Transport Self-help kit: Providing transport services to your community

Consultation methods

You’ve worked out what you want to find out from people.  But how do you gather that information?  You may consider using a questionnaire, which can be designed to collect the relevant information.  Here are some of the things to consider when organising a questionnaire survey:

Questionnaire, delivered to every household

Allows a wide range of people to contribute their thoughts.

Collects an indication of transport needs from across the whole community.

Information can be collected from a large number of people in a relatively short space of time.

Allows individuals who have difficulty getting out and about to participate.

Delivering paper questionnaires through existing delivery networks, such as parish newsletters is often the most cost effective.  Other options include through the local newspaper, but they do not always have 100% coverage, or via the Royal Mail. Both of these will cost money.

Questionnaire, other delivery methods

Different people prefer to access information in different ways.

Consider electronic distribution, either downloadable from your parish website or circulated by email.

Distributing and collecting a survey by email, if you have email distribution lists available, can be a cheap and quick distribution method.

Alternatively, you can use online survey software and questionnaire tools such as SurveyMonkey.  This allows individuals to complete your questionnaire online, and collects the responses for you.

Questionnaire face to face or over the telephone

If you can identify individuals who will find completing a questionnaire on their own difficult, volunteers can be used to assist either face to face or over the telephone to increase the response rate from these people.

How to encourage responses

Set up a collection box in the village shop or other accessible public place

Organise a door to door collection using volunteers

Buy a Freepost address

Enter each survey respondent into a prize draw

You may choose to use some alternative consultation methods to follow up questionnaire results.  If questionnaire results indicate that a certain group of people have specific transport needs focus groups or individual interviews may help to establish more detailed service requirements.  Here are some examples:

Special meetings

Allows a wide group of people, or a targeted group with specific needs, to hear the issues all at once and discuss them.

It may be that visiting a youth group or luncheon club and asking individuals about their transport usage and transport needs will make your consultation more reflective of the whole community.

Drop in events

These give more flexibility.

Gives participants someone to talk to about their issues.

Suggestion boxes (email or physical)

Allows people to continue to provide information after any official consultation period is over.  This allows you to monitor changing needs over time.

Individual interviews

Can be used to target specific community groups, especially where questionnaire responses are, or are expected to be, poor.

Many Parish Councils consult their residents as part of the development of a Parish Plan. It could be advantageous to include transport related questions within this consultation.

There is a wealth of on-line experience from many organisations covering effective consultation (see web links below).  A lot of the websites about consultation are not necessarily covering transport issues, but the techniques used can often be applied.  It is worth examining some of these to see if you can adopt a particular idea.

Documents and web links

Consulting children: