Management & Operations

Transit looks to Internet for market expansion

Posted on March 1, 2001

In order to meet a growing interest in public transportation merchandise, major transit authorities around the country are increasingly offering their signature products to the public via the Internet. Several transit properties, including New York City Transit (NYCT), the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and the Maryland Mass Transit Administration (MTA), established online stores on their Websites. “A large number of people are already visiting the site for ticket fares, maps and info, so there is a natural progression for them to look at what’s available in the online store,” said John Berle, marketing specialist for the MTA. These online stores offer various items such as T-shirts, hats and model trains, each with an official logo or design from the transit authority. It’s also possible to buy train and bus passes in the stores. Any of the items can be purchased by credit card and delivered directly to the customer. Although e-marketing is not a new concept, the trend developed somewhat recently for transit authorities. According to Berle, most of the online stores were set up in the past year, and the MTA put its store online earlier this year. The success of early online stores, like the one on the CTA’s Website, revealed a growing demand for these types of products. Noell Gaffney, vice president of communications and marketing for the CTA, said that e-store revenues are rising. “The holiday season always gives a good sign, and we saw a definite increase in business this Christmas over Christmas last year,” she said. As a result, other transit agencies rushed to update their own Websites with complete lines of merchandise. Berle said this surge in online marketing will continue. The MTA’s future marketing strategies may include expanding inventory and offering hyperlinks to other transit company Websites, he said. “This feature would provide customers with special deals for trip planning between two separate areas,” he said. However, increasing sales is not the only reason for e-marketing, Gaffney said. She said that the purpose of the CTA’s online store is to “provide useful information about us, while giving the people of Chicago some fun things to consider.” Check out the online stores at transitgear.mtamaryland.com for the Maryland MTA, www.yourcta.com/store/index.html for the CTA and www.mta.nyc.ny.us/nyct/materiel/collectsales/index.html for NYCT.

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