As an advocate for smarter transportation, we’re interested in current best practices, upcoming technologies, and public education about what makes for effective transportation, whether public or private. We’re interested in all aspects of transportation: environmental impact, public safety, personal convenience, in-transit experience.
What consistently surprises us, however, is the benefit of marketing, advertising, and public outreach to rates of adoption to public transportation. At least when it works. Admittedly, some marketing campaigns are, shall we say, less effective than expected, while others are wildly successful. But what’s obvious in looking at campaigns to increase the use of public transportation is that without this creative marketing boost, there is a strong correlation to weak adoption rates. This applies to both regional transportation in upstate New York and across the country and globe for that matter.
A Tale of Two Cities
That said, when it comes to western, upstate New York, the conversation is dominated by two cities: Buffalo and Syracuse. And when it comes to public transportation, it’s very much a tale of two cities. Buffalo is known for having one of the best public transit systems in the country for mid-sized cities. Ranked highly for convenience, timeliness and accessibility, the city is pedestrian-friendly and has a robust bus and rail system.
Meanwhile, Syracuse is known for having one of the worst systems with only a modest bus system serving the city. We’re not trying to speak badly of Syracuse. Far from it. Consistently ranked as one of the top places to live with plenty of services and entertainment, despite being one of the most affordable places to live, Syracuse’s transportation infrastructure is, arguably, holding the city back. To its credit, the city is making incremental strides toward transportation improvements without sudden, steep tax and cost increases. Moreover, the emergence of Uber and other ride-sharing solutions has helped turn the city’s dependence on private-use vehicles into a public transportation resource.
Working with Creative Marketing and Design Firms
Most people fail to appreciate how ingrained our habits, preferences, and modes of transportation have become. Once we’re used to getting to work 10 minutes earlier in our own cars and our patterns of behavior are set, it can be difficult to make a change even when presented with a strong argument. Those extra minutes spent waiting for and riding the bus allows us to check our morning email, gather our thoughts, and send a loving message to family members. All before clocking in to the job or hitting someone with the car because you were distracted by your Bluetooth. It takes an innovative and concerted approach to break through this personal inertia and show people alternative modes of transportation can make more sense than their current habits.
But how do you find and choose a firm that can help diagnose and implement these types of public marketing campaigns? Well, for starters, you should know not all marketing firms cater just to private companies. In fact, there is a national association of agencies that offer transportation marketing and sales. Looking for a firm in upstate New York that has experience working with local municipalities? Take a look at this creative marketing firm based out of Poughkeepsie, New York.
Without a doubt, upgrades to the transportation system itself, especially those that improve access, travel time, and comfort make a big difference and may be a necessary condition for any measurable success. Nevertheless, we also encourage local governments and transportation agencies to not overlook the importance of creative marketing and design higher rates of adoption for existing and future public transportation systems.