Calling on Your Customers to 'Buy Local for Transit'

Posted on November 22, 2010 by Janna Starcic - Also by this author

Community Transit based in Snohomish, Wash., launched its Buy Local for Transit campaign Thursday, a long-term effort designed to encourage people to shop in their communities, strengthening local businesses and increasing local tax revenues, which supports public transportation.

Community Transit gets a majority of its funding from a voter-approved 0.9 percent sales tax within its service district. For 2010, 56 percent of its budget is funded through sales tax, with the remainder being made up by other sources including fares and grants.

With consumer spending down during the recession, the agency's sales tax revenue has fallen by about $20 million a year. As a result, the agency has had to make major service cuts earlier this year, including eliminating all Sunday service.


When the transit system announced its service cuts, a lot of their customers asked how they could help, said Community Transit spokesperson, Martin Munguia. "This is a call to action," he said of the Buy Local for Transit campaign. "It's something our riders can do to help  their service."

A Buy Local for Transit Website has been set up with information about the program, a downloadable "I Buy Local for Transit" card and a growing list of participating businesses that will offer special discounts. Transit riders can show their regional fare card (ORCA) to get the discounts as well.

More businesses are expected to sign on once word starts to spread about the program, Munguia said.

The Buy Local for Transit campaign is a great idea that could be incorporated by other transit systems into their marketing efforts. Aspen, Colo.-based Roaring Fork Transit Authority already had a similar campaign in place called "Ride Local. Buy Local.," which promotes ridership during the off-season by giving out coupons to bus riders for discounts at local businesses.

Besides just trying to boost local tax revenues, the campaign is a good educational piece for Community Transit, Munguia said, as it teaches people how the transit system is funded. "A lot of people, especially the ones that don't use transit just think, 'Oh, the people that pay their fare on the bus that's what pays for the ride.' They don't realize that the fare only pays for about 18 percent for the cost of the ride."

Mungia said that when the system has to cut service, "the more people that realize where Community Transit's funded sources originate, hopefully they'll understand when we do make service cuts, why that is."

I think Munguia is onto something in terms of educating riders and the local community as to how the transit system is funded. I think if more people were aware of the situation, they would be more sympathetic to public transportation's plight during these challenging economic times, and more understanding when service cuts or fare hikes are needed.

Does your transit system educate your riders about your system's funding sources?


View comments or post a comment on this story. (0 Comments)

More From the Editor's Blog Posts

June 30, 2015

Can Courtesy Campaigns Curb the 'Trashing' of Transit?

It drives me nuts when people litter. One of my biggest pet peeves is when people throw trash out of their car windows while they’re driving. I’m always tempted to honk my horn when I see drivers slyly ditching cigarette butts through their open window. Listen up, people. We see you!

April 28, 2015

How transit agencies can manage the 'blizzard' of negativity on Twitter

Agencies that use Twitter to respond to users’ complaints or answer questions get more positive Twitter reaction and more civil discourse online, according to Lisa Schweitzer the author of a recent study analyzing tweets of public transit agencies. “It’s about the marketing potential of social media — a lot of public transit agencies are simply tweeting their problems to the world by blasting out late service announcements. That’s not a good use of Twitter,” she says. “Transit agencies can influence the tone of the discussion by interacting with patrons online,” Schweitzer explains. “It gives people something to respond to, and it reminds people that somebody is listening.”

January 16, 2015

8 Resolutions to Help Better Your Bus Business

Usually by early January, I will hopefully have taken down the last of our holiday decorations and eaten or given away the remaining sweets that have become a part of my regular diet during the month of December. Then, of course like most people, I’ll think about ways I want to improve myself for the coming year. Whether it be exercising more (walking from the parking lot to my office doesn’t count), eating less ice cream or managing my email better. The latter practice alone would help improve my efficiency at work immensely. I’m sure you probably feel the same way.

July 17, 2013

Reports can only help public transit's case

A new National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) study solidifies what the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) Transit Savings Report has been telling us for years now: riding public transportation can save users money.

June 14, 2013

Transit agencies should take advantage of 'Dump the Pump Day'

June 20 will mark the 8th annual National Dump the Pump Day sponsored by the American Public Transportation Association, in partnership with the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
See More

Post a Comment

Post Comment

Comments (0)

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher

Automotive Fleet

The Car and truck fleet and leasing management magazine

Business Fleet

managing 10-50 company vehicles

Fleet Financials

Executive vehicle management

Government Fleet

managing public sector vehicles & equipment


Work Truck Magazine

The number 1 resource for vocational truck fleets

Schoolbus Fleet

Serving school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada

LCT Magazine

Global Resource For Limousine and Bus Transportation