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Center Identification Number:  77810   

Project Title:  Utilizing Information Technology in Innovative Marketing Approaches for Public Transportation

Co-Principal Investigators:

William Morris, Senior Research Associate
Phone: 813-974-6804

Rob Gregg, Program Director
Phone: (863) 289-1349


Center for Urban Transportation Research
University of South Florida
Fax: 813-974-5168

External Project Contact:     

Elizabeth Stutts
Public Transportation Office / Transit Planning
(850) 414-4530

I.  Project Objective/Problem Statement

According to a Neilsen/Net Ratings survey in 2004, 203.4 million people in the U.S. have access to the internet, representing 75 percent of the U.S. population.2 According to, in the second quarter of 2007 there are 1.1 billion people worldwide who use the internet, a 220 percent increase over the estimated 361 million in 2000. 3 The explosion of the Internet has created opportunities for innovative marketing approaches from Avatars to YouTube to myspace. Defining the term, “innovative” for transit marketers means public transportation organizations can use an array of low-cost (e.g., blogs, wikis, and podcasts) and/or targeted incentive tactics (e.g., individualized marketing, cash for trial use) to increase use of alternatives to driving alone. Unconventional marketing approaches could increase ridership by maximizing the impact of declining marketing budgets to reach new markets. With advances in technology (e.g., SmartCards and mobile wireless access on buses), creation of free online tools such as Google transit,, and proliferation of global-positioning system enabled cell phones, more public transportation systems are expected to apply these new but currently unconventional marketing approaches. This project begins with the hypothesis that the opportunity for new marketing approaches is unlimited while the potential remains largely untapped.

II.  Objectives/Tasks

The objective of this study is to scan the internet and other information technology sources to identify innovative marketing techniques that have been attempted to date by, in and surrounding the public transportation industry, and to solicit ideas for more unconventional applications that transit agencies and TDM professionals can consider. There will be a special focus on low cost, high impact techniques that can be easily and quickly employed to reach target markets and audiences. The study will also provide tools for transit agencies to use the various sources for their own tailored marketing approaches.

Task 1:  Project Management

This task will deal with on-going management activities of the project, preparing progress reports, and reviewing and editing final deliverables.

Task 2:  Literature Review

This task will examine literature from a multitude of academic and non-academic disciplines including business, entertainment, internet, and retail books to gain an understanding of the overall environment of marketing approaches on the internet. The review will include the transit industry as there are transit and TDM strategies already in use on popular internet websites, but could also include other public sector arenas and/or industries similar to transit.

Task 3: Establish a Steering Committee of Public Transportation Marketing Professionals

NCTR will use its extensive listserv subscriber base (over 3,000 transit and TDM professionals around the world) to identify unconventional applications and solicit ideas. A steering committee made up of Florida marketing, ACT and APTA marketing professionals will guide the project.

Task 4: Research and Document Public Transit Industry's Innovative Uses of Marketing Applications and Internet Based Technologies

This task will build on the literature review by locating actual applications of unconventional marketing approaches. This task will focus on:

  • Identifying Industry Leaders at the forefront of using new media approaches
  • Interviewing Marketing Program Managers
  • Collecting materials, information, and application examples .

Task 5:  Development of a "Web-based Resource WorkBook"

The completion of tasks 1 through 4 will be necessary in order to shape and organize this task, which will be the development of a web-based resource workbook that can be accessed by marketing professionals throughout Florida and the nation. It is anticipated that a subconsultant will be retained to help shape the ultimate structure of this workbook and engage in the “hard” web development activities that will realize the final workbook. CUTR will submit a formal subconsultant scope of services and separate budget sheet to FDOT when this task is ready to be defined. The initial concept for the interactive workbook, to be defined and refined, is that it will become a downloadable document with a web-based environment that will contain embedded links to videos, databases, interactive chat, weblogs, and may have a listserv capability that could be hosted on a site like This would give the workbook a dynamic and continuing life as others could post new techniques over time.

Task 6:  White Paper: Analysis, Observations and Recommendations

To document the efforts of the study and to provide technology transfer to a wider range of audiences, the study will conclude with a white paper that attempts to answer the following questions:

  • What is the state of mind in the transit industry regarding the utilization of new media technologies?
  • What are pertinent analogies of other service oriented industries?
  • What are the ingredients that Mobility Mangers need currently to explore and use web based techniques?
  • What are the implications and recommendations to the Public Transportation Industry? 

III. Deliverables

Project deliverables will include quarterly progress reports, a draft and final web-based workbook, and a final White Paper.

Progress Reports - Progress reports will be submitted on a quarterly basis to the Research Center for processing. The first progress report will become due 90 days after a Notice to Proceed is issued to the consultant by the Department. They may be sent in MS Word format to Sandra Bell, Contracts Administrator at Progress reports must include the following information: 1. Contract Number, Work Order Number and Title 2. Work performed during the month 3. Work to be performed in the following month 4. Requested modifications (i.e., to funding, schedule, or scope) *see separate instructions for requesting approval of modifications 5. An updated Exhibit “D” Progress Schedule.

Draft Workbook - The draft workbook will be edited for grammar, clarity, organization, and readability prior to submission to the Department for technical approval and posting to internet. The editor providing the review will sign a cover sheet attesting to such review prior to submission. The provision for editorial services will be the Principal Investigator’s responsibility (the author or a designated party may perform the review). It is expected that a well-written, high-quality report will be submitted. Reports failing to meet this requirement will be summarily rejected. The only changes allowable between the draft final report and the final report will be those changes requested by the Project Manager and/or the Research Center.

Final White Paper - A minimum of 13 copies of the white paper will be delivered to: The Research Center, 605 Suwannee Street, MS 30, Tallahassee, FL 32399-0450. A camera ready unbound original, and an electronic copy in MS Word format on CD no later than the end date of the RWPO. One electronic copy in MS Word format of a Summary of the Final White Paper to include the following four sections: Background, Objectives and Supporting Tasks, Findings and Conclusions, and the Benefit of the Project. The Summary shall be a separate document and should be approximately 500 words in length. The Final White Paper shall contain a completed Technical Report Documentation Form #F.1700.7, immediately after the title page. The Final White Paper shall contain a page after the Technical Report Documentation Form that states the following: 1. The opinions, findings and conclusions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the State of Florida Department of Transportation, or the U.S. Department of Transportation. 2. Prepared in cooperation with the State of Florida Department of Transportation and the U.S. Department of Transportation. Copies of the Final White Paper will be bound with a front and back cover that is acceptable to the Department. .

IV.  Project Schedule

Gantt chart showing schedule for project


V.  Project Budget

Utilizing Information Technology in Innovative Marketing Approaches for Public Transportation

Budget Categories


Center Director Salary

$   1,113

Faculty Salaries

$ 29,712

Admin. Staff Salaries


Other Staff Salaries


Student Salaries


Staff Benefits

$ 14,861

Total Salaries and Benefits

$ 45,696



Permanent Equipment


Expendable Property/Supplies


Domestic Travel

$  4,800  

Foreign Travel


Other Direct Costs

$ 30,000

Total Direct Costs

$ 80,496

Indirect Costs

 $  8,050

Total Costs

$ 88,546

Notes: This budget does not reflect any federal participation. The project team will include faculty, students, and secretarial and other support staff who will work directly on the project and whose costs are reflected in the direct costs of the project as listed above. Budget requests includes salaries for clerical and administrative staff, postage, telephone calls, office supplies, general purpose software, subscriptions, and/or memberships.

VI. Equipment

No need for non-standard equipment is expected for conducting the proposed research.

VII. Travel

This NCTR project is fortunate that the Florida Transit Marketing Network will meet at the annual FPTA meeting in Orlando in October as well as the FPTA Mid-year workshop in June 2008. These two conferences are funded from other sources and will not require NCTR travel funds. However, APTA’s national Marketing conference is scheduled for February 2008 in Orlando, FL. Travel expenses include conducting project work, including pre-planned and pre-scheduled interviews with marketing professional at this conference. The purpose of attending the APTA conference is to conduct interviews with marketing professionals and utilize their knowledge, expertise, guidance and ideas in completing the final deliverables. Other travel will include co-PI travel to be determined as possible case studies emerge.

VIII. Student Involvement

Rob Gregg and William Morris will serve as co-principal investigators for the project with support from a graduate student (Monique Ellis) in conducting the literature review and with assistance of faculty members Holly Carapella, Ann Joslin and Mark Mistretta in conducting tasks three through six.

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: