Nashville, TN – The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) today announced the winners of its annual AdWheel Awards Ceremony at the APTA Annual Meeting in Nashville, TN. The awards recognize APTA member public transportation systems and business members for their outstanding marketing and communications efforts, which demonstrably benefit organization-wide strategic goals.

 “I am proud to congratulate the 2018 AdWheel Award winners for their exceptional campaigns to advance the public transportation industry,” said APTA President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas. “Communication and marketing efforts of APTA members help to enhance communities, promote the many benefits of public transit, and improve the lives of the riding and non-riding public.”

More than 300 entries were evaluated by nearly 100 industry experts and awards were presented in two categories: campaigns to increase ridership or sales, and educational campaigns. Honors were awarded in four groups, based on system size.

The eight Grand Award winners are Waco Transit System, Delaware Transit Corporation, TriMet, MCI, GoTriangle, KCATA, LA Metro, and Transit App. Details on the winners are listed below:

Campaigns to Increase Ridership or Sales

The Waco Transit System (WTS) in Texas created a campaign targeting residents of rural McLennan County, living outside the urbanized area and eligible for the agency’s fixed-route and demand-response services. Just three months after the launch of the “Anyone. Anywhere” campaign, WTS saw a 44 percent increase in rural ridership compared to the same time period a year prior.

The program grew so much in popularity that WTS was forced to hire additional rural transit drivers to meet the growing demand for service. WTS achieved this through the creation of a high-quality TV commercial and full-length PSA, both produced in music video format. The commercial aired on a local TV station, while the PSA was heavily promoted on social media and widely shared with local partners.

Delaware Transit Corporation developed its DART First State campaign to increase beach resort transit ridership. The plan featured public relations, social media, print, radio, lifeguard stand and movie theater ads, as well as hotel key cards, bar coasters and table tents. The “DART to” campaign highlighted the various destinations reached by the rebranded Beach Bus and new park-and-rides. With increased public awareness of DART’s Beach Bus service, 2017 saw an unprecedented ridership increase of more than 21 percent. As a result, fewer cars were contributing to congestion on beach area roads.

Oregon’s TriMet designed a campaign to introduce “Hop Fastpass,” the new, regional e-fare system that works on TriMet, Portland Streetcar and C-TRAN. As more public transit agencies look for ways to innovate their fare systems, TriMet is at the forefront with new NFC technology fare instruments.

To match that innovation, TriMet changed its marketing and outreach by going outside the normal marketing scope, by using both traditional media and social media channels; creating opportunities for riders to get free cards at “Hop-Ups” and community events; partnering with community-based organizations for card distribution; and introducing mascots to help spread the message. By adding elements of fun and surprise, TriMet built goodwill throughout the community and helped engage both old and new riders in the adoption of Hop Fastpass.

Motor Coach Industries sees a public transit future that includes commuters traveling further and working longer with greater mobility issues, which will require a new kind of coach. MCI’s new D 45 CRT LE features a mid-door low entry and adjoining vestibule with seating for five passengers, which speeds loading and unloading of all passengers, including those with mobility devices. MCI kept the new design under wraps until the blue-curtain reveal at APTA’s 2017 EXPO in Atlanta. A four-year undertaking, the secret project included working with BMW Designworks and volunteer members from the disability community in developing the coach.

Educational Campaigns

GoTriangle, Research Triangle Park, NC, welcomes an average of 65 new people to the Triangle region every day and the agency knows potential riders often are on the fence about public transit because they don’t know how to get started and aren’t certain of the benefits. The agency wrote and designed its “Ride the Bus” ad to help educate people in the community who have little or no experience with public transit.

Because it’s a fun music video rather than simply an instruction manual, the project appealed to more residents, reaching more than 50,000 people on Facebook alone. The video currently has more than 21,000 views, 200 reactions, 40 comments and 120 shares. GoTriangle hopes to continue using this video as an introduction to the brand and to the simplicity of a bus commute.

The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA), Kansas City, MO, partnered with The Kansas City, KS, Public Library to shine a light on public transit, libraries and literacy. KCATA brought the uplifting, positive message of the book Last Stop on Market Street back to the streets. The video comes from a highly prepared one-take shot that surprises an elementary school class with actors and the book’s author speaking to the joy of reading, the importance of community and the beauty inside every child and adult.

The 11-minute film has been screened at several film festivals and across Facebook and YouTube. The video has had 46,894 views, many by groups in classrooms or libraries, as well as more than 700 shares and numerous positive comments.

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro) realized that dealing with bad rider behavior is one reason people say they don’t use the system. With this campaign, LA Metro staff opted for a creative approach with original characters, “Rude Dude” and “Super Kind,” featured in fun, lighthearted music videos, outdoor ads and social media postings, to draw attention to the most pervasive etiquette problems on the system. Through this comprehensive campaign, Metro educates riders and empowers them to play a crucial role in creating a safe and pleasant rider experience.

The “Metro Manners” campaign videos have been viewed more than five million times across YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, including more than 1.5 million views by likely riders. Sentiment analysis has shown a universally positive response with more than 78 percent of social reaction characterized as “joyous,” encouraging an ongoing conversation about rider behavior.

Transit App reacted to the lack of a real-time transit data feed by developing a novel workaround: a crowdsourced transit tracker. Transit App decided to anonymously request real-time positions from their users’ devices and use that information to extrapolate vehicle positions, then calculate estimated departure times.

The company’s campaign generated citywide awareness and succeeded in creating the first real-time transit data feed in Montréal. User engagement tactics (via gamification features, push notifications and in-app banners) resulted in 325,000 crowdsourced trips in less than a year. On some lines, up to 20 percent of all trips are crowdsourced. This is especially important since real-time transit data has been proven to boost transit ridership. Transit App has expanded upon the Montréal crowdsourcing campaign in other cities, seeing record high engagement rates.

Click here to learn more and view the multimedia submissions for all entries.


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The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) is a nonprofit international association of 1,500 public and private sector organization which represent a $68 billion industry that directly employs 420,000 people and supports millions of private sector jobs. APTA members are engaged in the areas of bus, paratransit, light rail, commuter rail, subways, waterborne services, and intercity and high-speed passenger rail. This includes: transit systems; planning, design, construction, and finance firms; product and service providers; academic institutions; transit associations and state departments of transportation. APTA is the only association in North America that represents all modes of public transportation. APTA members serve the public interest by providing safe, efficient and economical transit services and products.




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