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Transit Agencies Need to Invest in Marketing: A Lesson from Los Angeles

TRANSIT takes note of the marketing efforts undertaken by the Los Angeles Metro company, which is responsible for subway (MRT), light-rail, Bus-rapid transit and bus service in the Greater Los Angeles Area.

Those familiar with Los Angeles in California, USA, would probably think first of Hollywood, then perhaps expressways and traffic congestion. Los Angeles is also one of the first cities where the phenomenon of ‘smog’ (ground level air pollution caused by industrial and car exhaust) was first really noticed, reported and studied.

But you may not know that at one time the Los Angeles area had one of the largest public transport systems in the entire United States!

And you may not know that the past few years have seen significant investment and improvements to public transport in LA, including the expansion of the subway (MRT) and light-rail systems.

But there is another crucial component to getting car users out of their cars and onto public transport, and that is creative and effective marketing of public transport to the ‘choice’ users (as opposed to the ‘dependent’ user).

As you know here in Malaysia, most public transport agencies focus on the ‘dependent’ user much more than the ‘choice’ user.

Perhaps there is something to learn for us.

From Transit Agencies Need to Invest in Marketing: A Lesson from Los Angeles at The City Fix blog.

“The key to putting together the group,” Mr Raymond said, referring to the in-house ad agency known as Creative Services, “was that we wanted to make public transportation cool.”

Making buses appear as an attractive alternative to cars is an ambitious goal for any transit agency, but it’s especially ambitious in a place like Los Angeles where image and the automobile are everything. Yet, traveling around LA it’s hard not to feel the presence of Metro. It’s fleet of colorful buses are ubiquitous on every major city street. And unlike standard city buses, these buses aren’t dreary and dull. They boast vibrant colors like California poppy from a color palette inspired by the city. Metro also has a number of playful ads on billboards encouraging Angelinos to leave their cars at home and take the bus, rail or carpool.

A humourous way to promote public transport. Image courtesy of Metro & The City Fix.
Two different perspectives on public transport. Have you seen ads like the one on the left in KL? Which one do you identify with? Image courtesy of The City Fix.


As always, your thoughts on the ‘image’ of public transport are welcome.

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