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The Source for Public Transportation News and Analysis December 14, 2012
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Spreading the Word About Public Transportation
BY BARRINGTON M. SALMON, Special to Passenger Transport

Throughout the year, APTA’s Communications and Marketing Department held a range of events and activities and produced a variety of supporting materials showcasing the association’s position as a thought leader. The primary message was that public transit both creates jobs and takes people to their jobs.

Social Media Outreach
APTA continued to expand its social media presence to reach more and new audiences. For the first time, APTA held a “Travel Like a Local” contest, inviting Facebook users to share their city vacation plans. It also highlighted a travel survey that discussed the travel habits of summer visitors to U.S. cities.

Additionally, APTA engaged its users by conducting a Facebook survey asking what questions they would ask the presidential candidates and, in turn, they promoted the responses to the media.

APTA was very active on Twitter during Hurricane Sandy in late October, as the association helped disseminate information regarding the devastation caused by the storm.

In all, APTA engaged and attracted more than 132,000 Facebook fans and more than 6,400 Twitter followers in 2012.

This month APTA launched the “Public Transportation Blog,” which can be found by clicking the “Blog” icon on the APTA website,  or by clicking here. It provides yet another effective tool for APTA in its social media outreach efforts.

Preserved Dedicated Funding to Mass Transit Account
APTA conducted a number of successful communications efforts to support the industry’s advocacy efforts to preserve $25 billion in dedicated fuels tax revenues from the Mass Transit Account of the Highway Trust Fund.

The House Ways and Means Committee had voted to divert the funds from the account. In response, APTA arranged for a broad coalition of business and public transit leaders to join together on a conference call to encourage Congress to reject this proposal. Participants included representatives from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, APTA business members, and APTA leadership. In addition, general managers from many APTA member systems participated in a press outreach conference call, also appealing to Congress to reject the proposal.

The House ultimately voted to reject the proposal and restore dedicated funding for public transportation to the Highway Trust Fund.

Station Domination
APTA launched an aggressive advertising campaign spotlighting the benefits of public transportation as the March 31 deadline approached for Congress to pass a transportation authorization bill.

Through “station domination,” APTA placed advertisements on all available spaces in the Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority’s (WMATA) Union Station and Capitol South Metrorail stations, which serve the U.S. Capitol and House and Senate office buildings. Ads also ran on WMATA buses and inside its railcars.

Gas Price Volatility Study
APTA partnered with Building America’s Future to release a study predicting that record numbers of Americans would turn to public transportation as a cost-cutting measure in the face of volatile gas prices.

The analysis used historical trends and independent research data to make predictions on the impact gas prices would have on public transit ridership across the nation. It showed that, on average, public transportation systems would provide nearly 200 million additional trips during 2012 even as gas prices fluctuated by as much as 50 cents per gallon.

As a result, APTA successfully garnered stories in Politico, the Washington Post Wonk Blog, Dallas Morning News, Transportation Nation, Columbus Dispatch, DC Streetsblog, Huffington Post, EE Newswire, and others.

APTA-ARTBA Ad Campaign Honored
A television and radio ad campaign featuring former Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, supported by APTA and the American Road and Transportation Builders (ARTBA), received a 2012 Hermes Award from the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals. The ads focused on the importance of federal authorization for surface transportation projects.

The annual, international Hermes Awards competition recognizes outstanding creativity in the concept, writing, and design of traditional and emerging media. Judges selected winners from more than 4,700 applications from around the globe. The radio ad won the Gold Award in the category of “Audio Advocacy,” while the television ad earned Honorable Mention in the “TV Advocacy” category.

Member Survey
This year, APTA conducted its first comprehensive membership survey in five years. With an impressive response rate, APTA members reported a high level of engagement with the association and satisfaction with the its diverse programs and services.
Dump the Pump Day
APTA reported that its seventh annual National Dump the Pump Day, celebrated in June, was by far the largest in the history of the event, with more than 160 public transportation systems, state transit associations, environmental organizations, and businesses participating. Public transit agencies’ promotions and events focused on the economic, energy-saving, environmental, and other benefits that accrue from people choosing to take public transportation.

Celebrating Veterans
With a wide variety of events, APTA and its members celebrated, thanked, and saluted America’s military veterans during the APTA-sponsored Public Transportation Supports America’s Veterans Day. The purpose of the program was to increase awareness of the public transportation industry’s commitment to recruiting veterans to careers in the industry and connecting them, by public transit, to available services and resources.

High-Speed Rail Outreach
In support of the 8th World Congress on High-Speed Rail in Philadelphia, held in July 2012, APTA released a study titled Opportunity Cost of Inaction: High-Speed Rail and High-Performance Rail in the U.S., which was publicized at a Washington event attended by administration officials, congressional members and rail leaders.

APTA also released a poll showing that nearly two-thirds of Americans are interested in traveling by high-speed rail.

The Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP), managed by APTA, continued its outreach and dissemination efforts in 2012 by exhibiting at more than 50 venues, including the APTA Annual Meeting, state association conferences, the Community Transportation Association’s EXPO, the Council of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO), WTS, and the National Rule Assistance Transportation Program.

The 18 TCRP Ambassadors continue to serve as liaisons to the public transit industry by participating in events and visiting transportation providers to inform them of the wide array of solution-based research products available from TCRP. COMTO manages the TCRP Ambassador Program.

Lastly, TCRP’s Dissemination Program will launch a new website design in the new year.

Passenger Transport
Passenger Transport introduced two new and popular recurring columns in January 2012. One column profiles association members and the other introduces members of the APTA staff. A short video hosted on APTA’s website accompanies each profile.


The North County Transit District wrapped one of its Coaster commuter rail cars with a vinyl graphic that salutes the military.


Most Influential
APTA's stature as a thought leader was spotlighted when National Journal selected it as one of the 15 most influential brands in Washington. APTA shares this honor with such esteemed organizations as Apple and Google.


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