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Center Identification Number: 473-03

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

Co-Principal Investigators: 
Dennis Hinebaugh, Transit Program Director

Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR)
University of South Florida
Tampa, Florida

Bill Mustard, Director
(850) 644-2509

The Marketing Institute
Florida State University
Tallahassee, Florida

External Project Contact: 
Elizabeth Stutts, Grant Programs Administrator, FDOT

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. Current services include online archive of print marketing materials and video as well as promotional advice and assistance to Florida public transportation systems.

Enhancements to the Clearinghouse that will be undertaken in this particular extension request would be the cataloguing and posting of public domain clip art, photographs, and fonts. The most extensive enhancement planned for the Clearinghouse would be the development of tutorials to assist Florida public transportation systems with their print and digital publishing needs. The Institute will continue to promote the Clearinghouse through transportation 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 as a continuation of the Clearinghouse's public education/instruction efforts.

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). Although Clearinghouse materials are acquired from sources throughout the nation, Florida TDM agencies and transit systems have dramatically increased their interest in and use of Clearinghouse resources.

To date, over eighty public transportation systems and TDM agencies 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
  • Provide educational/instructional environments that promote dramatic, consistent, and cost-effective design tools.
  • 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.

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.

Furthermore, new efforts will be undertaken to increase awareness among private organizations to the needs of public transit professionals. Increasing such awareness will force these private market forces to respond to these needs with products that are hopefully inexpensive, targeted, and timely.

TASK 2: Continue to Assess and Respond to Current and Future Needs of Public Transportation Marketers

During the most recent funding of the Clearinghouse, one of the proposed tasks was to measure the needs of public transportation markets. Although incomplete as of this writing, the survey instrument is a survey that will be mailed to membership listings of both the American Public Transit Association and the Association for Commuter Transportation.

Results of this survey will help to hone Clearinghouse services to the needs of respondents. This survey will help us to assess what the true needs of marketers are and incorporate new functions that respond to those needs.

TASK 3: Collection and Distribution of Award Winners

Over the years, the Clearinghouse and the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) have built a cooperative relationship in which APTA forwards entries and winners of the Ad Wheel Competition for posting on the Clearinghouse. The Clearinghouse currently maintains a similar relationship with the Association for Commuter Transportation (ACT).

An extension of the Clearinghouse will allow the Marketing Institute to continue to display award winning materials submitted by both these agencies. The Clearinghouse will continue to solicit all materials, although additional effort will be given to collecting materials deemed appropriate or needed by results of the survey discussed in Task 2. Such materials or issues of interest will include Commuter Choice as well as other TDM-specific issues that affect the marketing operations of agencies.

TASK 4. Tutorial Development and Technical Assistance

A component of the Clearinghouse that was added in 1997 is a collection of small tutorials and "how to" documents that are intended to assist Clearinghouse users in the development of print and web materials. This section of the Clearinghouse, however, will garner greater attention during this proposed extension.

Experience during the past two years has shown that a high-level of interest exists among Florida's TDM and transit agencies regarding the basic principles that guide design and publishing. Presentations on basic marketing design and promotion were presented by Clearinghouse at two Florida TDM Summits and the 2000 ACT International Conference in Orlando. Extensive interest was generated by these presentations about basic design and promotional practices. For this reason, an extension of the Clearinghouse would allow more effort to teaching TDM professionals and transit marketers the fundamentals of design. Success in this endeavor would allow these same professionals to reduce their print budgets by providing the tools for in-house design, production, and distribution.

TASK 5: 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.

IV.  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.

V. 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

VI. 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.

VII. TRB Key Words

Marketing, public transportation, transit, promotional materials.



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 Comments: