Despite already solid teen ridership numbers, Snohomish County, Wash.-based Community Transit (CT) is attempting to show teens that public transportation can be fun by using strategies such as ice cream routes indicated on bus stop signs, a MySpace page and a YouTube video.
Based on feedback from a study done last year by the Gilmore Research Group that asked teens and parents about their feelings regarding public transportation, CT assigned Matthew Gormley, a promotions and outreach specialist, to their youth marketing campaign.
“We were trying to get the kids to look at things from our perspective, when, in order to reach that market, you really need to get it from the kids’ perspective and tailor it accordingly,” Gormley said. Gormley, who successfully attracted today’s technologically savvy youth using digital media during his previous experience as a youth marketing manager for a ski resort, applied a similar focus on fun for this assignment.
CT’s 30-second, humorous YouTube video involved teens in every aspect. The video, which features teens escaping from a security guard by running onto a bus, was directed and edited by a 17-year-old high school student, Sam Kuhn. “His take on things is a lot more authentic because I’m pushing 37 and he’s 17,” Gormley explained. “I find a lot of inspiration from what teens do. It’s great to work with them first-hand.”
Kuhn is not the only teen whose perspective has been valuable to the campaign. The Lynnwood Teen Advisory Group (LTAG) was responsible for suggesting that CT’s MySpace page and its official CT Website were linked, and that the agency’s MySpace address (www.myspace.com/communitytransit) appeared on the interior and exterior of the buses.
The group also hosted an event for about 300 teens at the Lynnwood Parks & Recreation Center, where an ice cream bar menu board with bus flag icons replaced by ice cream cones listed bus routes that service the center and a laptop was available on-site so teens could log on to MySpace and add the agency to their list of friends.
Other CT incentives include an ongoing iPod giveaway on MySpace, a free ticket to ride the bus to one of the summer county activities (in partnership with the Snohomish County Boys & Girls Club and YMCA for the American Heart Association’s Get Movin’ program), and detailed maps (placed in key retail stores) to skate parks that provide bus route directions rather than driving directions.
Said Gromley, “If they’re at least thinking about Community Transit and taking public transportation, then I’m excited about that.”