up their groceries. We're here for them, and if you're not quite ready to ride on Valley Metro yet, we're here for you too, and we're working hard to earn your trust.