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A Handbook of Proven Marketing Strategies for Public Transit, TCRP Report 50

This report identifies proven low-cost and cost-effective marketing techniques and strategies appropriate for use in the transit industry.


This report identifies, describes, and assesses proven low-cost and cost-effective marketing techniques and strategies appropriate for use in the transit industry. This is a "how-to" handbook for selecting and implementing such techniques at transit agencies. The target audience is transit marketing professionals, public transit managers, and executives who have responsibilities for marketing transit systems.

Marketing plays a critical role in assisting transit agencies in attracting new riders, retaining existing ones, and ensuring support from the community at-large. To maximize its effectiveness, marketing must be viewed as a comprehensive process through which transit agencies develop and provide transit service and communicate the benefits to their employees, patrons, and the general public. Marketing techniques that are both low-cost and cost-effective are needed by transit agencies and may be crucial to their viability. Transit agencies currently use a variety of low-cost techniques. Thus, there is a need to identify, assess, and share the proven strategies so that they may be adopted throughout the transit industry.

Texas Transportation Institute, in association with the South West Transit Association and the Center for Transportation Education and Development at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, prepared the handbook for TCRP Project B-13. To achieve the project objective of identifying proven marketing strategies to implement at transit agencies, the researchers identified and described low-cost and cost-effective marketing techniques currently used at large, medium, and small, urban and rural transit agencies throughout the transit industry. The complete range of low-cost marketing activities includes traditional, broad marketing activities such as pricing, promotions, advertising, planning, and service delivery targeted at specific submarkets. Further, a method was developed to define the criteria that would be used to assess and select creative and promising marketing techniques. Selection of promising practices was made on the basis of cost, cost-effectiveness, ease of implementation, community support, and staff time required to implement the marketing program. A general overview of each strategy is provided. The overview includes a basic description of the strategies, the objective of its implementation, the resources necessary, the time required, the results of the project, any suggested adaptation or refinements, and when the project was implemented. The size of the transit agency implementing the project is indicated by fleet size.

Also provided in this handbook are summary materials on general principles of marketing public transit. Included are checklists and forms to make it easier for the public transit manager to incorporate solid principles of marketing and public relations.