Recently, Metro began a destination marketing scheme called ‘Connect the Dots’ specific to Route 245 on the Eastside. The scheme emphasizes access and corridor destinations over generic coverage. In addition to marketing and promotion, Metro also plans for various other improvements, ranging from bus stop branding to new bike rack installation. From Metro spokesperson, Rochelle Ogershok:
The promotional campaign is designed to increase awareness and trial of the Route 245. The campaign includes public events at key areas served by the 245, employer outreach, and residential mailings.
This is not really a new type of marketing effort for Metro. We have done several route specific promotions in the past. We target routes that have extra capacity — either on the buses and/or at the park and ride lots and focus our efforts on ways to get more people on the bus. Those can be new people that have never ridden, or existing riders who we would like to ride more.
According to Ogershok, the promotional campaign is funded by grants specific to the 245 and will last into early 2011. You can take a look at the ‘Connect the Dots’ brochure here (PDF). Some general thoughts below the jump.
While there are no plans for actual service changes to the 245, it’s refreshing to see how Metro is improving its map-based marketing. We’ve opined in the past about Metro’s rather confusing maps. Outside of actual service and operations, branding and marketing are extraordinarily useful and cost-effective measures to increasing ridership and transit attractiveness. Visually, the map is a tremendous improvement over its predecessors (compare to traditional 245 map).
– Figure-ground/Contrast: The use of colors is a refreshing improvement over Metro’s traditional black/white/red scheme. Contrast is generally an excellent measure in bringing out the important elements (i.e., symbolizing the route as a thick solid red against a lighter more opaque background).
– Symbolization: The use of various symbols is important so map-readers don’t get confused over what’s what. There’s ample contrast between the symbol shapes, sizes, and hues. For example, while all points are symbolized as circles with heavy outlines, the map distinguishes between major neighborhood stops along the line (larger with dark green outline) and other area destinations off the line (smaller with gray outline).
– Visual simplicity: Unlike Metro’s conventional route maps, which are a heap of dashes, numbers, and arrows, the 245 map simplifies the actual route path to a solid line. By establishing a geographic base layer map of Bellevue in the background, riders have a much better context of where they might be going. Furthermore, this eliminates the necessity to clutter street numbers along the line.
– Destination marketing: While it’s obvious Metro can’t replicate this for every route map, the listing of major destinations off to the side of the map helps avoid cluttering while providing information that might be useful to 245 riders.
If Metro is unable to market every bus route in the same manner, at least upgrading the maps to this kind of quality would be a tremendous improvement. And of course, a frequent network map is always on our wish list as well.