Love Your Bus Stop: A New Approach to Public Outreach

October 23rd, 2013

If someone gave you money to fix up Metrobus stops in our region, what would you spend it on? Metro is trying new ways to get customers involved in answering that very question. 

Love Your Bus Stop campaign logo

Love Your Bus Stop campaign logo

Metro recently launched the ‘Love Your Bus Stop’ Campaign, and is encouraging customers to express their preferences and desires on how bus stops can be improved through a Bus Stop Improvement Survey. The results of the survey, which asks existing and potential riders to rank a variety of bus stop amenities, will help Metro better understand the public’s preferences for bus stop features and allow them to prioritize future investments in bus stop improvements. The Federal Transit Administration’s Livable Communities Initiative awarded Metro nearly $2 million for this project shortly after Metro completed an extensive inventory of the system’s bus stops. This funding source will be the first to be deployed using this new dataset of public preferences, and future funding will be able to draw upon the data as well to create improvements that the public wants to see most.

The Bus Stop Improvement Survey and associated outreach campaign are designed to be accessible to all Metrobus riders with a particular focus on reaching minority, low-income, and Limited English Proficiency populations. The Love Your Bus Stop Campaign is designed to reach these communities through three distinct strategies:

  • Event-based outreach;
  • Print, radio and digital media strategy; and
  • Targeted outreach to community-based organizations.

To determine where the outreach effort would be best targeted, Metro identified geographic areas based on overlaying on-board survey information including: ridership demographics, local area population demographics, and ridership numbers (see map).

Map of Data-Driven Identification of Potential Locations for “Love Your Bus Stop” Outreach Events

Data-Driven Identification of Potential Locations for “Love Your Bus Stop” Outreach Events (click for larger version)

Metro then identified 11 locations where transit riders from those target areas use buses heavily and scheduled pop-up events at those sites where large numbers of Metrobus riders gather at the beginning and end of their trips.

A card to be placed in buses that shows a man choosing between three potential bus stop improvements

Ads will be placed inside buses throughout the system

Metro’s street team will administer the Bus Stop Improvement survey at the 11 “pop-up” events using hand-held tablet computers. The survey is available in six languages and translators will be at events with large non-native English-speaking populations. These events will attract potential survey participants by going where riders are located instead of asking them to come to a specific meeting location. Metro is also attracting participants at these events through giveaway prizes, an interactive and fun bus stop themed activity, and by handing out informational materials at each event. At the first pop up event, the Prince George’s County Hispanic Festival on September 15, the Metro Street Team reached over 200 survey participants.

Metro Street Team administers survey to attendees at the Prince George's County Hispanic Festival

First Outreach Event, Hispanic Festival, Prince George’s County

Riders throughout the region who would like to participate in the effort and cannot attend one of the pop-up events are being encouraged to go online and take the survey through printed advertisements on buses, radio announcements, Metro’s website, Metro’s Facebook page, and the @metrobusinfo Twitter feed (using the hashtag #loveyourbusstop). Riders are also encouraged to continue the conversation about bus stop improvements by engaging with Metro directly through Facebook and Twitter. Metro is also reaching out to community based organizations and partner agencies asking them to contact and inform their clients about the survey.

At the close of the Love Your Bus Stop Campaign, Metro will compile the results of the surveys and recommend an improvement program based upon customer specified preferences. They will also have tested and tracked a new approach to engaging the public, which will inform future public outreach efforts.

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