The Inherent Problems with Transit Marketing

There are many benefits of mass transit but riders avoid mass transit. How can transit agencies increase ridership through technology and marketing efforts?

The benefits of a reliable, safe, and efficient transit system are immediately clear. Whether in a small town or a large city, transit reduces congestion, provides affordable movement for various customers, and makes the roads safer. 

Research consistently touts the benefits of mass transit (buses, trains, ferries, and more), so why do many people avoid mass transit? How can a transit agency increase ridership? We’ll show you brand new technology that’s allowing transit authorities to see and control their website, procurement, route details, schedules, and so much more from one easy-to-access platform—all to reduce barriers to engagement and make transit accessible to all.

Where are the Riders?

People choose to avoid riding a bus or train for many reasons. For some, the convenience and status symbol of owning and operating their vehicle are too great. For others, the transit services could be more convenient. 

In a report, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) noted that only 8.0% of all transit passengers wait 21 minutes or more for service. For many, that’s too long to wait. Additionally, the rise of rideshare services such as Uber or Lyft have capitalized on the long wait times that plague some transit agencies. Finally, COVID-19 forced many to avoid sharing close spaces with strangers for fear of infection.


Too Much Friction, Not Enough Information

But, there’s another simple reason why many people avoid riding a bus or taking a train—they don’t know about it. Many are unaware of the transit services offered to them. The information riders need to know right now includes questions like: 

  • Where are the bus stops?
  • What are the current routes?
  • How much will this ride cost?
  • How long will it take for me to get where I am going?

For many agencies, this information is buried deep on an outdated website. Software and tools containing vital information can also be siloed among transit staff and are often geared towards operations, rather than the customer. Potential riders will not wait 21 minutes for transit service and will not hunt for 21 minutes on a clunky website either. eTransit is focused on rewriting that story. 

Potential riders will only become actual riders if they quickly find the information they need to use transit services. No matter how frequent the bus stops, how efficient the bus rapid transit is, or how well-designed the waiting areas are - if potential riders cannot quickly access the information they need on transit services, they are less likely to ride the bus or take the train. 

Marketing Your Transit Authority 

Now, at this point, someone who works for a transit agency making marketing decisions could quickly object that Uber has far more budget for marketing than they do. It’s impossible to compete with that kind of marketing power, right? Or is it? Transit agencies are often plagued with lower budgets that can cause frequent turnover. This turnover means institutional knowledge, such as how best to market to potential riders, frequently goes out the door. 

The good news is that these issues can be mitigated. S4’s eTransit is an all-in-one transit marketing platform that creates a centralized dashboard for website content, procurement, ridership information, data capture, and so much more. 

With an audience-first approach, our platform reduces the number of barriers between the audience and the information or functionality they are seeking. By reducing friction and creating a platform that houses all the data in a single system, both the customers and the transit agency operations benefit richly.

eTransit: Modern Marketing Tailored for Transit Authorities

In the digital age, transit agencies can benefit by capitalizing on the expertise of digital marketing agencies but they need a niche partner. Station Four pioneered the powerful eTransit  platform to help transit authorities engage their customers more deeply than ever before. It provides a single platform to ensure all information a potential transit rider may need is quickly accessible and that data is captured to make better decisions going forward. 

At its core, eTransit helps transit agencies overcome that first big hurdle and rapidly get relevant, critical information to those thinking of taking public transportation. 

A Closer Look at the Process

Breaking it down, eTransit provides a centralized data repository tailored to mass transit agencies. Because operations can silo information throughout an agency, it’s common for agencies to not capitalize on the power of data that they’re usually already paying for. 

eTransit helps mitigate the threat facing large organizations trying to extrapolate actionable intelligence from its data. Tracking data or audience engagement across platforms can be difficult in itself. Collecting that data and using it to its full potential can be impossible. eTransit solves this problem by focusing on data collection, housed in a single platform, with full visibility and ownership for transit agency staff. 

The Modern Transit Information Access Problem

There are three types of transit customers to consider as you formulate an engagement strategy: current, potential, and non-customers. 

  • Current: 97% of Americans now have a cell phone. That means everyone checks out a website for information today, even those who currently ride the bus. Current customers for authorities’ websites vary considerably. There are, of course, riders who need access to routes and schedules. But what about vendors looking for procurement information or potential talent interested in a new job? Taking into account the diversity of customers, a single platform provides a means for cohesive messaging across the organization. 
  • Potential: potential riders go to the website to help them decide whether taking the bus is better than driving their car, riding a bike, or calling for an Uber. If the website is clunky or down the search results, it may never be viewed. Our platform helps bring your transit website to the front page so potential customers can find the information quickly. 
  • Non-Customers: non-customers also view a transit’s outlets for many reasons. As with all, an outdated or clunky website quickly deters further engagement. A modern, accessible website helps build brand trust. Non-customers may be fans searching the internet for an easier way to get to the game; voila, they find your site. For vendors, better procurement accessibility means better bids for your agency—and ultimately better results—when otherwise they may not have bothered. 

The benefits are many when reaching demographics across segments exactly where they’re searching. Creating accessibility means a more seamless experience for visitors and transit authority staff.

Getting Started with Next-Gen Transit Marketing Tools

S4 created the incredibly robust technology inside eTransit to help authorities make public transportation accessible to everyone. That effort starts by ensuring every rider can find the information they need to decide when to ride the bus, take the train, or ride the ferry. It also extends to every transit agency staff member having the information they need in one centralized dashboard.  

Schedule a free consultation with Station Four to see how tools like our eTransit platform will move your transit agency into a more modern and accessible era. 

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