Metro Transit’s Journey With Kipsu

How Minnesota is keeping transit riders safe with digital messaging



January 7, 2019

The Metro Transit team currently utilizes Kipsu in their Transit Control Center for safety purposes. When you see a sign that says “See Something? Say Something” the number to text is powered by Kipsu. The team is now piloting an expansion to bring Kipsu to the Transit Information Center. This means Metro Transit customers can text in for trip planning inquiries and questions about how to ride.

Metro Transit + Kipsu

Centrally located in Minneapolis, the Metro Transit team first launched Kipsu about one year ago. Initially, they worked with a Kipsu team member to discuss their ideas for communicating with their customers through a channel that felt comfortable for both sides of the conversation. Metro Transit wanted their riders to be able to report barriers to safety, such as hazards on public transportation and harassment cases. In order to best serve their customers, they found texting as a great way to capture these instances because it is quick and simple for the rider. They can also notify Metro Transit without making a phone call. This aspect is particularly helpful in cases of safety, when a phone call might not be the best way for a rider to report something happening. Metro Transit highlights their “Text for Safety” feature on signage along the transit routes, on their website, and within public transportation, leaving the texting number and explaining to use it “If you feel unsafe or see something suspicious or inappropriate on a bus, on a train or at a transit shelter.” In speaking with Ben Rajkowski, Assistant Manager of the Transit Information Center, he explained the number of cases reported has risen, not necessarily because more cases are actually happening, but because the riders feel more comfortable using the texting avenue for reporting.


Unexpected Benefits

At the beginning of their partnership with Kipsu, Metro Transit had many expected outcomes, such as quicker service, a higher number of safety cases reported, and a great new method of communicating with riders. However, there are also a number of outcomes that the team didn’t plan on.

For instance, when Ben was asked about the unexpected benefits of using Kipsu, one example came to his mind immediately. During Super Bowl 52, hosted in Minneapolis, Metro Transit had many ambassadors out to aid and direct traffic. In order to stay up to date with all of the rail closing and other traffic updates, the ambassadors were calling in to Metro Transit creating high traffic volume and blocking the phone lines. Some quick thinking on the Metro Transit team’s part, paired with Kipsu’s ability to send out mass text updates, made for the perfect combination. The team in the call center was able to send out texts to all of the ambassadors with updates through Kipsu, getting the information out quickly and ensuring everyone was on the same page throughout the busy day.

“It is the whole reason we are here, interacting and understanding the customer experience all the way through their journey... so that was our perspective and that aligned really well with what Kipsu has brought to the table. ”

- Ben Rajkowski

Metro Transit + Kipsu Look Towards the Future

Metro Transit has an extensive call center, but the number of customers calling in is declining. In order to maintain a solid line of communication, Metro Transit hopes the transition to texting better captures feedback and assists their customers in an accessible channel. They hope to expand to other messaging channels after their SMS texting pilot with the Metro Transit Rider’s Club. The purpose is to reduce the obstacles the customers face in getting the most information possible. While there are many forms of obtaining the information, such as “Show My Bus” and postings within the transit shelters, adding texting would simplify the process and allow for quick, seamless interactions without losing touch points with their riders. While calling also checks some of those boxes, Metro Transit wants to be able to meet customers where they are and communicate in their most desired fashion. They have found that their call numbers have been decreasing with emerging technologies like text messaging as a way to obtain information.

During their exploratory phase of the pilot, Metro Transit looked into chatbots for their texting service. However, in the end, they decided it was not the right direction for them. When customers cite calling instead of looking something up on their website, the reason for doing so is for the extra layer of customer service and the personal touch. They are looking for real, personal, and detailed - all of which, a chatbot cannot provide to the extent that a real, personal, detailed human can. Metro Transit places a priority on connecting with riders and delivering signature service.

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