The Riverside Transit Agency’s $5 Promo Boosts Sluggish Ridership

Target Audience: Targeted Audience - New and existing passengers - Spanish-speaking customers - Media outlets - Members of the public - Board members and stake-holders

Strategy Objective:With a budget under $10,000, our shoestring campaign was designed to attract riders with a simple message "Ride for 30 Days for $5." Bottom line, we wanted to remind riders that they were only a $5 away from freedom to travel anywhere we go, anytime we operate. To increase usage of our mobile app, customers were required to download Token Transit to get the discounted pass. In order to spread the word to our customers, we relied heavily on social media advertising from October 1 through 31. In addition to the social media efforts, RTA posted hundreds of flyers inside buses, posted signs at our bus stops, promoted the reduced fares on our website, publications, rider alerts, and at large shelter posters across our service area.

Situation Challenge: Public transit took a major hit during the pandemic when businesses shuttered, students stayed home and public safety awareness reached new levels. RTA was no exception. During the pandemic, ridership dropped to historic lows with our buses carrying just 30 percent of our normal passenger loads. During the fall of 2021, with signs of the pandemic thawing due to vaccination administration, RTA knew it was time to recoup some of that lost ridership. That's when we developed a promotion that offered customers 30-Day passes for just $5. This was a major discount considering our general 30-Day passes are $60 and the cost of a 30-Day pass for our express buses is as high as $95.

Results Impact: The primary goal of the campaign was to increase ridership among the general public, bringing back regular riders and introducing new customers to the benefits of riding the bus. We also have a mobile ticketing app, Token Transit, that we wanted to connect with the campaign to boost its usage. We are pleased to announce that our efforts were successful as we saw a 146 percent increase in pass sales, more usage of the Token Transit app, and a 19 percent gain in overall ridership during the campaign.

Why Submit: The ultimate success of this shoestring campaign was whether or not we boosted ridership. When the campaign ended, we were pleased with the results. During August, the month before we began teasing our promotion for the discounted passes, our ridership was around 295,000 boardings. When October ended, our ridership had skyrocketed to 350,600 boardings, a 19 percent increase. RTA was thrilled to provide a great way for a new generation of customers to find a safe and affordable way to get around town. More than anything before, the $5 passes ignited customers' interest in riding the bus and, with any luck, made them long-term customers in the wake of the pandemic.