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Center Identification Number: 416-10

Project Title: Continuation and Enhancement of The Public Transportation Promotional Materials Clearinghouse

Principal Investigator: 

Dennis Hinebaugh, Transit Program Director
813-974-9833
E-mail: hinebaugh@cutr.eng.usf.edu

Institution: 

National Center for Transit Research (NCTR) at the Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR)
University of South Florida
Tampa, Florida

External Project Contact: 

Elizabeth Stutts, Grant Programs Administrator, FDOT
850-414-4500
E-Mail: Liz.Stutts@dot.state.fl.us

I. Project Objective

The Promotional Materials Clearinghouse at the Marketing Institute of Florida State University was originally created by the National Urban Transit Institute (NUTI) to provide a single location for display, archiving and sharing of ideas and collateral materials by public transportation systems and travel demand managers (TDM). To this end, an extensive collection of items and materials has been collected. This project will maintain and expand the services of the Clearinghouse to include a more extensive collection of materials with a special emphasis on those appropriate for TDM programs and small to medium sized transit properties. New services include an online survey of public transportation professionals, keyword search of archived materials, streaming video/audio of award winning PSAs, promotional advice and assistance to Florida public transportation systems and an extensive public domain clipart database. In addition, articles relevant to either the Clearinghouse or marketing and promotion in general will be written for trade magazines (Passenger Transport/ TDM Review) on at least a bi-annual basis. Finally, professional papers/presentations will be prepared for APTA, ACT and the Florida Transit Association annual meetings.

II. Project Abstract

The ability of public transportation professionals to review the marketing and promotional accomplishments of their peers is a valuable tool in bettering the overall efficacy of their services. Such an exchange helps to curtail much of the cost and labor that routinely accompany the development and execution of marketing and promotional activities. Unfortunately, without a central information clearinghouse to which public transportation marketers and communications experts can refer and contribute, these efforts can go unnoticed and untried in other markets.

The formation of the National Urban Transit Institute (NUTI) Promotional Materials Clearinghouse in 1996 addressed this problem by establishing an information relay system through which public transportation marketers share actual work examples, review available literature on marketing, and tap into the experiential knowledge of their peers. The Clearinghouse collects promotional materials from public transportation systems and TDM programs nationwide and provides the framework necessary to facilitate exchange of these materials, primarily through a site on the World Wide Web (WWW). This project will build on the success of the NUTI Clearinghouse and expand and enhance those efforts.

During the operation of the NUTI Clearinghouse over eighty public transportation systems have contributed materials to the project and new materials are received on a continuing basis. In addition to garnering the support of public transportation systems and TDM programs, the Clearinghouse has enlisted the advocacy of organizations such as the American Public Transit Association (APTA), the Association for Commuter Transportation (ACT), and the U.S. EPA's Mobile Source Unit. These organizations, like the transportation professionals they represent and support, have noted the fundamental value in the goals and objectives of this project which:

  • Showcase successful and award winning promotional campaigns
  • Facilitate exchange of information between public transportation providers
  • Encourage the use of new communications technologies such as the World Wide Web
  • Promote the greater exchange of data and information between individuals, professional organizations, government, and academic institutions both inside the industry and in related fields of study such as marketing, economics, and planning.

III. Task Descriptions

It is the intention of the NCTR at CUTR to subcontract this Work Order with the Marketing Institute at Florida State University.

The activities outlined above will be accomplished through the following tasks:

TASK 1: Continue Materials Acquisition

Because service marketing is a dynamic field, program development and implementation are constantly changing. For this reason, the Marketing Institute will continue to collect, archive, and distribute marketing collateral and documents. Most of the activities involved in this component of the project will focus on the systems that have already submitted materials. They have taken a vested interest in the project and will ensure a revolving supply of such materials. The Clearinghouse will also continue to solicit materials from other public transportation systems with a special emphasis on TDM programs in order to broaden diversity among collected items.

In order to encourage submissions to the Clearinghouse, solicitation requests will be sent to systems represented in APTA and ACT's Membership Directories. Solicitation requests will appear in two forms. First, to those systems that have contributed information will receive requests for updated materials. And second, solicitation letters will be sent to those systems, professional organizations, government agencies, and academic institutions whose participation will add further value to the project.

TASK 2: Improve Information Distribution Process

The type and quality of materials that a user can view on the Clearinghouse web site is often restricted due to bandwidth issues. However, as broader bandwidths become available, it becomes more and more practical for the Clearinghouse to provide access to video and audio - two key media elements in marketing.

Therefore, the Clearinghouse will begin producing and/or showcasing both video and audio marketing materials. This will include television and radio advertising. Clearinghouse staff will also seek to address new advances in internet graphic marketing by showcasing or highlighting Flash and Shockwave usage in web-based transit and TDM marketing.

TASK 3: Evaluate Current and Future Needs of Public Transportation Marketers

A focused attempt will also be undertaken during this extension of the Clearinghouse to measure the needs of public transportation marketers. Such a survey was conducted by the Marketing Institute (then the Florida Institute for Marketing Alternative Transportation (FIMAT)) in 1995. This new survey will be developed with the assistance of marketing faculty within the College of Business and mailed to transit and TDM marketers using membership listings of both the American Public Transit Association and the Association for Commuter Transportation. Results of the survey will be made available to the Association for Commuter Transportation, the American Public Transit Association, the Federal Transit Administration, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to help guide resource allocation that can assist in bolstering use and awareness of public transportation services.

TASK 4: Collection and Distribution of Award Winners

The American Public Transit Association (APTA) has agreed to forward entries and winners of the Ad Wheel Competition to the Clearinghouse. This annual competition highlights the marketing and promotional accomplishments of public transportation systems across the country. Once received, the information including any accompanying graphics and text will be posted on the Clearinghouse's web site. Similar efforts for the Association for Commuter Transportation's Awards program are planned for this project.

An additional effort will be made to collect materials pertaining to Commuter Choice. The specific elements of Commuter Choice provide real challenges for TDM and transit professionals who wish to market the program to employers. Therefore, the Marketing Institute will specifically solicit Commuter Choice materials and make such materials available on the Clearinghouse. This task will undoubtedly improve circulating information about the program and benefit an agency's employer marketing goals.

TASK 5. Technical Assistance

Staff of the project will be available to provide advice and technical assistance to Florida based programs in the area of customer satisfaction, surveying (not to include actual survey implementation), development of marketing plans, and graphic/visual marketing development.

TASK 6: Professional Presentations and Final Report

Professional presentations and papers will be developed for APTA, ACT, the Florida Transit Association (FTA) and other groups per request. Pertinent articles will be developed for at least two issues of Passenger Transport and TDM Review.

At the conclusion of the project, a final report will be compiled which will outline the activities of staff and students. This final report will also contain results of the survey as outlined in Task Three and will contain an overview of public transportation marketing trends. This final report will also serve as the foundation for additional funding requests from individuals and/or agencies that wish to continue financial support for the Clearinghouse.

VI. Student Involvement

Students will be used to solicit input from public transportation systems, digitize the materials and respond to requests for materials. They will also update the web site and do follow-up on requests for materials. It is anticipated that one MBA Student and one undergraduate will be employed per semester. The MBA will be awarded full tuition waiver by the College in addition to the stipend received as a result of this project.

VII. Relationship to Other Research Projects

The Marketing Institute conducts ongoing research and education in the field of public transportation marketing and research. These projects include niche marketing studies, professional development seminars and consumer attitude surveys. The Clearinghouse will borrow upon this research to better serve public transportation professionals in Florida. The Institute also maintains communication with similar project operators throughout the country.

VIII. Technology Transfer Activities/Peer Review

The primary mission of the Clearinghouse is to provide for interaction and technology transfer of marketing and promotional materials. Promotion of the Clearinghouse will be broadened to guarantee exposure of the project. APTA has provided significant assistance in this area and has agreed to continue promoting the project through its Marketing and Communications Steering Committee. Also, concerted efforts will be undertaken to ensure all public transportation systems have access to this information. Although the Clearinghouse's web site will serve as a primary distribution device, individuals without Internet access will receive updates on the project and assistance in accessing the information through traditional means. To this end materials will be placed on the World Wide Web, CDs and ZipDisks created, articles/presentations will be developed for professional publications and meetings and staff will be available for technical assistance to public transportation systems in Florida.

Members of the oversight committee will represent both small and large public transportation systems as well as TDM professionals, reflecting the type of input and exchange sought by the Clearinghouse. Individuals of this new oversight committee include:

APTA Public Relations and Communications Director APTA Marketing and Communications Steering Committee ACT Marketing Committee Chair FDOT Project Manager FTA (Florida Transit Association) Representative TDM Review Editor

IX. Potential Benefits of the Project

Nationally, many public transportation programs find it difficult to market to the rapidly changing needs and lifestyles of their current and potential consumers. The Promotional Materials Clearinghouse provides direct support to public transportation marketers and helps them identify effective marketing and promotional strategies.

On a local level, continued operation of the Clearinghouse will enhance the educational and research functions of the National Center for Transit Research and expose students within the FSU College of Business to career opportunities within the field of public transportation. Students assigned to the project will be encouraged to enter the transportation marketing field, providing valuable input and real world experience to the profession and, consequently, to the commuting public.

 

   

National Center for Transit Research at the Center For Urban Transportation Research University of South Florida 4202 E. Fowler Ave., CUT100 Tampa, FL 33620-5375 (813) 974-3120 (813) 974-5168 www.nctr.usf.edu Comments: webmaster@cutr.eng.usf.edu