Thursday, August 28, 2008

CDTA's Hip Hip HooRAY!

About a month ago, it dawned on me --I am an official "public transportation geek."

The clue that tipped me off was the enthusiasm with which I nodded my head while sitting in an empty room and watching the online video of CDTA's July board meeting - something Executive Director, Ray Melleady said had been right on target. You've got to be really into transit to sit through a board meeting of your Transit Authority.

So, you can probably imagine my excitement when I returned home Sunday night at 9 p.m. - exhausted from driving the rental car I had over the weekend to get out of town and enjoy the Adirondacks for a couple of days - I opened my Sunday Times Union to see Ray Melleady's piece on the front page of the Perspective section.

I couldn't wait to see what Ray had to say.

It was filled with good stuff, and he drove it all home with my favorite part right here:

This is a direct call to elected officials, business leaders, chambers of commerce, labor unions and transit managers. If you are serious about energy independence and conservation, we need to advocate for the authorization of new public policy and funding initiatives that reward communities for developing a strong public transportation infrastructure.

The communities that get it right will grow and prosper. The ones that get it wrong will shrink and preside over a slow and steady decline.

When I finished reading, it left me wondering how often Ray rides the bus.

You can actually watch Ray give a lesson on how to ride the bus by clicking here (go to the "More from Ray..." box on the upper right side of the page, you'll need Windows Media Player to view - then click on the "Frequently Asked Questions" link ) -- this video was definitely made before Google Transit came to town, and doesn't even mention the Trip Planner; still it conveys some very useful info. Also check out the Welcome Message link at the same location where Ray introduces viewers to the website... via the website. Yeah -- kinda on the silly side that you need to go to the website in order to watch the video highlighting their site improvements. This video was made a while ago as well, again it doesn't mention Trip Planner or Google Transit, and Ray spends some needless time discussing their branding and the color blue (really, not necessary in retrospect, but I'm sure at the time of the shoot, the marketing folks and management were keen on the big change to blue buses). My favorite of the two is definitely the FAQ video -- the intro music pulls me right into the video and onto the bus.

Speaking of CDTA's marketing efforts, I've noticed a bunch of new interior CDTA ads on the bus. My favorites are some great ads introducing CDTA employees (unfortunately, I couldn't find any samples on the CDTA website to link to, but I recall bus operators and mechanics -- I, of course, am waiting to see the one that introduces Dolly!) ; the ads also act as a "want ad" for employees and push the concept of "working green". Then yesterday, I happened to look up on the bus and noticed the interior was plastered with CDTA ads -- some of them should have been placed more carefully because there were instances where the same bus rider would view just one ad multiple times. I noticed one ad promoting safety on the bus and another directing riders to check out the CDTA website -- which I think is a great idea. Good work, CDTA. I'm hoping to see more ads that direct riders to specific aspects of the site, like Google Transit, Trip Planner, Service Alerts and the News Center.

Growing up in NYC, the advertising on the inside of subway cars and buses was just as prevalent as the advertising everyplace else in the city. I remember as a kid and a teenager, spending much of my transit time checking out all of the ads on the trains and buses. I also recall teenage boys I knew who dug the Preparation H ads so much, they would take them home and post on their bedroom walls! (I searched for a sample old ad to enhance this post, but couldn't find one -- if you can, send it my way!)

I think CDTA is missing opportunities to increase revenue a bit by selling more ads on the interior of buses and at bus shelters -- and you'd think all those new buses equipped with cameras will prevent adolescents and frat boys running off with interior decorations.

No comments: