The first major changes to the bus routes and schedules at the University of Virginia (UVA) in Charlottesville in more than 20 years were scheduled to go into effect today.
The new service is designed to be more efficient, reliable and easier to understand. The previous schedule had routes changing at certain times of the day, which some students, faculty and staff found confusing.
Key to a successful transition to the new system will be the marketing campaign led by Miles Morrison, student marketing manager of the University Transit Service, a division of University Parking and Transportation.
Morrison has been publicizing the revamped routes and schedules for the past month, using a combination of strategies to maximize the reach of his message. Central to his strategy is to push customers to UVA’s Website, which offers a map of the new routes and a timetable for each route.
“Rather than bombard them with information, we’re trying to get people to go to the Website to inform themselves,” Morrison said.
Morrison has implemented a multi-pronged marketing attack that includes placards in UTS buses; fliers at bus stops, off-campus university housing, dorms and other campus locations; commercials for the university’s HooView TV monitors in the student union; and articles in campus publications.
Morrison also started a UVA-only Facebook group, which he said only took about 20 minutes to set up. He invited all of his friends and the university’s bus drivers. He’s gotten a couple hundred people to join the group, but had hoped for more. “It was less successful than I expected,” he said, pointing out that UVA has a student body of 15,000.
The Facebook group could grow in popularity, Morrison said, because school doesn’t actually start until Aug. 26. “I just want to get people to know that the bus routes are changing,” he said. “It’s going to be a lot better, more efficient and reliable.”