FTA Individualized Marketing Campaign Demonstration

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The Federal Transit Administration is undertaking a research demonstration program aimed at increasing public transit ridership with a minimal need for new capital investment, all the while, maintaining people’s mobility.

Called “Individualized Marketing”, the concept has proven successful in Europe and Australia, and has shown promising results in Portland, Oregon.

The FTA will be investing federal resources in a partnership with transit agencies in four competitively selected pilot communities in the U.S. The FTA’s pilot project centers around personalized, individual marketing of potential commuters who might consider using public transit, but need more information. Taking transit to the people has proven to be a unique method of boosting ridership without increased spending on infrastructure.

Utilizing a dialog-based technique for promoting the use of public transport, the program provides targeted, personalized, customized marketing tailored for individuals that are most likely to change their travel behavior.

The FTA will fund contractor support who will perform the Individualized Marketing Pilot in the four selected locations in close coordination and partnership with the transit agencies and local officials of the city/area.

The primary model for this project is the UITP (International Public Transportation Association) project conducted in Europe. The UITP project involved 45 transit agencies from over 15 countries. The “Switching to Public Transport” experiment was very successful in demonstrating that effective individualized marketing can significantly increase the level of ridership, bolstering the theory that a “new customer consciousness” has developed in which people view public transit more favorably and are leaning in the direction of considering transit as the single-auto congestion continues to worsen.

Pilot projects in both Europe and Australia have yielded a reduction in car usage in the area targeted for the project of around 10%, while large-scale individualized marketing efforts (35,000 population) yielded up to 14% reductions (results tracked after one and two years.) A 1999 independent cost-benefit analysis of the Perth, Australia demonstration project yielded a 1:13 return on investment.

The first U.S. pilot project in Portland, Oregon yielded a reduction in car travel of 8% in the area selected for the pilot, and an increase in travel by environmentally friendly modes in the same area of 27%. The one-year evaluation of the pilot’s success was begun in September 2003, and Portland officials have indicated that if the results hold firm, they will consider replicating the process throughout the city.

Now, the FTA is taking the project to four locations in the United States, teaming with local transit authorities and local governments that will be selected on a competitive basis to be part of this promising pilot. Each location will have unique characteristics to test the true potential of the individualized marketing concept.

CLICK HERE for a background piece that will help explain the concept as presented by International Expert Werner Broeg at the 27th Nottingham Transport Conference.

The deadline for submitting an application has passed (January 15, 2004), however, if you wish to place your organization on a list for notification of future events related to this pilot or send suggestions or comments, please contact our Project Coordinator, Douglas Birnie, at douglas.birnie@dot.gov.

RELATED PRESS RELEASE: FTA Selects Four Communities For Pilot Program To Boost Public Transportation Ridership

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