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Marketing and Customer Communication in Rural Public Transportation
The synthesis will document the diversity of current
practices that rural transit organizations engage in through their marketing
and customer communication endeavors, documenting audiences, platforms,
approaches, considerations, and lessons learned.
The realm of modern marketing and customer
communication consists of an intricate array of print, television, radio, and phone
advertisements and communications, onboard and external signage and kiosks,
promotional items, in-person and virtual events, free and fee-based online
marketing, and more. Technologies and approaches are changing so rapidly that marketing
campaigns that were considered state-of-the-art five or ten years ago may seem obsolete
While a small amount of literature on this
topic was published largely in the 1980s-1990s, practice has evolved such that
these case studies and manuals serve no purpose other than historical interest.
Even since TCRP Synthesis 99: Uses of Social Media in Public Transportation
was published in 2012, marketing and communications platforms and approaches
have changed dramatically. Due to cost of hiring an external marketing agency, small
transit systems without a dedicated marketing team member might rely on someone
in-house without a marketing education or skills, which could lead to poor
marketing. Most rural transit agencies in the 2020s engage in a variety of
marketing and public communication activities, but there are no standards, national
guidelines, or programs on effective public communication in transit settings.
The synthesis will document current practices
by rural transit agencies including outreach to their communities through
marketing, advertising, and public communication.
The synthesis will document current practice
in print, online, television, radio, and phone advertisements and
communications, onboard and external signage, promotional items, in-person and
virtual events, and other forms of customer outreach as identified by this
Meeting customer needs and building ridership, which are the goals of effective marketing and public communication, are areas of practice that are common to all transit agencies and of general interest to public transit. The topic is timely and will result in higher-quality and lower-cost transit agency marketing and customer communication programs.
Brown, Lloyd. Web 2.0 Tools for Customer Communication: Strategies
and Practice at the Washington State Department of Transportation. TR News.
Cutler, Marc R. The Idaho Rural/Small
City Cooperative Transportation Marketing Demonstration Project: Final Report.
U.S. Dept. of Transportation, 1987. https://rosap.ntl.bts.gov/view/dot/492
Cutler, Mark R. Impact of Marketing in
Small Urban and Rural Transit Systems. Transportation Research Record. 1987.
1144: pp 78-86. http://onlinepubs.trb.org/Onlinepubs/trr/1987/1144/1144-010.pdf
Jones, Jordan, Sweeney, Matthew and
Joseph Hoereth. Recommendations to Enhance Quality Engagement. University of
Illinois at Chicago, Institute for Policy and Civic Engagement, University of
Illinois at Chicago, Urban Transportation Center, 2016.
Kihl, Mary. Marketing Rural Transit
among Senior Populations. Transportation Research Record 1338 (1992): 60-64. http://onlinepubs.trb.org/Onlinepubs/trr/1992/1338/1338-008.pdf
National Academies of Sciences,
Engineering, and Medicine. 2012. Uses of Social Media in Public Transportation.
Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/14666.
National Cooperative Highway Research
Program. Best Practices and Marketing to Increase Rural Transit Ridership and
National RTAP. Advertising Best
Practices: Bus Wraps and In-Kind Advertising. 2017. https://www.nationalrtap.org/News/Best-Practices-Spotlight/Archive-Advertising
National RTAP. Leveraging Social
Media: Spreading the Word and Enhancing Community Participation. 2018.
RTAP. Social Media Best Practices. 2018. https://www.nationalrtap.org/News/Best-Practices-Spotlight/Archive-Social-Media
RTAP and National Center for Mobility Management (NCMM). Advocating for Your
Transit System. 2021. http://nationalrtap.org/Resource-Library/Advanced-Search/?fid=122
Muller-Munk Associates. Transit Marketing in Pennsylvania: A Handbook of
Effective Transit Marketing Aids. Revised Edition. 1984.
Research Board. Marketing Rural Transit. Unpublished Report. 1980.
Mass Transportation Administration. Rural Transit Marketing: Survey Analyses and
Case Studies of Transit Marketing Programs and Information. Final Report. 1987.
synthesis will be conducted through a systematic approach:
comprehensive literature review will focus on research conducted to date on
marketing and customer communication in public transportation, focusing on
rural transit agencies.
survey of agencies will be developed, conducted, and analyzed.
interviews will be conducted with selected agencies for the development of case
gaps will be identified and suggestions for research to address those gaps will
|Sponsoring Committee:||AP055, Rural, Intercity Bus, and Specialized Transportation
|Research Period:||6 - 12 months|
|RNS Developer:||Cara Marcus|
|Source Info:||Relevant Organizations and Individuals|
 Tenley Borchman, Program Manager, California Association for Coordinated Transportation (CALACT)
 Julia Castillo, Executive Director, HIRTA Public Transit
 Cara Marcus, Resource Center Manager, National RTAP
 George Levitsky, CCTM, General Manager, Fairmont-Marion County Transit Authority (FMCTA)
 Danny Schnathorst, Mobility Outreach Coordinator, HIRTA Public Transit
|Index Terms:||Marketing, Rural transit, Traveler information and communication systems, Public information programs, Social media, |
Administration and Management
Data and Information Technology
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