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Customer Education and Awareness of On-Demand Mobility (2023)

Chapter: Chapter 2 - Literature Review

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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 2 - Literature Review." 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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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 2 - Literature Review." 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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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 2 - Literature Review." 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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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 2 - Literature Review." 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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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 2 - Literature Review." 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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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 2 - Literature Review." 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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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 2 - Literature Review." 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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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 2 - Literature Review." 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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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 2 - Literature Review." 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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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 2 - Literature Review." 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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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 2 - Literature Review." 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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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 2 - Literature Review." 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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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 2 - Literature Review." 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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9   Overview to On-Demand Mobility Services in Transit On-demand mobility services have proliferated during the past decade and integrated with public transit agencies in a variety of ways, providing new service options for transit customers that are distinctly different from traditional fixed route or demand-responsive services. Fixed route services (whether by rail, bus, or other modes) run on a set schedule and fixed stopping points for boardings and alightings by passengers. Demand-responsive transit services such as ADA paratransit or services in rural areas pick up passengers at requested addresses but typically require customers to make reservations a day or more in advance. Prior to on-demand mobility, some transit agencies created “call-and-ride” or “dial-a-ride” services that allowed customers to call transit dispatchers and request a ride on the day of their trip within a specified service area (typically between a half hour to a few hours prior to the trip pickup). Other transit agencies have developed flexible or deviated fixed route services that allow the bus to travel off the fixed route in specified areas to pick up customers at specified addresses. Distinctly, on-demand mobility enables customers to request a trip from the service provider spontaneously without requiring an advanced reservation; this is achieved through a digital platform to match customer requests for rides to vehicles available to provide the trip. Typically, on-demand mobility services use a smartphone application for customers to make trip requests; good services also provide additional options for customers to request trips such as calling in to a dispatch office (which uses a computer desktop concierge platform to make trip requests on behalf of the customer), texting in trip requests to the digital platform, or using a touchscreen kiosk at a key pickup point (Volinski, 2019). Capital Metropolitan Transit Authority (Capital Metro) in Austin, TX, found that senior customers using their microtransit service mostly used call-in options for booking trips (regardless of whether they owned a smartphone) (National Center for Mobility Management, 2018). Types of On-Demand Transit Services Transit agencies have entered into pilot agreements or contractual partnerships with TNCs, taxi companies, and technology companies with microtransit services in a variety of service options. Initially, these transit agencies tended to project manage these partnership agreements reactively and not specifically plan for activities such as customer education and outreach at the beginning of the project (Curtis et al., 2019); transit agencies have become savvier in proactively planning these activities after learning from previous experiences. Subsidy programs with TNCs and taxicabs allow customers to book directly with those providers and pay a portion of the fare cost for the trip (with transit agencies making up the remainder). Sometimes transit agencies have allowed a certain number of fare-free or reduced-fare trips on ride-hailing services during a promotional or interim period while special events or service adjustments are being made C H A P T E R 2 Literature Review

10 Customer Education and Awareness of On-Demand Mobility (Feigon and Murphy, 2016). First-mile/last mile services allow customers to take an on-demand service for the trip between a transit stop and their destination; sometimes this type of service is focused on late-night hours when fixed route operating hours or frequencies are reduced. Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority (LYNX) in Orlando, FL, specifically marketed their microtransit service as an extension of their fixed route system and timed connections in the service design to help transfers occur seamlessly (Volinski, 2019). Transit agencies have utilized private companies for microtransit service in new service areas, areas replacing previous transit service, or supplemental alternative services (for ADA paratransit-eligible customers); some transit agencies operate the microtransit service with their own vehicles, their own drivers, or both, using the digital platform of the technology company. Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) was one of the first transit agencies to engage in a microtransit pilot, during which the agency used their own branded vehicles and drivers on top of the partner’s digital platform (Feigon and Murphy, 2016); the partner was responsible for managing the app and user interface for the service (Lazarus, Shaheen, and Young, 2017). Branding On-Demand Transit Transit agencies have approached branding for on-demand service offerings in different ways. Often the service is given a distinct name to announce the service as new and different from other existing transit services, but in some cases the transit agency simply directs customers to use the existing TNC or taxicab company for their on-demand trips as part of the service design. Smartphone applications using the digital platform can either be white-labeled to incorporate the distinct service brand, or the service may be an option within the existing TNC or microtransit application. As part of this practice, transit agencies can work with their technology partner on improving search results for potential customers of white-label apps within the smartphone digital store (Hansen et al., 2018). Typically, on-demand mobility users are adults and are from more-affluent-than-average households, which can be different from typical transit customers depending on the characteristics of the urbanized or rural area. The differences in the technology features and service characteristics may present barriers to transit agencies trying to target their customers for utilizing a new on-demand service (Volinski, 2019). The remainder of this review discusses findings from existing literature and reports on transit agencies’ efforts to brand, market, and educate customers on their on-demand services. Importance of Customer Education and Awareness New on-demand mobility options can provide access to transit service in outlying communi- ties, particularly suburban and rural communities or places with lower frequencies of service. However, awareness of transit services is often lower in suburban and rural regions, making marketing of new on-demand transit services a challenge for agencies (Shurna and Schwieterman, 2020). In addition, shared mobility services have had issues successfully marketing to low-income communities, minority populations, and users with limited English proficiency; in particular, lack of outreach materials and resources in non-English languages makes on-demand services less accessible for those with limited proficiency (Shaheen et al., 2017). Outreach and training about how to use new pilot services can be critical for service adoption (Cevallos, 2020); efforts to market and educate customers about the service are not only important at the point of service launch but also while the service is continuing to operate. Many agencies have found word-of- mouth buzz about the service to be the best type of advertisement, which requires having positive experiences for customers and local stakeholders becoming champions of the service (Hansen et al., 2018). The Ireland Department of Transportation approached customer awareness issues of demand-responsive services in rural areas by developing local community leaders as board

Literature Review 11   members for the services to help increase familiarity and buy-in from the community (Chow et al., 2020). Older adults are another key population group that experiences challenges with knowing about and how to use on-demand services (Tooley et al., 2019; Volinski, 2019). As part of introducing these services, transit agencies can conduct targeted outreach to edu- cate customers about how to use the service and destinations that can be reached to counteract lack of awareness in the community. Increasing awareness of new services, particularly those that are not directly provided by the transit agency, can lead to increased service utilization and move toward mobility management goals (Feigon and Murphy, 2016). Customer educa- tion about the features of on-demand mobility can also help existing and potential customers understand the benefits and flexibility provided by these types of service options (Volinski, 2019). Customer education can also be critical for customers who are familiar with ride-hailing to understand the particular features of a given on-demand transit service (such as needing to share rides with strangers in the vehicle) (Chow et al., 2020). On-demand transit pilots have found that strategic and effective outreach efforts are needed to create awareness of the service in communities served to achieve ridership levels that will sustain/justify the service (Lazarus, Shaheen, and Young, 2017). Older Adults and Persons with Disabilities Because mobility on-demand pilots are sometimes targeted toward existing underserved population customer groups (National Center for Mobility Management, 2018), transit agencies aiming to effectively serve persons with disabilities and older adults may need to have specific awareness and education efforts tailored for these customer groups to help familiarize them with the service and overcome perceived barriers in comfort level with the service technology or riding in unfamiliar vehicle settings (Tooley et al., 2019; LaRosa and Bucalo, 2020). Acces- sibility of information is particularly important for these population groups; survey research with older adults about on-demand service options has found a strong relationship between awareness of service availability and respondents’ willingness to use the services (LaRosa and Bucalo, 2020). Some on-demand mobility services have a separate fleet of wheelchair-accessible vehicles (WAVs) for persons using wheelchairs or mobility scooters to be able to access the ser- vice. Transit agencies frequently find lower demand than expected for WAVs in the on-demand service, which may be due to a lack of awareness or lower comfort level with new service offer- ings from these customers (Shurna and Schwieterman, 2020). Pierce Transit took care to create awareness about WAV availability in its service partnership with a TNC, particularly because these vehicles could only be booked over the phone (National Center for Mobility Manage- ment, 2018). Issues with awareness of new services for older adults, persons with disabilities, and marginalized populations can also be systemic. For example, TNCs tend to reach existing customers through their own promotional channels in decentralized locations (compared to transit agencies), meaning they may not be able to reach underserved populations effectively (National Center for Mobility Management, 2018). Older adults may have a stronger need for the outreach process to be more relatable and a desire for in-person assistance than other transit customers (LaRosa and Bucalo, 2020). For paratransit customers, transit agencies may consider offering travel training to cus- tomers (similar to ADA paratransit travel training) to help them feel comfortable with using an on-demand service option; the City of Gainesville, FL, outsourced programming for travel training about its TNC subsidy program to educate older adults about using the smartphone app for trip planning and fare payment (LaRosa and Bucalo, 2020). Independent living centers and local social service organizations can be resources for transit agencies or TNCs in providing informa- tion about customer needs and assisting with developing travel training instruction programs (National Center for Mobility Management, 2018). In addition, using drivers for microtransit

12 Customer Education and Awareness of On-Demand Mobility service that are adept to the needs of persons with disabilities can also be a key for customer comfortability (Volinski, 2019). Direct Customer Outreach Direct outreach to customers is used by some agencies to not only make customers aware of the new service but help them sign up for the service once launched. Sacramento Regional Transit District (SacRT) staff reached out to existing paratransit customers about the new service option, and phone reservationists helped customers calling in to book paratransit trips become aware of the new service while answering their questions (Volinski, 2019). Big Blue Bus in Santa Monica, CA, scheduled one-on-one in-person meetings with their dial-a-ride customers to assist them in registering for their new service and demonstrating how to use it; the agency also offered subsidized TNC trips for customers traveling to and from these scheduled meet- ings (Curtis et al., 2019). Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) targeted customers of their reduced-fare program to sign up for the late-night on-demand service when these customers went to transit agency stores to renew their cards (Curtis et al., 2019). Capital Metro conducted group training sessions with customers to teach them how to use their microtransit service and help reduce demand for phone-based dispatching; the larger group sessions were also followed up by one-on-one sessions (Hansen et al., 2018). Literature recommends that transit agencies strategically plan for public outreach and educa- tion efforts before the new on-demand service is implemented. Building in staff time to conduct public outreach before implementation and marketing the new service once operations have begun are critical activities for success in creating initial awareness of the service and following through to grow awareness in the community (KFH Group, 2019). Stakeholders and Partners Identifying key stakeholders both within and outside the agency is also a part of planning for future on-demand service implementation that helps ensure success in spreading awareness about the new service. The steps for working with stakeholders may include (1) identifying individuals who have an interest in the service or who are critical for successful partnerships, (2) engaging elected officials, (3) identifying project champions, and (4) identifying a project manager to shepherd the process (KFH Group, 2019). Once the transit agency engages in a partnership agreement with a TNC or technology company, literature also states that it is important for transit agencies to exchange ideas and information on marketing efforts. These partnerships can include divvying up marketing responsibilities between the transit agency and the private company during the planning stages of the service and determining the types of marketing tools that each partner will use in their engagements with the community (Shurna and Schwieterman, 2020). Leveraging local partners to help raise awareness and promote the service is also found to be important in increasing awareness of the service. Transit agencies can use their existing net- works of local service organizations to promote the on-demand service at community events and deliver marketing materials to key activity centers, housing developments, or businesses close to the service area (Eno Center for Transportation, 2018). Marin Transit in Marin County, CA, worked with its paratransit coordinating council and local community organizations, including the YMCA and the Jewish Community Center, to promote their on-demand service (Shurna and Schwieterman, 2020). Solano County, CA, specifically targeted promotion of their on-demand pilot to employers in their business park area, meeting with employers who were interested in learning more information (Curtis et al., 2019). Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) in Columbus, OH, worked with companies in their microtransit service zone to set up in-person demonstrations with employees about how to use the service (Froman, 2019).

Literature Review 13   Positioning the Service Shurna and Schwieterman (2020) found that successful promotion of on-demand service includes positioning the service as part of the larger transit system rather than as a separate service or temporary initiative. The authors also write in their case study research that payment integration between transit services and co-branding with logos from all service partners help to better include the on-demand service as part of the transit agency; the report recommends that agencies publicize partnerships with TNCs that are linked to the transit system in order to improve public awareness. Rationale for Targeted Marketing and Engagement Targeted marketing and customer engagements help transit agencies identify the customer groups in need of the service and connect to those customers. NCHRP Report 832: State DOTs Connecting Specialized Transportation Users and Rides found that marketing plans created during the developmental stages of a program enable the agency to account for target audiences, identify strategies to reach those audiences, and plan for implementation of those strategies (Rodman et al., 2016). Goals of marketing plans may include educating customers, building support of certain user groups, identifying partners, and coordinating information with providers and others, depending on the agency. The marketing plans dictate the timing for implementing each strategy relative to the service launch point (Rodman et al., 2016). COTA found that a key to their microtransit program’s success was getting customers to first download the smartphone app and try the service at all (Froman, 2019). Via Transportation states that marketing strategies for on-demand transit services should include (1) directing “lifecycle-based marketing” to customers at different stages of use with the service, (2) segmenting customers into use cases and behaviors, (3) developing multiple marketing “touchpoints” to connect to customers, (4) using real-time data for quicker responsive messaging, and (5) developing referral systems for connecting to additional customers (Via Transportation, 2020). Organizational Structures and Goals Most larger transit agencies have specific departments or groups within their organization for planning, marketing, community engagement, customer experience, or related activities in outreach to the public. Some transit agencies experience institutional obstacles in implementing effective public outreach about on-demand services, including educational efforts about opera- tions and scheduling rides (Tooley et al., 2019). Cherriots in Salem, OR, developed a pilot project overview for their microtransit service to help staff across the agency learn about the new service being provided and involved their marketing and communications department with the planning and development of the service (Volinski, 2019). TCRP Research Report 204’s partnership check- list includes steps to kick off partnerships with restating motivations and goals for the service, as well as engaging marketing and outreach staff at the transit agency to design campaigns that are tailored toward intended service markets (Curtis et al., 2019). Effective Marketing and Outreach Limiting marketing materials to printed brochures and website information that is available but largely unknown can limit the ability of transit agencies to attract potential customers to new services. On-demand mobility services may require a higher level of literacy with technology for customers to make requests through smartphone application, and services may have rules for getting to and from the bus that are different from those that customers are used to with tradi- tional services (Eno Center for Transportation, 2018).

14 Customer Education and Awareness of On-Demand Mobility Eno Center for Transportation’s report on microtransit (2018) recommends that agencies invest in robust marketing and outreach efforts to raise awareness and understanding of on-demand services to all potential customers. Eno states that agencies should prioritize “local, on the ground marketing,” particularly at the launch period of the new microtransit service. In their first microtransit pilot, KCATA found that awareness of the service among potential customers in the service area was low and recognized a greater need to invest in targeted marketing to the community. Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) found that in-person education was the most effective marketing tool for raising awareness about their microtransit service (Eno Center for Transportation, 2018). Targeting mailers and materials to specific cus- tomers or key local businesses as well as distributing information materials at transit stops is also an effective practice for reaching potential customers (Eno Center for Transportation, 2018). Another key aspect of service awareness can be public participation and input into developing the on-demand service before it is planned by the transit agency. Some communities can be turned off at public outreach events if they are merely being informed about the service and not able to provide input about what the community members need in terms of service features and parameters. This effect can be particularly true if community outreach occurs as the last step of the process (and treated as merely a requirement) before the service launch (TransForm, 2017). Capital Metro in Austin, TX, developed their microtransit service as the result of customer feedback for new service solutions in places where fixed route service was reduced, conducting targeted outreach to older adult populations and households with low incomes (Hansen et al., 2018). Watkins et al. (2019) noted that transit agencies may need to guard against excessively spending resources toward marketing the private businesses of their partners in order to protect themselves against possible negative scrutiny. Service Goals and Customer Education Transit agencies may also have specific goals in mind for on-demand services that necessitate targeted marketing to certain customer or population groups. For example, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) had a service goal to build ridership by para- transit customers on their on-demand service as an alternative choice for the customers to taking trips on paratransit, looking to generate cost savings through shifting rides from one service to the other. The agency developed a subsidy promotional fare on the on-demand ser- vice for these customers to help address this goal (Curtis et al., 2019). Increasing app-based trip scheduling and decreasing phone call-ins for scheduling trips from customers may be another agency goal for on-demand service. Capital Metro’s community outreach plan for their microtransit service was designed to achieve service goals of increasing daily average rider- ship, reducing the number of requests for trips made by calling in, and expanding the audience for the service beyond paratransit customers (Hansen et  al., 2018). The Seattle Depart- ment of Transportation (SDOT) in Seattle, WA, developed a series of stakeholder meetings about mobility on-demand service that were focused on different topic areas and phased step- wise to first define the services needed, then analyze needs and activities for engagement with community stakeholders and determine access barriers along with subsequent potential solu- tions (Dawes and Parker, 2021). Prevalence and Practices in Marketing Roles In their case study research of transit partnerships with TNCs, Shurna and Schwieterman (2020) found that most transit agencies perform marketing activities for the on-demand service in-house rather than having them done by private partners, including developing marketing materials and promoting the new service. New service pilots can require clear communication

Literature Review 15   and engagement between different departments within transit agencies, which can make it more important for project managers of new services to foster good communication on different depart- ments’ roles and responsibilities (Eno Center for Transportation, 2018). Some agencies have developed specific marketing plans for their on-demand transit project. SacRT used a strategic marketing plan to determine its outreach process and steps used in its marketing and commu- nications actions for its microtransit service launch (Volinski, 2019). Dedicating specific staff members to outreach on on-demand projects is also a practice used by some agencies (such as PSTA) (Curtis et al., 2019). Outreach Roles of Service Partners Sometimes TNCs conduct their own external marketing separate from the transit agency for a new service, but transit agencies and their TNC partners can work together to assess their capabilities and combine efforts to reach intended targeted populations for service, particularly in the coordination in developing a clear marketing message (National Center for Mobility Management, 2018). TCRP Research Report 204 found that TNCs in partnership with transit agencies tended to prefer a co-marketing approach to customer engagement (Curtis et  al., 2019). Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) in Boston, MA, and Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) in Atlanta, GA, developed language in their con- tract agreements with TNCs on responsibilities by both parties to promote the on-demand ser- vice (National Center for Mobility Management, 2018; Curtis et al., 2019). The Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) in Cincinnati, OH, had a contractual agreement with a TNC that permitted the partner to review information in all transit agency press releases before they were issued (Curtis et al., 2019). Marketing Tasks of Partners Specific marketing tasks such as on-street promotional events or representatives tend to be delegated to the TNC partner if they are operating the service themselves. Some agencies do divvy up more responsibilities between the TNC partner and other local stakeholder organiza- tions for a comprehensive approach; community engagement in particular can be a specialty for community foundations or human service organizations. Capital Metro worked with senior centers in Austin, TX, to help as champions for promoting to and educating seniors about their microtransit service (National Center for Mobility Management, 2018). SacRT’s TNC service partners developed marketing materials for the on-demand service and used periodic email blasts to send news of events and promotions to potential customers (Curtis et al., 2019). Norwalk Transit partnered with restaurants and businesses to develop various promotions for their microtransit service and to help spread word of mouth about the program (Benedict and Hansen, 2019). Some research notes that an exchange of ideas and information for marketing activi- ties between partners was notable practice; the Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT) worked with their TNC partner to brainstorm marketing materials for clearer messaging to customers (Shurna and Schwieterman, 2020). The City of Centennial in Colorado worked with the local transportation management association to help market their on-demand service to the local business community (City of Centennial, Colorado, 2017). Practices in Branding and Media Channels Branding for on-demand transit services varies depending on the type of service, partners involved, and agency goals/preferences. Transit agencies frequently create a specific name/brand (such as “Flex” for microtransit services) for the on-demand service and include it as one of the available transit services on their website (Volinski, 2019). Branding can also include local

16 Customer Education and Awareness of On-Demand Mobility iconography or landmarks, distinct bus wraps, and color schemes for the on-demand service (Top Digital Agency, 2020); transit agencies may choose to market and brand portions of the service with WAVs separately if not all vehicles are wheelchair accessible (City of Centennial, Colorado, 2017). Many microtransit services with public transit agencies co-brand the service with logos of both the transit agency and the TNC partner (along with specific logos or names of the service) to show the service as part of the larger transit system (Shurna and Schwieterman, 2020). Co-branding takes advantage of the visibility of TNCs for potential customers who may not already use transit services (Feigon and Murphy, 2018). Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority (LAVTA) in California encountered some resistance from their TNCs and taxicab partners to have their company logos shown side by side on marketing materials, so the agency developed these materials on their own rather than relying on the partners (Curtis et al., 2019). Subsidy programs typically do not have a specific service brand on the TNC or taxicab vehicle, which may make the service less visible to the public. Alternative energy vehicle types used in on-demand services can also serve as a marketing feature to help generate additional attention during the service launch. Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) in Tampa, FL, added electric vehicles to the on-demand fleet as part of their microtransit pilot (Volinski, 2019). Use of Media Channels Transit agencies may use a variety of techniques and media outlets to market on-demand services. Press releases or newspaper articles featuring the on-demand service are traditional mechanisms to announce new service to the community; agencies can also work with existing community organizations to put announcements about a new service in their newsletters (City of Centennial, Colorado, 2017). Transit agencies frequently hang or post physical signs at transit stations or bus stops about the new services, and mailers with information on the service sent directly to residents in the service area are also an approach with physical media (Shurna and Schwieterman, 2020). Sending out new waves of mailers during periods of low ridership is also a practice used by some transit agencies and partners to help increase awareness of a service (City of Centennial, Colorado, 2017). Distributing copies of outreach sessions or service information within vehicles for other transit services, including using infographics to demonstrate how to use the service, is another way to encourage customers to learn and provide input on on-demand mobility (Volinski, 2019). Web pages on the transit agency website that are specific to the on-demand service can detail specific information on how to book a trip, service span, places served, and other service features (KFH Group, 2019). Transit agencies can also make information about the service available in other non-English languages prevalent in their service area as well as information in large-print formats or braille for persons with visual disabilities (National Center for Mobility Management, 2018; Volinski, 2019). TCRP Research Report 204 found that the most common marketing methods from transit agency respondents were information through agency websites, social media, and local news media, as shown Figure 2 (Curtis et al., 2019). Promotion and Advertisements Promotional videos are a newer mechanism for transit agencies to share information on new service in a non-static, exciting manner beyond the printed word and can be a tool to visually show customers how to navigate smartphone applications, book and plan their trips, and locate dynamic stop points for some service designs. The City of Arlington in Arlington, TX, promoted their microtransit service with a series of online videos that included participation from local officials (KFH Group, 2019). Pierce Transit also created an online demonstration video to market the service and provide travel training instruction for their on-demand service (National Center for Mobility Management, 2018). In-person events in the community are also used by some agencies to market the service at or following the launch of the service to help generate media

Literature Review 17   Source: Curtis et al., 2019, p. 123. Note: TNC = transportation network company. Figure 2. From TCRP Research Report 204, Survey Question: How has your transit agency marketed or promoted the partnership/collaboration? coverage about the service. Some transit agencies have also used ambassadors at transit stations to help answer questions about upcoming service changes and explain how the new on-demand service works (Volinski, 2019). Traditional and newer types of advertisements are also used with some frequency by transit agencies to promote the services. Radio and television advertisements may be developed by the transit agency to announce the new service; advertisements in other venues such as movie theaters (played before film trailers) have also been used by transit agencies (Volinski, 2019). More fre- quently, transit agencies have turned to advertisements on social media and web streaming plat- forms as well (Shurna and Schwieterman, 2020); this can include geotargeted digital advertising (Eno Center for Transportation, 2018). Physical advertisements at bus stops and transit centers are an easy way to take advantage of advertising on transit property, and some agencies even take out billboard ads to spread awareness of the service in the community. Marketing directly to local employers located in the service area can be another effective tool to raise awareness to potential customers (Eno Center for Transportation, 2018). Types and Factors of Customer Education In-person educational events or organized staff efforts can be particularly effective in raising aware- ness and willingness to use on-demand services, allowing one-on-one interaction to demonstrate use of the service and answering specific customer questions; VTA found in-person education to be the most effective marketing tool for their microtransit service (Eno Center for Transpor- tation, 2018). Some transit agencies also include giveaways and interactive games/activities at in-person events to help attract people to attend (Volinski, 2019). Street teams that engage with people on the ground can also bring awareness to potential customers who did not know about the service beforehand; some TNCs have developed street teams to be available at or during the

18 Customer Education and Awareness of On-Demand Mobility beginning of the launch period of a service with a transit partner. Staff on the street can talk to people about the service to help answer questions from potential customers and hand out promo- tional cards for discounted or free rides (Hansen et al., 2018). Transit agencies and their partners can also take advantage of other events in their area (such as concerts, conferences, and sporting events) to promote the availability of on-demand services (Feigon and Murphy, 2018). During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, transit agencies were unable to do in-person events or meetings with customers. Bay Area Transportation Authority (BATA) in Traverse City, MI, instead conducted virtual town hall meetings, mailed postcards to customers, and had bus operators tell customers about their upcoming microtransit service launch (Shared- Use Mobility Center, 2020b). Marin Transit in Marin County, CA, utilized online “e-blasts” to customers signed up for community newsletters and push notifications through their TNC partner’s app to help market messages about the service (in addition to other printed and online media sources) (Shared-Use Mobility Center, 2020a). Fares and Incentives Fare structures and incentives can also play a role in educating customers about on-demand services. Having the same fare structure and payment methods as other existing services is helpful in minimizing confusion for customers (Volinski, 2019; Cevallos, 2020). Some transit agencies have used temporary promotional fare rates or a limited number of initial free rides to help encourage customers to try an on-demand service for the first time; Alameda Contra Costa Transit (AC Transit) developed a month-long promotional free ride offer for customers to try their microtransit service and spread the word about the promotion through mail-outs in the service area and additional outreach efforts (Eno Center for Transportation, 2018). SacRT distributed complimentary passes as part of informational brochures distributed to the community, and Cherriots operated their microtransit service fare-free for the first 6 months of operation to encourage ridership (Volinski, 2019). SORTA’s TNC partner made 20 percent discount codes available to first-time riders of the service, but this discount was not available to users who already had an account with the TNC (Curtis et al., 2019). WMATA provided a limited-time fare discount on their on-demand service for their paratransit customers, subsidized up to the first $20 of their trips (Curtis et al., 2019). Technology Capabilities Partners can also play a role in pushing promotional incentives for services through their smartphone applications. Mechanisms for customer engagement within the app allow for direct communication with users of the service and an additional channel for feedback and ratings of service to the agency (Shaheen et al., 2017). For example, ride-hailing providers in partnership with LAVTA notified users of promotions through in-app messaging; the unfortunate conse- quence for the transit agency was that this method did not provide them with information on effectiveness on the promotion. On the other hand, Pierce Transit decided against permitting in-app messaging by their TNC partner in order to guard against a potential influx of new customers that the project would not be able to handle (Curtis et al., 2019). Marketing and Awareness Goals and Timelines A transit agency’s goals and principles for marketing and communication with the public can also factor into the awareness and ultimate utilization of the service. For example, the Regional Transportation District in Denver, CO, uses a principle of marketing microtransit service zones

Literature Review 19   for either commuting to work or school trips, depending on the characteristics and trip attrac- tors of the community being served (Volinski, 2019). External advertising firms are sometimes hired by transit agencies for specific pilots or programs; Norwalk Transit hired a local adver- tising firm to develop the brand and marketing for their on-demand service, which ultimately angled their microtransit service as a TNC-like travel option combining aspects of advanced technology and familiarity for customers (Benedict and Hansen, 2019). Service Adjustments A benefit of on-demand mobility is the ability to quickly adjust service parameters in the digital platform (such as changes to geofenced areas, service hours, or fare and eligibility rates). Some agencies have adjusted service parameters or scaled up service availability for their on-demand service after the initial service launch based on market analyses and findings from promotional effects (KFH Group, 2019). Charlotte Area Transit System in Charlotte, NC, extended the pilot period of their on-demand service after determining that more time was needed for marketing strategies to take effect in the community for improving service utiliza- tion (Shurna and Schwieterman, 2020). Continuing Engagement Transit agencies may also structure marketing activities with the on-demand service in phases to have waves of different marketing types and reach customers at different points in the service period. Pierce Transit in Pierce County, WA, had a three-phase campaign that started with physical media and grew to include social media advertisements on various platforms (Shurna and Schwieterman, 2020). TCRP Synthesis 141 found that conducting public outreach efforts about the service before, during, and after implementation is useful in making service adjust- ments based on changes in demand as customers have increased awareness and comfort levels with the service (Volinski, 2019). People who are engaged during early public outreach efforts can be a valuable resource of continued information over subsequent months of service opera- tion if the transit agency conducts follow-up outreach with those customers (National Center for Mobility Management, 2018). Literature finds fewer examples of transit agencies that did outreach following the end of an on-demand service pilot, although some agencies did conduct follow-up outreach on service quality and effectiveness to customers. VTA conducted surveys before and after their micro- transit pilot to their customers (including non-riders of the microtransit service) to learn about use and perceptions of the service (Eno Center for Transportation, 2018). DDOT conducted outreach to customers responding to advertisements from the agency to learn why they did or did not use their late-night ride-hailing service; the agency was able to compare service utilization between users by capturing phone numbers of customers who requested the promotional code from the transit agency to use with the TNC partner (Shurna and Schwieterman, 2020). Shaheen et al. (2017) recommend that community engagement efforts from agencies be part of an ongoing process for developing and operating on-demand services, including before and after surveys to customers, community meetings, public hearings, and web-based crowdsourcing tools. Research and Reports on Marketing Effectiveness Reports on the effectiveness of marketing and education campaigns to on-demand transit services remain mixed and inconclusive. Some agencies reported increases in service rider- ship following their campaigns. However, the Watkins et al. study (2019) found that marketing

20 Customer Education and Awareness of On-Demand Mobility service was not particularly effective for increasing ridership (particularly compared to provid- ing higher levels of service to customers). Miah et al. (2020) noted that studies of service costs for transit agencies should include any marketing or incentive costs for on-demand trips as part of the cost analysis. Other findings were as follows: • The DDOT found that improvements to the language in their marketing materials (working together with their TNC partner) resulted in an increase in ridership of a late-night ride- hailing service (Shurna and Schwieterman, 2020). • Marin Transit found that their work with community networks in promotion activities was effective in increasing awareness of their on-demand service (Shurna and Schwieterman, 2020). • In a post-pilot evaluation, VTA found that in-person education and promotional free rides were the effective marketing tools that increased awareness and got people to try the new service. VTA also identified needs for more information on how to use the service and a larger marketing budget to improve success of future projects (Eno Center for Transpor- tation, 2018). • PSTA found that ridership for their Direct Connect service tripled after in-person outreach for the program was conducted by their TNC partner (Curtis et al., 2019). PSTA did not have user surveys as part of the service, which limited their ability to assess other project goals (Committee for the Role of Public Transportation and Mobility Management in an Era of New and Expanding Shared Mobility, 2021). • The City of Centennial reported spending approximately a third of their on-demand pilot project costs on implementation, marketing, and evaluation; $710 of the pilot cost was on print collateral and logistics for an in-person event (out of $129,000 in total costs). The city found that additional marketing to residents before the launch of the service would have helped with higher community awareness; in a survey conducted about their first-and-last mile service, 97 percent of people at the connecting transit station did not know about the service when it launched. Additional marketing over the course of the pilot increased awareness of the service, but residents still needed more education on how to use it (City of Centennial, Colorado, 2017). Summary of Literature Review Key Findings This section provides a summary of key findings from the literature review: • Branding for on-demand services is typically approached by providing a distinct name for the service and showcasing the service as a new mobility option distinct from other existing transit offerings. • Most transit agencies perform the majority of marketing and outreach activities for the on-demand service in-house; some agencies work with partners to determine roles and respon- sibilities between parties through contractual terms. • Many service/technology partners have marketing templates and resources available that can be customized for the transit agency’s on-demand service; some of these companies also provide periodic staff support to assist with in-person customer education. • Transit agencies may also work other local stakeholder organizations to help spread the word about and champion the on-demand service to customers; these relationships are typi- cally informal (rather than contractual). • Transit agencies use a variety of media materials and channels to market on-demand services, from print media and press releases, posters and mail-outs, and online information and video demonstrations; sometimes billboards and commercial advertisements are used as well.

Literature Review 21   • In-person events and engagements are frequently cited as the most effective customer educa- tion methods for raising awareness about the service and teaching customers how to sign up and take trips. • Relatedly, the COVID-19 pandemic made customer outreach and engagement a challenge for transit agencies, particularly for those launching new services. Agencies pivoted to online engagement, callouts, and mailers for outreach during this period, although these methods were found to be not as effective as in-person events. • Most transit agencies focus on marketing and outreach for a new on-demand service around the launch period; fewer agencies conduct continuous outreach and customer education as the service continues, likely due to limited resources. • Performance measurement of marketing and customer education activities tends to be focused on ridership and rider retention following the first trip on the on-demand service; relatively little literature was found on other types of success measurement, such as meeting agency goals or customer acquisition costs.

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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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