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Sustainable Transport
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TOPIC: What is the best way of marketing and promoting Public Transport in 2012?

What is the best way of marketing and promoting Public Transport in 2012? #1

Here in the Peak District, as one of the most visited National Parks in the world, we work constantly to encourage sustainable travel. We host and support a project called Peak Connections, which for the past 7 years has promoted travel by sustainable means, without a car through printed and web-based material, in partnership with local authorities and transport operators. Whilst this has proved successful, in the fast moving technological world of the 21st Century, we are finding that leaflets are now not the most popular, or indeed most effective means of distributing or accessing information.


We’re trying to find out what other organisations and local authorities use today to promote sustainable travel, their success and effectiveness;


- Is there still a place for leaflets?

- Is the web now the best way to promote sustainable travel?

- Are smart phone ‘apps’ the way forward as the best compromise between leaflets and the web?

- Should we be entirely web-focussed with a well designed, ‘one-stop shop’ for all travel, accommodation and attraction information in the Peak District?

Re: What is the best way of marketing and promoting Public Transport in 2012? #2

There's still an important role for printed information:
1. For those who can't access the technology.
2. For places with patchy mobile reception.
3. For marketing to tourists - with appealing literature promoting a 'car-free experience'

Re: What is the best way of marketing and promoting Public Transport in 2012? #3

With the combination of rising operating costs and the economic recession public transport operators are always looking at new ways of raising revenue. One means of doing that is to use Social Networking to build a supportive community of users for their services, to welcome and convert those internet-savvy users who are not yet ‘supporters’, and to use this community to spread the message that using public transport is ‘cool’. A similar approach can be used for spreading a message that more sustainable modes generally, including walking, cycling, and car-sharing, are both realistic in terms of 21st century lifestyle and can promote a ‘feel-good’ factor. As well as the promotional benefits, public transport operators can also use Social Networking simply to give timely information, but in a targeted and easily-digestible way. For some, ‘Twitter’ is becoming a major means of doing that. While the information-giving objective drives this, ‘Twitter’ also allows organisations to build a community (following Tweets themselves, and receiving ‘retweets’ from customers) and interact with that.
In the UK, while Social Networking is being increasingly used by public transport operators to convey timely information and promote the use of their brand, its use by local authorities to promote sustainable travel is quite patchy.

Re: What is the best way of marketing and promoting Public Transport in 2012? #4

"As a rural authority we are always conscious of striking the right balance with the format of our marketing and promoting of Public Transport. In the current economic climate the benefits of focusing on web and smart phone technologies are obvious and our LSTF will enable us to develop this further. However in the short term there will always be a need for printed materials, as has been demonstrated in our personal travel planning programme. Working together with all PT providers in an area to provide high quality consistant information is crucial"

Re: What is the best way of marketing and promoting Public Transport in 2012? #5

Is there still a place for leaflets? Yes, until the population in general become fully used to the electronic means of communication. In any case, carefully designed leaflets can cerate a positive impact about any proposal.

- Is the web now the best way to promote sustainable travel? Not necessarily, as explained above.

- Are smart phone ‘apps’ the way forward as the best compromise between leaflets and the web? These ‘apps’ certainly supplement other means of communication, but are yet to be treated as the exclusive way forward.

- Should we be entirely web-focussed with a well designed, ‘one-stop shop’ for all travel, accommodation and attraction information in the Peak District? I don’t think so, as explained above. There should be a gradual progression in the use of technology alone

Re: What is the best way of marketing and promoting Public Transport in 2012? #6

Thanks for some great responses. A recent survey that we've conducted has also shown that the majority of people still see a need for printed material, particularly in rural areas with a strong tourism / visitor economy. Many visitors to the Peak District have access to a smart phone, but would still rather come in to a tourist information centre for leaflets and activity ideas.

With regards to doing more online, the value of social media in marketing and promoting more sustainable travel is becoming clear, particularly as it is basically free to do. However, we still need an interesting, easy-to-use website to direct people to. A desirable aim for us is a 'one stop shop' website, where residents and visitors can come to find out about attractions and services in the area, and find a way of getting there, potentially with incentives such as discounts for bus passengers. The difficulty with a website and the limited resources we have is the upkeep and maintainance, particularly when we're finding there are changes to bus and train timetables every month, and in some unfortunate cases a complete loss of services.

We need to continue to find innovative ways to market and promote the services we have left to ensure they don't go the same way. All the same, it seems printed material does still have a very important role to play.
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