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Media Contact:
Morgan Lyons
or Robin Stringfellow

August 21, 1998

Some things are more important than Driving

Selling public transit: the driver-to-rider conversion

What's more important than driving? The morning traffic report tells DART's marketing experts that more and more people are considering that question these days.

Owning and driving a car is a given for most adults in the Southwest. For a long time we had to have a car to get to work -- or anywhere outside of walking distance. Of course, huge advertising campaigns still link independence and good times with driving.

But increasing traffic congestion in the Dallas area and in cities throughout America has drivers looking for an exit ramp. Happily, DART's expanding network of buses, trains, and high occupancy vehicle lanes is giving drivers some real options when it comes to the job commute and leisure activities. The big job is to nudge transit customers and carpoolers to take that first brave step. Get out of that single occupancy vehicle and get on a bus or train -- or at least share the ride!

Making DART A Part of your day

"We're appealing to the commuters who've had it with traffic jams and long commutes. Of course, they'd rather be having fun, being productive," says DART Marketing and Communications Vice President Sue Bauman. New billboard, print, transit and radio ads focus on the down time commuters enjoy while heading riding public transit. Pictures of train and bus riders reading newspapers, visiting with friends, catching up on work, putting on make-up or just relaxing in their seats support the campaign message: "Some things are more important than driving."

The rider-oriented campaign is based on market research and input from customer focus groups, according to Assistant Vice President of Marketing Matt Raymond. "People want a comfortable, economical, hassle-free ride, so they can arrive at work or at home feeling relaxed and ready to go. DART offers that option. Somebody else is driving the bus or train. Carpools are fun and fast when you're in the HOV lane," he said

Radio spots for the campaign feature a funny, fast-talking host talking to train and bus riders about DART. In one segment, he yells at a driver in bumper-to-bumper traffic next an HOV lane, "Hey, you can't park there! This is a freeway!"

Better service, free rides, targeted audiences

Seeing public transit as a positive option is not just a marketing strategy, of course. Raymond's staff works with DART planners and customer panels to analyze and maximize bus routes in the service area. "We also send out free-ride offers to newcomers and for special audience promotion, together with information on our low fares and convenient stations and transit centers," says Advertising Manager Micah Causey.

"Employers are a growing market for DART services. When a company pays for its employees' bus and rail passes, ridership increases by as much as 300 percent. Businesses are buying our E-Pass at substantial discounts as a benefit for their employees, and ridership is increasing. Businesses are finding big pay-backs in a more on-time work force and more productive, stress-free employees," Raymond says.

Ridership on bus and rail has been steadily increasing since the light rail system opened -- and DART's marketing specialists want to keep those numbers going north. "We want to keep that consistent, comprehensive message out there -- some things really are more important than driving," Causey says.

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