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Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Customer Education and Awareness of On-Demand Mobility. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26862.
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Page 1
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Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Customer Education and Awareness of On-Demand Mobility. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26862.
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Page 2
Page 3
Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Customer Education and Awareness of On-Demand Mobility. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26862.
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1   Transit agencies or other government entities that develop on-demand services with trans- portation network companies (TNCs), taxicabs, or microtransit companies aim to improve mobility options in the community or perhaps for specific underserved population groups. However, launching new on-demand services that are different from typical fixed route or demand-responsive routes can lead to issues in customer awareness of the service or comfort level with using it for travel. Without connections to customers that facilitate communica- tion about on-demand transit services or subsidy programs, the success of these services can be limited and may perhaps ultimately not be sustained after initial pilot periods. Instead, transit agencies can approach customer education and awareness of their on-demand services through planning and working with partners to determine the marketing and communication tools that are possible along with the most effective ways to message the service and connect to current or potential customer groups. Using relationships with community stakeholders and organizations is also important in spreading awareness of the service to populations that may be hard to reach with traditional media channels. Transit agencies also have a need for understanding how well their marketing and outreach efforts are accomplishing the desired outcomes, meaning that goal setting, data, and performance measurement factor into this process as well. In addition, marketing and outreach efforts may need to evolve as on-demand services move beyond pilot/initial phases and become permanent services or impact new populations. As resources for operating or administering transit service tighten, budgeting for marketing activities and having continued engagement activities past the service launch can also be a challenge for agencies. This synthesis research aims to provide information discovered about how transit agencies and other local government entities approach marketing, customer education, and engage- ment efforts to improve awareness and utilization of their on-demand transit services. The research looks at benefits and challenges in marketing and customer education efforts and different approaches used by transit agencies; these can include various types of media materials and advertising, in-person events and street team education, division of roles and respon- sibilities between partners, and data and technology tools in marketing or assessment. The report also highlights how transit agencies work with the service/technology partners in their on-demand services or the local organizations in these marketing and customer education approaches. This study focuses on these topics with respect to on-demand transit services or subsidy programs using TNCs, taxis, or microtransit companies. The synthesis study was conducted in three phases: (1) a literature review of existing research and reports about on-demand mobility and marketing/customer education, (2) an online survey targeting transit agencies and government entities with identified on-demand S U M M A R Y Customer Education and Awareness of On-Demand Mobility

2 Customer Education and Awareness of On-Demand Mobility transit pilots/services, and (3) case examples of agencies with notable practices for further investigation. The survey questions and case examples guided discussions on marketing, branding, and customer education/outreach efforts related to on-demand agencies and work with project partners for those efforts. After the survey analysis was completed, the study team invited several responding agencies with identified notable practices to participate as case examples. Literature Review The literature review found that marketing and customer education efforts related to on-demand services at transit agencies tend to be focused (for the most part) on the launch of the service. Service/technology companies involved in the on-demand service often play key roles in developing marketing materials, advertising the service themselves, and attending/ organizing events in the community; local partner organizations can also be useful for con- necting with key population groups of interest. Agencies can struggle with connecting to targeted population groups such as older adults and low-income households, particularly if these people are not already using transit or are unfamiliar with the technology. The literature review found relatively few examples of results being measured or the level of benefit from marketing and customer education efforts being identified. Survey Questionnaire and Case Examples For the survey task, the study team developed a questionnaire that was subsequently emailed to 87 transit agencies or other local government entities. The survey respondents provided information on their experiences with on-demand services, challenges, and lessons learned from marketing and customer education activities. After the survey analysis, the following responding agencies participated in further case example research: • Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Los Angeles, CA) • Hall Area Transit (Gainesville, GA) • Bay Area Transportation Authority (Traverse City, MI) • City of Jersey City (Jersey City, NJ) • King County Metro (Seattle, WA) Lessons Learned These agencies provided several lessons learned from their experiences in customer education and marketing of on-demand transit services. Some of the key lessons learned include the following: • To be successful, marketing and customer education efforts should continue following the service launch. • It is important to be proactive in connecting with potential customers to improve rider retention. • Marketing work is best when tailored to specific customer audiences. • Safety considerations (e.g., the COVID-19 pandemic) can influence the effectiveness of marketing and outreach campaigns. • Some customers respond best to in-person communication and demonstrations (when available and appropriate).

Summary 3   • Planning ahead on budgets, resources, and staff/partner roles throughout the project is ideal. • Maintaining ongoing collaboration and communication with project partners and com- munity stakeholders leads to better success in building awareness and buy-in to the service. • Leveraging available data and resources from service/technology partners is a valuable tool for decision making and saving staff effort. Based on this synthesis project, the study team determined that additional research and guidelines were needed to help transit agencies better engage in effective marketing and customer education activities. Some of the needs identified include justification for ongoing engagement over the life of the service or after the service has concluded, performance mea- surement tools and practices tied to marketing, processes for measuring customer acquisi- tion costs for types of customers, effectiveness of different types of budgeting for marketing and customer education, specific language on marketing and outreach in agency agree- ments, and evolution of marketing and outreach goals over the life of on-demand services.

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For transit agencies launching new on-demand services that are different from typical fixed route or demand-responsive routes, there can be issues in customer awareness of the service or comfort level with using it for travel.

The TRB Transit Cooperative Research Program's TCRP Synthesis 165: Customer Education and Awareness of On-Demand Mobility documents current practices in how on-demand services are marketed to various rider groups, including outreach to persons with disabilities, older adults, and marginalized populations.

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