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

Chapter: Chapter 4 - Case Examples

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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - Case Examples." 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 4 - Case Examples." 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 4 - Case Examples." 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 4 - Case Examples." 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 4 - Case Examples." 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 4 - Case Examples." 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 4 - Case Examples." 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 4 - Case Examples." 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 4 - Case Examples." 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 4 - Case Examples." 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 4 - Case Examples." 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 4 - Case Examples." 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 4 - Case Examples." 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 4 - Case Examples." 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 4 - Case Examples." 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 4 - Case Examples." 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 4 - Case Examples." 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 4 - Case Examples." 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 4 - Case Examples." 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 4 - Case Examples." 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 4 - Case Examples." 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 4 - Case Examples." 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 4 - Case Examples." 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 4 - Case Examples." 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 4 - Case Examples." 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 4 - Case Examples." 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 4 - Case Examples." 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 4 - Case Examples." 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 4 - Case Examples." 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 4 - Case Examples." 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 4 - Case Examples." 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 4 - Case Examples." 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 4 - Case Examples." 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 4 - Case Examples." 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 4 - Case Examples." 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 4 - Case Examples." 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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32 is chapter reviews the experiences of marketing and customer education eorts at transit agencies and cities. e study team conducted case example follow-ups with ve respondents to the project survey that reported robust or eective marketing programs for their on-demand services, unique practices in customer education, and collaboration with their service/technology partners or local organizations. Figure 12 shows a map of the case example agency/city locations in the United States; two case examples focus on large metropolitan transit authorities, two case examples focus on small transit agencies in suburban or rural areas, and one case example focuses on a city in a large metropolitan area. e case examples contain information from dif- ferent service/technology partners working with the public entity for the on-demand service; the mentions of these partners and their services are provided for further context and not intended to be an endorsement of any private company. e study team interviewed sta members at the participating agencies/cities to learn more about their eorts and gather supplemental informa- tion from that provided in the survey answers. C H A P T E R 4 Case Examples Figure 12. Map of case example agencies.

Case Examples 33   Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority Mode Unlinked Passenger Trips Vehicles Operated at Maximum Service Heavy Rail: B Line (Red), D Line (Purple) 33,668,265 68 Light Rail: A Line (Blue), C Line (Green), E Line (Expo), L Line (Gold) 42,098,255 203 Bus: Metro Bus, L Line (Gold) Shuttle 222,178,869 1,918 Bus Rapid Transit: G Line (Orange), J Line (Silver) 5,398,482 26 Vanpool: Metro Vanpool 2,563,168 1,267 Source: Federal Transit Administration, 2022b. Table 1. Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority key operating statistics by mode. Service Area Total Unlinked Passenger Trips On-Demand Service Type(s) On-Demand Service Period On-Demand Service Budget 1,469 sq. mi. 305,907,039(NTD, 2020) Microtransit; 8 service zones 2020–present $40 million Note: NTD = National Transit Database. The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro) is the public transportation provider for Los Angeles County, CA, and a significant provider of public trans- portation services in the City of Los Angeles, CA. The agency was created by California state law to oversee funding and coordination of all public transportation services within the county. LA Metro is also the tax authority and implementation agency for transit-related sales tax mea- sures (CALCOG, 2022). Table 1 presents data for each travel mode for LA Metro reported to the National Transit Database (NTD), including unlinked passenger trips and vehicles operated in maximum service (Federal Transit Administration, 2022b). Data for the microtransit pilot project (MTP), which operates Metro Micro, are not included in the 2020 NTD data set due to the service being a pilot program. Complementary ADA paratransit services are provided by Access Services, which is separate from LA Metro (Access Services, 2022). LA Metro was chosen as a case example because of their work in developing a customer-centric on-demand service and customer-specific marketing campaigns, as well as their experience in measuring customer acquisition costs for on-demand service. LA Metro has reported significant successes in its initial 18 months of revenue service operations, and the agency’s approach to Metro Micro marketing and customer education is distinctive from standard industry practices. On-Demand Mobility Services Overview LA Metro’s on-demand programming began in 2017 with the establishment of the New Mobility business unit in the Office of Extraordinary Innovation. The two pilots were the Mobility on Demand (MOD) pilot service, funded by an FTA MOD sandbox grant, and the MTP pilot for Metro Micro (Miller et al., 2021). The MOD pilot service was intended to provide first-mile/ last-mile connections. At the same time, LA Metro staff developed MTP as a hybrid public–private on-demand mobility service, which would eventually become Metro Micro (also referred to as Micro). In response to a request for proposals (RFP) released in 2017, three private-sector transit planning and operator teams were selected to provide Micro service in different zones. The agency designed the industry’s first pre-development agreement public–private partnership (PDA-P3). The agreement tool was developed to allow for rapid project design iterations and to support risk sharing between public and private partners. In Part A of the design, contracts were awarded to the initial three teams that provided Micro service concurrently for approximately

34 Customer Education and Awareness of On-Demand Mobility 1.5 years; LA Metro’s intention was for the teams to compete to discover how to provide the most effective and efficient version of Micro. In Part B of operations, LA Metro moved forward and awarded the contract to the RideCo team (which has agreements with other subcontractors). The agency has begun to go out for bid on Micro service again once the current contract ends. According to the agency, Metro Micro is intended to achieve three goals: 1. Provide a cost-effective transit service that customers love. 2. Invest in new technology. 3. Change the culture of transit in Los Angeles. The current version of Micro service, which covers a service area of 165 square miles, was launched in December 2020. Micro operates in eight zones (depicted in Figure 13), and the intro- ductory fare is $1 per one-way ride (the agency noted that the fare rate might increase after the COVID-19 pandemic is over). The Metro Micro staff comprise 170 employees, 159 of which are the frontline team and 20 of which are the Micro Leadership Team (MLT). Micro’s annual oper- ating budget is $40 million using a fleet consisting of 82 vehicles (some of which are wheelchair accessible and electric) (Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, 2021). Metro Micro served 327,059 trips between December 2020 (launch) and March 2022 (Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, 2022b). According to the agency, Metro Micro delivered more than half a million trips (503,611) for the region in FY 2022. Under the current PDA-P3 contract model, the most commonly used vehicle in the Metro Micro fleet is a Ford Transit 150 minivan (Descant, 2020). Vehicle features include USB ports, comfortable seats, and six cameras from which Metro Micro staff can view a live feed to ensure safe service delivery. The cameras provide accountability for transit operators and also improve passengers’ perceptions of the safety of the service. LA Metro leases the vehicles, and the work- force are LA Metro employees with partial representation by unions. Operators use tablets and agency-issued phones for communications during the service period. Internal Processes and Planning The Metro Micro business unit is part of LA Metro’s Operations Department; this business unit was initially part of the Office of Extraordinary Innovation and transitioned prior to pre- revenue service operations. Micro staff liaise with LA Metro’s key business units, including Public Relations and Marketing in the Communications Department. In Micro’s early days, Metro Communications joined the role in Micro marketing. When development of Micro marketing collateral was completed, the Metro Micro business unit absorbed the leadership role for marketing and customer education. Planning and design for Micro took 3 years, in part due to expansive efforts to understand cus- tomer needs and develop the brand and product, as well as efforts to figure out how to merge public-sector and private-sector capabilities. Micro staff worked closely with the Aging & Disability Network at the beginning to learn about customer needs and get their input on fleet selection and features to be used for Micro. LA Metro also worked with the community to get input on the name as part of LA Metro’s family of services. Originally, each Micro zone was designed for specific use cases (i.e., specific markets and types of trips) and functioned as test cases for possible expansion (during the COVID-19 pandemic, all use cases transitioned to providing access). Some zones had additional purposes; for example, the original Watts/Willowbrook zone encompassed one of the most underserved areas of the county, and LA Metro wanted to provide service there to increase residents’ access to opportu- nities by focusing on moving children to schools in the initial Watts/Compton zone. LA Metro further wanted to introduce the newest transit innovations in that area to reinforce the idea that investing in transit service in that community is important.

Case Examples 35   Source: Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, 2022a. Figure 13. Metro Micro service zones.

36 Customer Education and Awareness of On-Demand Mobility Partnerships With respect to marketing and outreach, the vendor supplements what Micro staff do by sub- contracting specialists (including Ready Artwork, Arellano Associates, and Proforma) to pro- vide support. These communications vendors lead the design of the Micro website, conduct pop-up informational sessions at stations, print vehicle wraps, and so forth. LA Metro believed that contracting out these functions would offer fresh insights. Having a marketing officer work with LA Metro throughout the process helps align the vehicle experience for Micro while matching those expectations with Metro Micro. LA Metro will continue to refine this role with a direct team of specialists as the customer experience continues to evolve. The agency may also pursue working with a marketing firm that is used to working with big companies and selling other products to provide additional perspec- tives and techniques to marketing Micro service. Agency Marketing Efforts Metro Micro marketing includes commercial media, social media, print collateral, and digital ads. Metro Micro’s marketing philosophy includes the following principles: • Customers should know what Micro service looks and feels like before they actually see and experience it. When the three contractors were operating Micro service concurrently, Micro staff asked them to build a marketing campaign about what Micro felt like—about the specific experience that riders would have every time they use the service—before sending out mailers and advertising on billboards. Micro staff also used a purposefully selected pop song to help convey what the Metro Micro user experience is like to customers. • Micro is branded and marketed as being as much a part of the LA Metro “family” as the fixed route bus and rail services. • Micro service should be “hyperlocalized” and “authentic.” Customers should know their operators. • Customer concerns should be resolved quickly and directly. If a Micro customer indicates on the Micro website or app that they are unhappy with a trip, an email is sent to Micro’s senior director, who often calls riders directly to follow up. Table  2 shows the previous and current marketing budgets for Metro Micro. Overall, $3 million is budgeted for communications campaigns over 2 years; $2 million of this budget is for subcontractors marketing activities under the PDA-P3 contract, plus $300,000 budgeted for ad campaigns. LA Metro’s approach to marketing Micro has changed over time. For example, throughout the service launch in the COVID-19 pandemic, strategies planned around in-person contact had to be scrapped and more reliance had to be placed on digital staff. The digital component of the Micro marketing campaign ended up being twice as intense as planned; accordingly, app On-Demand Service Marketing Campaign Budget Marketing Campaign Time Frame MOD pilot (original) $250,000 2 years Metro Micro (current) $3 million $2 million over 2 years for the subcontractors plus $1 million over 2 years in-house Source: Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, 2022b. Note: MOD = Mobility on Demand. Table 2. Marketing budget for Metro Micro.

Case Examples 37   downloads occurred faster than expected. Metro Micro now has in-person contacts for customer education activities as originally envisioned, including rail station campaigns for customers. LA Metro’s approaches to Micro marketing in specific zones were developed with mindfulness about the specific issues applying to each zone. The agency used different tactics in different zones, to the extent that the pandemic would allow zone-specific marketing plans to be implemented as planned. For example, marketing for the Highland Park/Eagle Rock/Glendale zone was designed around the retail activities available in the area. Micro staff indicated that they are still in the process of learning what works well with marketing the service. Micro is marketed as “part of the LA Metro family,” not as a service operated by another provider. When Micro consolidated to use a sole contractor for all of the zones, customers in zones previously operated by other contractors had to learn to recognize the new branding scheme on different vehicles. Staff indicate that having a consistent brand has pros and cons; as a positive, consistent branding contributes to the “family” experience that staff want to achieve. Agency Customer Education Efforts Micro customer education efforts have included travel training, how-to-ride videos, print col- lateral, and workshops or other events. Micro staff have conducted travel training specifically for older adults, working with the Aging & Disability Network to help determine the training needs. The COVID-19 pandemic has limited what staff have been able to accomplish for in-person engage- ment to date, although the agency hopes to conduct more in-person events as safety allows. Agency-Enhanced Participation Efforts Enhanced participation methods used by Micro include referrals, mobile app push notifica- tions, and incentives/reward systems. One Micro marketing campaign involved Metro Micro employees giving random riders $5 value cards to pass on to their friends to use on Micro trips, hoping to generate word-of-mouth marketing to grow ridership. LA Metro aims to provide an on-demand service that has a high level of customer satisfaction. In 18 months of service, Micro has maintained a 4.8 average star rating for trips (on a 5-star rating scale); the transit agency considers this to be a result of investing in people and setting up the right culture for success. LA Metro uses a multifaceted set of customer-oriented performance indicators for Metro Micro. Customer retention is a key measure for Micro service, but the agency has found it chal- lenging to meet demand with the current levels of staffing and vehicles. The agency is also in the process of implementing an analytical approach to understand its costs to acquire and keep Micro customers (previously paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic). The sets of performance indicators of Micro are shown in Table 3 and Figure 14. Communications Methods Micro is officially a pilot program, so the program can be modified as needed without going through formal notice processes. Micro staff have modified service hours, service days, and service zones based on community feedback and feedback received from operators. Micro staff believe that any customer concerns about the service should be resolved quickly and directly. When feedback is received (e.g., through write-in comments or clicking a sad face icon in the digital platform), the Micro staff vet it internally and act on it immediately. The agency aims to address the concerns of the most aggrieved customers as part of addressing community feedback and improving the service. The website serves as a critical tool and provides dedicated email addresses staffed by the MLT.

38 Customer Education and Awareness of On-Demand Mobility Level KPIs Measure Target October 2021 March 2022 Zone- Level Ridership Passengers per vehicle per hour 3 2.55 2.97 Customer Experience Average number of trips per week on Micro by unique users 3 3.3 3.2 Percentage of trips with maximum wait time of 15 minutes 75% 51% 70% Percentage of excess demand (no ride available) <10% 9.40% 33.40% On-time performance: percentage of pickups/drop- offs after promised time (10-minute window) 75% -- 64.01% Project- Level Innovation Launch 6 service zones testing a variety of use cases 6 8 8 Percentage of flexible operators per SMART-TD side letter 90% 10% 31% Customer Experience Star rating from customer in Metro Micro mobile applications (completed rides) 4.5 of 5 stars 4.80 4.85 Strategic Partnerships Number of partnerships with health, transport, and higher education institutions 2 per zone 1 5 Workforce Investment Percentage of Micro operators promotion to full- time positions throughout Metro 5% 2.2% 4.8% Percentage of Micro operators who stay on project for more than 1 year 50% -- 51.9% Note: -- = not available. KPIs = key performance indicators; SMART-TD = Sheet Metal, Air Rail Transportation, Transportation Division. Source: Adapted from Operations, Safety, and Customer Experience Committee board report (Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, 2022b). Table 3. Metro Micro key performance indicators and measures. Source: Operations, Safety, and Customer Experience Committee board report. Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, 2022b. Figure 14. Customer experience metrics.

Case Examples 39   Summary LA Metro makes adjustments to the messaging and communications for its microtransit service based on the needs of each community in the service zones and customer feedback that is received on ways to improve Micro. The agency invests in marketing and customer education as part of its budgeting for the on-demand service, while working to determine what roles and responsi- bilities in marketing are most appropriate to be conducting in-house versus with their service/ technology partner or other firms. Key Challenges • Meeting Demand. Micro ridership has grown rapidly (exceeding forecasts established by the budget office), and continuing to meet demand is a significant challenge. Micro is planning to double the number of operators in the next fiscal year, although this could be challenging given industrywide operator shortages. This affects how Micro staff choose to conduct further marketing activities for the service. • Overcoming Safety Concerns. Conducting in-person marketing during the pandemic was a challenge, as was encouraging the community to get into a Micro vehicle with strangers during a pandemic. In-person engagement has continued to improve when lulls have occurred between heightened safety periods. Notable Practices • Visioning. LA Metro’s vision for Micro service is highly customer-centric and localized. The agency committed significant time and budget to planning a service that would meet community needs. This remains an ongoing effort, with assembly of an auxiliary working group led by the MLT. • Performance Measurement. The agency uses KPIs to track the success of marketing cam- paigns for Micro as well as the service overall. Ridership numbers and user ratings have helped indicate the level of success in achieving goals. • Budget and Staffing. LA Metro has committed significant resources to operating and marketing Micro. Micro staff have enough resources to develop and implement customer-centric and localized marketing and customer education initiatives. Lessons Learned • Establishing Partnerships. Micro staff indicated that merging the public and private sectors to deliver Micro service was a far more complicated process than expected. LA Metro’s approach was helpful in figuring out how to structure Micro, although this approach might not work for other agencies. Partnerships will continue to be improved upon within the current pilot period and beyond. • Scaling. Some private-sector entities who operate in the on-demand transit sphere might not be fully ready for public-sector scaling in a service area as large as LA Metro’s. For example, contractors might not be able to deliver marketing at the same level as a full-service advertising agency. As such, direct procurements can work with marketing specialists for developing communications and marketing functions as part of delivering an on-demand product. Hall Area Transit Service Area Total Unlinked Passenger Trips On-Demand Service Type(s) On-Demand Service Period On-Demand Service Budget 361 sq. mi. 109,415(NTD, 2020) Microtransit; 1 service zone (countywide) 2019–present n/a Note: n/a = not available.

40 Customer Education and Awareness of On-Demand Mobility Hall Area Transit (HAT) is a part of the Gainesville/Hall County Community Services department in Gainesville, GA, and provides transit services in the City of Gainesville as well as throughout Hall County, GA. Table 4 presents a list of each mode operated by HAT before the introduction of the agency’s WeGo microtransit service, including unlinked passenger trips and vehicles operated in maximum service, according to the transit agency’s NTD 2020 agency prole. HAT’s service area covers 361 square miles and is capped at 199,999 people by NTD. HAT was chosen as a case example because of the transit agency’s unique operating circum- stances (service in a small urban area and throughout a rural county) and the fact that the transit agency recently transitioned from a traditional transit model (oering xed route and demand response services) to a fully on-demand microtransit service model operating throughout Hall County. HAT also provides an example of working in local stakeholder organizations to help disseminate marketing materials and organize promotion events for the service. On-Demand Mobility Services Overview HAT operates a microtransit service, called WeGo (Figure 15), throughout the transit agency’s service area. WeGo started with a so launch in December 2019, operating only within the city limits of Gainesville, GA (approximately 35 square miles), alongside HAT’s existing xed route and demand response services for the rst 6 months. Aer the initial trial period and based on high levels of ridership on WeGo, HAT decided to expand the service to the entire service area (all of Hall County, GA) and discontinue xed route and demand response service. e purpose of WeGo was to improve service in transportation-disadvantaged areas, oer an option to historic demand response services that were seen as being hard to use due to 24-hour notice required to schedule trips, and ameliorate issues with delayed demand response and xed route pickups by giving customers real-time information about wait and travel times. (WeGo was inspired by the microtransit service provided in Arlington, TX.) In addition, transit agency sta have forecasted a shi from a small to a large urbanized area for Gainesville; HAT sees WeGo as an opportunity to provide a more ecient and eective service at equal or less than historical costs while allowing better cost forecasting to help address changes in federal funding eligibility and better predict necessary nancial contributions from the City of Gainesville and Hall County. WeGo is available on-demand with 15-minute wait times in Gainesville and up to 45-minute wait times in Hall County, operating weekdays from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. One-way trips up to 5 miles in length cost $2.00, and trips longer than 5 miles cost $2.00 plus $0.50 for each mile over 5 miles. Fares are paid with credit, debit, or prepaid cards stored in the digital platform or using a pre- purchased voucher. WeGo is a service operated in partnership with Via Transportation, Inc. In the WeGo service model, the vendor supplies the necessary technology (user-facing app, website, call center, and back-oce data portal for HAT), whereas the drivers employed by the City of Gainesville operate a eet of 17 ADA-accessible city-owned vehicles (shown in Figure 16). HAT acts as the service administrator and provides funding for the service. In addition, the selection of a hybrid service Mode Unlinked Passenger Trips Vehicles Operated at Maximum Service Demand Response: Dial-a-Ride 9,800 5 Bus: Gainesville CONNECTION 99,615 6 Source: National Transit Database, 2020. Note: Statistics reflect services available before the launch of WeGo. Table 4. Hall Area Transit key operating statistics by mode. Figure 15. WeGo logo. Source: City of Gainesville, GA, 2022b.

Case Examples 41   model (a contract for using the vendor’s technology with city drivers and vehicles) was strategi- cally designed to act as a fail-safe—if the new service model was not well accepted, it could easily be transitioned to another service without the need to hire drivers or purchase vehicles. Internal Processes and Planning HAT is responsible for managing the WeGo website as well as social media, printed materials, and direct mail campaigns. The City of Gainesville recently hired a full-time marketing professional; this person helps run the city’s marketing and education efforts in coordination with the vendor. HAT staff also lead community engagement activities and other in-person events involving their on-demand services. Partnerships HAT partners with the vendor to implement the WeGo service and associated activities. The vendor’s responsibilities for marketing and customer engagement include weekly reports from their customer success representative to review service statistics, discuss opportunities for improvement (e.g., rebalancing the fleet to improve wait times), and provide/review a list of passenger comments and scores. In addition, the vendor supplies marketing and educational materials from its library of templates and works with HAT’s marketing staff to customize these items to reflect the needs of the transit agency. These templates include service-specific brands and logos, development of a set of frequently asked questions, and creation of QR codes to help customers directly access the app. In addition, the vendor supports HAT’s ridership surveys by supplying possible survey questions and distributing the survey through the service’s smart- phone app. According to HAT staff, the RFP for WeGo service did not explicitly require support for education and awareness efforts focused on customers, and HAT intended to conduct these efforts in-house—an effort that has been simplified with the contributions of the vendor’s library of materials and support for customization. Local organizations, including the United Way, Chamber of Commerce, and a nonprofit called Family Connections, supported implementation of WeGo by helping with community meetings, making announcements through a website, sharing flyers and other informative documentation with email subscribers, and providing a trusted third-party validation of the service model. These partners contributed to informational efforts leading up to service launch and have continued to assist with spreading information about the service since it began operating. HAT’s unique status as a service within a Community Services Department helped establish these relationships and helps the transit agency obtain in-kind support that might not otherwise be available. In addition, the local press has been very helpful to the agency during implementation of WeGo by learning Source: City of Gainesville, GA, 2022a. Figure 16. WeGo vehicle.

42 Customer Education and Awareness of On-Demand Mobility about the service through test rides and sharing information with the public about its features and what to expect of the experience. Agency Marketing Efforts HAT reflected on service area location, the goals for public transportation service in Gainesville/ Hall County, and community input when developing its marketing plans and the service brand. Marketing for WeGo was initiated after the vendor was under contract as a service partner. However, prior to contracting, the transit agency began considering the best method for marketing a new service with the knowledge that there would be a need for change management with customers and a dedicated effort to encourage existing and new riders to try something different. HAT’s marketing strategy for WeGo consists of two markets—existing customers and the general public. Before launching the service, HAT held three public hearings to let people know they were adding a service. During these first hearings, the transit agency anticipated that WeGo could replace the historic demand response service and run complementary to fixed route service. After HAT determined that both the demand response and fixed route services would be discontinued, the transit agency held an additional five hearings outside at the main transit building (set up specifically to account for COVID-19 as well as accessibility for folks without smartphones/computers/cars), supplemented with online meetings at all times of day/ days of the week, a dedicated email address, and a dedicated phone number. In addition, HAT staff developed a matrix (shown in Table 5) comparing each existing service with the planned WeGo service. Marketing with existing customers of the demand response service prior to WeGo launch was done on a one-on-one basis by sending each customer two to three letters as well as placing calls to frequent riders and those who might experience significant challenges changing to a new service model (e.g., people with disabilities or older adults)—these efforts were specifically designed as a tiered effort to slowly build expectations so there were no surprises to customers. For the general public, HAT uses social media, printed materials such as flyers or posters, and direct mail distribu- tions to market the new service. Prior to WeGo, HAT did not advertise its demand response service, and its fixed route service was difficult to market because the area is not conducive to that type of service. When WeGo was introduced, a $10,000 marketing budget was approved for every 6 months of service. This budget is still supporting regular marketing, but the transit agency is not currently expanding its marketing to attract new customers because the service has reached a point where demand is exceeding supply. Agency Customer Education Efforts HAT leads customer education and awareness efforts directly with help from the city’s marketing staff. According to HAT staff, teaching people unfamiliar with the WeGo service or on-demand service in general was difficult. The transit agency used travel training, how-to-ride videos, printed material, and in-person workshops and events to help customers understand how the service would work. In particular, HAT found that mailers and phone calls were very successful and should be considered again under similar circumstances. The information they provided offered the reader or caller specifics about how to use the services as well as the option to have a family member or other caregiver call to learn more specifically because HAT knew that some of its customers might have trouble thinking about the service and their potential challenges in an abstract manner, but other people familiar with their needs could

Case Examples 43   Table 5. Adapted from Hall Area Transit’s comparison matrix of passenger and operational features. help. These calls also helped the transit agency learn about the types of accommodations required to help people ride. Agency Enhanced Participation Efforts Through the vendor’s smartphone app for WeGo, HAT leverages mobile app push notifications to communicate with customers, generate dynamic/post-trip feedback to track customer satis- faction, and offer incentives for riders or referrals (referrals earn both parties a $3.00 ride credit, and a special coupon code can be used for discounted trips to or from the County Government Center) in an effort to encourage use of WeGo. As a result of HAT’s customer education and awareness efforts, the transit agency has expe- rienced positive impacts, including reduced paratransit trips, new customer growth and higher WeGo Dial-a-Ride Gainesville Connection Service Area Hall County Hall County Gainesville and parts of Oakwood Days of Operation Mon.–Fri. Mon.–Fri. Mon.–Fri. Hours of Operation 6 a.m.–6 p.m. 8 a.m.–4 p.m. 8 a.m.–4 p.m. 1-Way Fare for General Public $3.00 flat fee Exact fare required. $2.00 first mile, Average fare is $7.00. Exact fare required. $1.00/$0.50 transfer Exact fare required. Wheelchair- Accessible Vehicles Yes Yes Yes Wheelchair Access Short ramp Electronic lift Electronic lift Number of Vehicles in Operation 15 2–4 3 Vehicle Length/Number of Passenger Seats 16–17 feet/6–8 seats 2 wheelchair spaces 20 feet/10 seats and 2 wheelchair spaces 24 feet/16 seats and 2 wheelchair spaces Employer of Operators City of Gainesville City of Gainesville City of Gainesville Bus Stops Virtual stops located within 500–1,200 ft. Within 250 feet of pickup site 250+ bus stops located throughout city Reservation Lead Time None 2–3 days Bus schedule Method of Making Reservations WeGo app or telephone Telephone None Cancellation Lead- Time Notice 3 minutes 24 hours None Average Wait Time for Vehicle 8–15 minutes 30 minutes before/after scheduled pickup time 60 minutes Average Trip Time 15–30 minutes 30–60 minutes 60 minutes Driver Operator Training Hours 80 80 120 Possibility of Future Evening and Sat. Service Yes No No Source: Hall Area Transit.

44 Customer Education and Awareness of On-Demand Mobility ridership from target groups, higher rates of customer recurrence, better online engagement, fewer customer complaints, increased activity in business areas, and better service ratings for on-demand services. In addition, HAT has adjusted the on-demand span of service (both time of day and days of the week) and service zones according to the information collected during their engagement efforts. Communications Methods HAT uses community meetings and public hearings, website announcements, social media, surveys, and app-based notifications to communicate with WeGo customers. The vendor operates a customer service call center to support customers and access trip requests. HAT monitors travel patterns and proactively calls customers to assist with trip planning to avoid peak demand times for non-essential trips (e.g., trips to the grocery store or salon). Summary HAT’s marketing and customer education efforts for WeGo reflect a hands-on, customer- oriented perspective that presents numerous notable practices and lessons learned. HAT’s work with local organizations to spread the word about the on-demand service and create materials that educated how WeGo worked in comparison to other existing transit services helped the model become a success for the agency. Key Challenges • Available Budget. Marketing and education strategies were designed to reflect appropriate use of public funds; however, with additional funding, different methods could be deployed by the agency. • Pandemic Considerations. Engagement with customers was challenging due to the COVID-19 pandemic, especially those in the transit agency’s target groups who benefit from person- to-person communication. Despite the work-arounds for customer engagement that were developed, more in-person customer education work would normally be desired. Notable Practices • Referral Bonuses. HAT offers its riders referral bonuses, which encourage new ridership and help retain existing customers by offering a credit for their next ride. • Responsiveness. In response to customer feedback, HAT amended planned fares, imple- mented an improved ADA button in the app that allows customers to indicate the nature of their disabilities (e.g., people with visual difficulties may require assistance with finding the vehicle at pickup), and reduced walk distances to virtual bus stops in the urban area. • Know Your Customer. HAT works to know their customers and anticipate their needs. In anticipation of launching WeGo, transit operators and dispatchers were asked to con- tribute to customer profiles to help the transit agency identify the ratio of customers that could easily adapt to the new service compared to those that might experience challenges. This exercise was useful in identifying challenges and developing plans to help customers transition to WeGo easily. • Leverage Transparency. HAT aimed to be transparent with its existing customers and the community at large throughout the service development. Agency staff provided customers with information on service comparisons, driver staffing and training, trip costs for the agency, and funding sources to be used to support WeGo service. Lessons Learned • Develop Metrics. According to HAT staff, it would be “incredibly beneficial” to see how dif- ferent methods of marketing and engagement affect ridership and satisfaction. The agency

Case Examples 45   did not already have in place metrics that would directly measure the level of success for each marketing effort. • Growth Happens Fast. WeGo has reached a point where demand is exceeding supply. The service launched with 17 vehicles, but agency staff see the need for additional service capacity. Service demand factors can affect how aggressively an agency chooses to conduct marketing efforts. Bay Area Transportation Authority BATA is a rural public transit agency based in Traverse City, MI. BATA serves Grand Traverse and Leelanau counties, which are located in the northwestern part of the state and had a combined population of 117,539 as of the 2020 U.S. Census. BATA has a board of directors that comprises volunteer representatives and appointments from the county commissioners from both counties in the agency’s service area (Bay Area Transportation Authority, 2022a). BATA also has a volunteer Local Advisory Council with commuter members representing area agencies on aging, Goodwill, senior services organizations, disability organizations, and rider representatives (Bay Area Trans- portation Authority, 2022e). BATA (Table 6) directly operates a mixture of local bus and demand response transit services (Bay Area Transportation Authority, 2022f): • Local bus service in Traverse City comprises City Loop service (currently two routes) that run on weekdays in addition to the Bayline route, a fare-free service on weekdays in the downtown provided through local sponsorships. • Flexible fixed route service is in eastern Traverse City, available seasonally on weekdays. • Local bus service outside of Traverse City comprises seven Village Loop routes, with four in Grand Traverse County and three in Leelanau County, all of which are available on weekdays. • Link On-Demand service is available in a 20-square-mile area in Traverse City (see more information in the next section). • Village Link demand response service is available for customers in the rural area, providing either point-to-point service in the county or connecting customers to Village Loop routes. • Seasonal shuttle service is provided to area ski resorts (not offered during the COVID-19 pandemic) or outdoor concert events/festivals. Mode Unlinked Passenger Trips Vehicles Operated at Maximum Service Demand Response: Link On- Demand, Village Link 76,260 26 Bus: City Loop routes, Bayline route, Traverse City flexible fixed route, Village Loop routes, Leelanau Loop, Seasonal shuttle service 326,687 48 Source: National Transit Database, 2020. Table 6. Bay Area Transportation Authority key operating statistics by mode. Service Area Total Unlinked Passenger Trips On-Demand Service Type(s) On-Demand Service Period On-Demand Service Budget 3,133 sq. mi. 402,947(NTD, 2020) Microtransit; 1 service zone (20 sq. mi.) 2020–present $1.2 million

46 Customer Education and Awareness of On-Demand Mobility BATA was selected as a case example agency for their service design, group of departments engaged in marketing on-demand service, and incorporation of customer feedback. BATA marketed their microtransit service as a premium service from a standpoint of fare cost and service availability. The agency’s departments worked together on customer education and aware- ness efforts, and their service/technology partner provided assistance as well. BATA’s work with local stakeholder organizations helped form marketing campaigns that were targeted at specific customer groups, including persons with disabilities, older adults, and low-income households. On-Demand Mobility Services Overview BATA developed the Link On-Demand service to supplant their previous City Link dial-a-ride service in Traverse City, which provided point-to-point service for customers who could not access the fixed route system (Shared-Use Mobility Center, 2020b). Link On-Demand is a microtransit service using BATA’s vehicles and operators along with the software platform from TransLoc to manage real-time trip requests from customers in a defined geofenced 20-square-mile area. All Link On-Demand vehicles (Figure 17) are wheelchair accessible with lifts equipped on the cutaway buses. Customers can request trips in real time (up to 1 day in advance) through the smartphone app, online portal, or call-in by phone. Link On-Demand is available 7 days a week, with an addi- tional hour of service from 10 to 11 p.m. on Saturdays (Bay Area Transportation Authority, 2022d). BATA set the fare structure of Link On-Demand to mirror the previous City Link service, and fares can be paid either through the agency’s mobile ticketing app, in cash, or using prepaid tickets. The Link On-Demand pilot began in August 2020 and was subsequently expanded in 2021 into a per- manent service (Shared-Use Mobility Center, 2020a); initially, the timing of the service launch was questioned during the COVID-19 pandemic, but staff noted that the service change still worked out positively. In October 2021, BATA transitioned their previous Commission on Aging Senior Transit (COAST) bus service in partnership with the Grand Traverse County Commission on Aging (COA) to be a part of both the Link On-Demand and Village Link services; the agency has a specific web page for Senior Transportation that explains the service change and information about using either Link service (Bay Area Transportation Authority, 2022c). Internal Processes and Planning BATA conducted a community needs assessment in 2017, learning that customers felt that more technology in available transit services was necessary and would make transit easier to use; Source: Bay Area Transportation Authority. Figure 17. Link On-Demand vehicle.

Case Examples 47   the community mentioned using TNCs in other places and wondered why buses could not be hailed for trips in the same on-demand manner. BATA worked at moving toward this technology, with the internal goal of improving the efficiency of existing demand response service; the agency previously had issues with no-shows as customers would book trips in advance without knowing their schedule and then not take the scheduled trips, a byproduct of wanting more flexibility in travel. BATA wanted to make the experience of booking trips for service more fluid for customers and productive for the agency. BATA selected the software provider for Link On-Demand following interviews with several software vendors (Shared-Use Mobility Center, 2020b). Customer education and awareness efforts at BATA are led by the Communications and Devel- opment Department, which oversees efforts for marketing, public relations, and advertising at the agency. The customer service staff within the Operations Department have also played a supporting role in being the front line for questions that come in about Link On-Demand from customers. BATA intended for Link On-Demand (Figure 18) to be available to the general public but also looked at other iterations for how to set up the service (such as only for ADA-eligible customers), ultimately deciding to make the service available for everyone as a pilot. BATA applied for and won an FTA Integrated Mobility Innovation (IMI) grant in 2019 to help fund the initial 1-year pilot (Federal Transit Administration, 2022a); during that time, the agency also added a non- emergency medical transportation (NEMT) component within the pilot to get people to and from medical appointments. The NEMT service lasted for 6 months while funding was available and provided free trips to those customers; this component ended due to low engagement from medical clinics in the area to help sustain the service. BATA considers the Link service (including Link On-Demand) to be a premium service relative to the available fixed routes in the area. Fares for Link services are capped at twice the fare for fixed route service in the given area (City Loop or Village Loop routes); Link On-Demand fares are $6.00 for a one-way trip (or half price for reduced fares). BATA set the fare rates this way because the agency still wants to encourage customers to use City Loop routes, which are more operationally efficient than Link On-Demand. Eventually, BATA is working toward on-demand service being available throughout their two-county region. Branding for the service was done with consideration to the local service area characteristics and size. Because Link On-Demand was replacing the previous City Link service, BATA kept the “Link” name and logo while adding “On-Demand” to show the service as distinct and premium. Partnerships BATA’s relationship with the vendor for Link On-Demand has distinct responsibilities set between the two entities. The vendor supports the service through helping with technical sup- port issues related to either the smartphone app or online portal website. BATA staff handle all service-related customer feedback. The same roles in the partnership apply for marketing as well; the majority of marketing materials for Link On-Demand were developed in-house by BATA staff, but the vendor also provided templates for marketing materials (such as flyers, brochures, postcards, and social media posts) that are available to their clients to brand and advertise the service. BATA staff used these templates to help put together any marketing materials for Link On-Demand in-house. Before the pilot, the vendor ran ridership simulation scenarios to help BATA get a picture of what ridership demand, service area size, and wait times could be for Link On-Demand. The service area was set to mostly follow the city limits of Traverse City and two surrounding townships; BATA has made some small service area inclusions to Link On-Demand based on observations of demand as the service has continued. Figure 18. Link On-Demand logo. Source: Bay Area Transportation Authority.

48 Customer Education and Awareness of On-Demand Mobility BATA does not have a specific marketing budget for Link On-Demand; instead, the agency has an overall marketing budget of approximately $35,000 a year for all transit services. The estimated annual budget overall for Link On-Demand is $1.2 million; staff estimate that approximately $3,000 was spent to promote the service around its launch period. As part of BATA’s contract with the software vendor, there is a $500 cost per vehicle per month to cover the vendor’s costs for software and customer service support, upgrades, marketing materials, and related efforts; this cost currently equals $2,000 per month with four vehicles on the road for Link On-Demand. Agency Marketing Efforts For marketing efforts, BATA considered factors on their service area location and size, points of interest in the service area, demographic information, local organizations, agency goals, and previous community input. BATA’s website information for Link On-Demand describes the service as “a ride-hailing service like Uber of Lyft, which delivers rides as they are requested” (Bay Area Transportation Authority, 2022d). The website information on the vendor’s smart- phone app includes a link to download the app and cites benefits of using the app for trip requests (as opposed to calling in) to include ride alerts, real-time vehicle tracking, one-click rides based on the user’s ride history, and an estimated timeline of the trip from origin to des- tination. The web page includes a list of frequently asked questions about various aspects of the service and how to use it (Bay Area Transportation Authority, 2022d). BATA staff used a variety of marketing avenues (including press releases, postcards, emails, texts, posters, rack cards, decals, and social media posts) to help spread the word about the ser- vice; an example is shown in Figure 19. BATA operators also informed customers about the new service when they were onboard the vehicles (Shared-Use Mobility Center, 2020b). Due to safety considerations from the COVID-19 pandemic, BATA staff held virtual town hall meetings ahead of service launch and mailed postcards to customers who previously used City Link service over the past year. For the postcards, BATA used data from their demand response database to identify Link users and send them the postcard along with an email or text message; BATA staff found this to be the most effective method in increasing awareness of the service. BATA and vendor staff developed a YouTube video (as shown in Figure 20 and embedded on their web page) that provides a walk-through demonstration for downloading the vendor’s smart- phone app and requesting a ride through the app. The video shows the screen of the smartphone Source: Bay Area Transportation Authority. Figure 19. Postcard (front) for Link On-Demand.

Case Examples 49   and has step-by-step scripted narration (also subtitled) for each step in the trip request process and setting up a user account [BATA Transit (official), 2020]. BATA has somewhat limited their marketing of Link On-Demand to traditional channels of information, due to both reduced staffing levels during the pandemic and also being cautious about service demand exceeding available capacity. The tourism industry in Traverse City was not an initial target for marketing due to these uncertainties, but local businesses and visitors have learned about the service since arriving at the airport or traveling around downtown. Many people who stay at local hotels or resorts use Link On-Demand for airport transfers or going down- town to restaurants. As BATA has observed this shift, the agency began to market the service more to these types of customers; this has been particularly successful as a lack of available rental cars during the pandemic led to increased service demand. Agency Customer Education Efforts For customer education efforts, BATA considered factors on their service area location and size, demographic information, local organizations, and previous community input. While planning the initial pilot, BATA looked at other agencies in the state and around the country for examples of on-demand services. Of interest to the agency were examples of replacing inefficient services with on-demand service and university and college environments. BATA found their particular urban-and-rural service area mixture to be unique compared to other agencies in terms of finding similar models. The vendor provided BATA with templates that could be used to create customer education materials about how Link On-Demand service works and how to request rides through the smart- phone app (Shared-Use Mobility Center, 2020b). However, the vendor was not able to provide on-site support for customer education, mostly due to the pandemic. During the NEMT com- ponent of the pilot, BATA sent marketing materials to medical clinics in the service area to be available to visiting patients (Shared-Use Mobility Center, 2020b). Figure 21 shows an example Source: BATA Transit (official), 2020. Figure 20. Screen grab image of YouTube video about Link On-Demand.

50 Customer Education and Awareness of On-Demand Mobility Source: Bay Area Transportation Authority, 2022c. Figure 21. Information flyer for Link service. of an information flyer used for customer education to help explain Link On-Demand service (Bay Area Transportation Authority, 2022c). BATA staff worked to get information about Link On-Demand to the community approxi- mately 5 to 6 weeks ahead of the service launch to help people have enough time to learn about and get accustomed to it. Due to the timing of the service launch, BATA was unable to do in-person interactions to teach people about the service that they would normally do for a service launch or changes. BATA would like to have staff for in-person interactions at places such as their downtown transit center and local senior centers. BATA is actively trying to encourage customers to use the smartphone app for requesting trips instead of calling customer service staff to assist with reservations. For BATA, use of the app provides benefits in reducing staff effort spent on leaving reminder messages or assisting with “Where’s my bus?” phone calls. BATA found that customer education efforts improved use of

Case Examples 51   the smartphone app; during the first month of service, 71 percent of customers called in to request trips, but now that is down to approximately 50 percent. Agency Enhanced Participation Efforts Features within the service smartphone app help the vendor send mobile push notifications and gather post-trip feedback within the app. BATA also has a text/email communication ser- vice with approximately 500 subscribers that is used to push news and information about all of their transit services, including Link On-Demand. Formal metrics on Link On-Demand that are tracked by BATA include ridership and efficiency/ effectiveness metrics on all services, new and recurring customers, average wait and travel times, and trips requested by phone versus through the app (among other metrics). BATA found that on-demand ridership increased and fixed route ridership decreased following the launch of Link On-Demand. Levels of new and recurring customers were made somewhat better as a result of marketing and education efforts, but the agency found no effect from marketing on levels of online engagement, customer complaints, or service rating. Communications Methods BATA communicates with their customers using community meetings, website announce- ments, and the available phone number for customer support. BATA made some small adjust- ments to the service zone area and number of vehicles for Link On-Demand according to patterns in trip demand as well as feedback received from customers. BATA conducts customer surveys twice a year and included a question in the survey about what customers would like to see in the service and their perception of the service wait time. From the survey, the agency learned that customers do not want to wait more than 30 minutes to be picked up after the trip request; with the changes to the service design, vehicles show up to the pickup point in 15 minutes or less on average, but during morning and afternoon peak periods, the wait time can be close to 30 minutes. BATA also made a temporary fare modification for Link On-Demand in December 2021, reduc- ing the normal fare to $3.00 per one-way trip; this modification was due to staffing shortages that resulted in reducing other transit services. BATA lowered the fare so that customers could con- tinue to travel around the city during this period; this lowering of fares along with the reduction of fixed route service funneled more customers toward the Link On-Demand service and helped them get used to microtransit. As fixed route service was restored, the ridership on those routes has not returned to the same degree, likely due to people being more used to on-demand service and less inclined to share vehicles with a lot of other passengers (typically Link On-Demand vehicles have approximately one to three passengers on board at a given time). BATA has since restored the Link On-Demand fare to the previous level. BATA saw some pushback from customers during the launch period of Link On-Demand, but since then, they have not received much negative feedback. Similarly, BATA has also not observed many complaints from the business community in Traverse City. BATA did not include questions in their survey about how customers learned about Link On-Demand service, which would be useful for further understanding the effectiveness of marketing efforts. Summary BATA provides an example of a small transit agency that handles most of the marketing and customer education activities themselves while learning to manage customer expectations along with available service capacity. The agency uses a combination of templates available from their technology provider and existing tools/media channels to form messaging about the service,

52 Customer Education and Awareness of On-Demand Mobility which is angled as a premium service available to everyone in the community. BATA’s on-demand service has also been responsive to community input both during its developing stages and while the service has continued operations. Key Challenges • Measuring Benefit of Engagement. Although the agency used all available channels at their disposal to get the word out about their on-demand service, it is difficult to quantify success of engagement as data are not associated with these efforts. • Reeducating Riders. Some ridership groups, in particular older adults, are used to traditional dial-a-ride service features and are either resistant to or not comfortable with learning how to use available smartphone apps. Notable Practices • Existing Engagement Channels. The agency was able to use their text/email system with customer contact information from the previous service to directly communicate with these customers about their on-demand service. • Available Budget. The agency sets a marketing budget as part of their regular process, taking away any question of availability of funding for marketing activities. • Premium Fares. Although the on-demand service is available to everyone, the agency sets the fare price higher (with reduced-fare rates available) to encourage continued use of local fixed route bus service. Lessons Learned • Be Proactive. Communities that are not familiar with on-demand mobility may need addi- tional time to learn what the new service is and how it works; agencies can work to market and message the on-demand service prior to launch period. • Demonstrate Benefits. Messaging the service as real time and showing users the tools avail- able from the digital platform helps customers make their trip decisions. Getting users to try the service for an initial trip can be the biggest hurdle. City of Jersey City, NJ The City of Jersey City (Jersey City) is the county seat of Hudson County in New Jersey, located along the west side of the Hudson River and the Upper New York Bay across from New York City. Jersey City has a mayor-council form of municipal government comprising a mayor and nine-member city council (elected from wards or at large) (Rutgers University, 2011). Jersey City partnered with Via Transportation to operate a turnkey microtransit service (called Via Jersey City) beginning in 2020 (Table 7). The city does not operate public transportation itself but has multiple rail and bus transit services available from the following other entities: • New Jersey Transit operates or purchases service for local fixed route bus service, the Hudson- Bergen Light Rail (13 stations in Jersey City) and 9 heavy rail lines at the Hoboken Terminal located adjacent to city boundaries (NJ Transit, 2022b). • New Jersey Transit also administers Access Link, the ADA paratransit program for the state; all service for Access Link is purchased transportation (NJ Transit, 2022a). Service Area Total Unlinked Passenger Trips On-Demand Service Type(s) On-Demand Service Period On-Demand Service Budget 14.74 sq. mi. 462,687 (City of Jersey City, 2022b) Microtransit; 2 service zones (citywide) 2020–present $7.45 million

Case Examples 53   • The Metropolitan Transportation Authority runs the Port Jervis Line commuter rail line that terminates at the Hoboken Terminal (Metropolitan Transportation Authority, 2022). • Port Authority of New York and New Jersey runs the Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH) heavy rail service, which has four stations located in Jersey City (Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, 2022). Via Jersey City was developed as a stand-alone microtransit service aiming to improve service connections and service for transportation-disadvantaged areas (including low-income house- holds). Jersey City was chosen as a case example because of its goals to improve service for specific target populations and engagement work by its service partner. The vendor and city worked together in a collaborative process for community engagement and customer education. The city identified areas/groups for targeted outreach, kicked off the initial engagement efforts, and worked with the vendor to develop/refine outreach materials for the service. The city worked with the vendor’s outreach team to either push out the information or hold informational meetings, including materials developed specifically for local officials in each ward. The city developed education programs on the service for local stakeholder organizations, including the Jersey City Housing Authority and local service centers. The case example is an example of working together with multiple local partners to spread awareness about the on-demand service. On-Demand Mobility Services Overview Via Jersey City is a microtransit service that was launched in February 2020, initially developed as a 1-year pilot that was subsequently extended (City of Jersey City, 2020). The city purchases all service from the vendor through a turnkey model so that day-to-day operations are handled by that company (Perrero, 2021). The service is provided through a fleet of branded minivans (shown in Figure 22), and WAVs are available by request through the smartphone app (Sullivan, Year Unlinked Passenger Trips 2020 170,719 2021 462,687 2022 (to date) 185,784 Source: City of Jersey City, 2022. Note: 2020 data include February–December 2020; 2022 (to date) data include January–April 2022. Table 7. Via Jersey City ridership by year. Source: Rotundo, 2021. Figure 22. Via Jersey City van.

54 Customer Education and Awareness of On-Demand Mobility 2020). Via Jersey City is available to the general public and structured into two service zones in the city (a Central Zone and an Outer Zone) that determine the fare rate for the ride (Via Transportation, 2022). Hours of service are 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturdays; the service was initially available on weekdays only but later expanded to Saturday service in March 2021 (Zeitlinger, 2021). The city’s goals for the service are to provide first/last mile gap service connections and improve service in transportation-disadvantaged areas. Trips within the Central Zone are not allowed because of existing fixed route services; instead, customers can travel from the Central Zone to the Outer Zone or within the Outer Zone. Even though the city does not control existing transit services in Jersey City, the city wanted to provide access to local transportation hubs and provide these connections to hubs outside of the central core of the city. Users can either request trips through the service smartphone app or call in with requests. The city put out an RFP for the initial microtransit pilot; information on marketing and education was not specified in the RFP at a detailed level and instead only mentioned at a high level. Internal Processes and Planning The city has good relationships with community organizations and local officials from working together on various projects and also looked at some examples of other on-demand services in the United States before issuing the RFP to identify how microtransit could help meet their goals for service in the community. Factors for defining the populations for the service included the service area location, demo- graphic information, local organizations in the area, goals of the city, and goals of local organiza- tions representing specific markets. The city also did outreach work prior to the service launch to help in decision making for service parameters; outreach included discussions with local public housing, affordable housing, and senior assistance organizations to learn about the service needs of these population groups and how microtransit could fill those needs. Outreach was also done with elected officials (councilmembers) to generate buy-in and ensure the project would meet the needs of their constituents. The city laid out goals for populations to reach in their marketing strategy and how to reach those groups, taking into account demographic information, local organizations in the area, and languages of local populations. The city worked with the vendor on its branding strategy and defining the message of the service that it wanted to convey to customers. Branding for the service included the vehicle wraps as well as specific messaging graphics. The vendor developed branding materials using their templates library, which the city found to be helpful; these included mailers, flyers, posters, and social media. The city also developed a public survey that was distributed through various city channels to gauge input on the color scheme for the Via Jersey City service; this survey served as the first connection with the community on what they would want the service to look like. The vendor developed materials and graphics for Via Jersey City and worked collaboratively with the city to refine and distribute them via social media and other channels. The vendor also pushed materials through targeted outreach with the local housing authority and senior commu- nities to share information on Via Jersey City and provide discount codes for rides. Over the 2 years since Via Jersey City service began, the city and service provider have periodi- cally adjusted the service and marketing efforts according to feedback received; these adjustments include updating graphics to keep people’s attention and improving access to the service for cus- tomers without a smartphone (through a call-in number). The city is always looking for ways to engage with the community in partnership with the vendor’s specialized team; one engagement

Case Examples 55   tool developed between the partners was rider profiles in which customers talk about how Via Jersey City has provided benefits to their mobility and made a difference in their available choices. The city also worked with senior facilities to develop targeted outreach materials for these communities and has partnered with them on outreach efforts. The city and vendor work collaboratively and keep communication channels open on an ongoing basis. The collaborative approach includes biweekly meetings and quarterly performance check-ins to discuss progress on service benchmarks and goals. The city sets up goals and performance measures for service, working collaboratively with the vendor on ideas and strategies on how to best accomplish them. Feedback for the service from the general public comes to either the vendor or the city through multiple avenues. Customers can ask questions about Via Jersey City through the smartphone app, service website (administered by the vendor), or through the vendor’s customer service team. Customers may also talk to their local council person or other community leaders about service feedback, which is then communicated to the city. In this manner, feedback comes from both sides through each of the partners. Funding for customer education and marketing is part of general services within the Via Jersey City contract. The city has found the resources used for these purposes to be sufficient in maintaining/increasing service awareness; in instances when the city does not have available staff power for a particular outreach effort, the vendor steps in and either assists with the effort or provides advice on how to accomplish goals. In the current agreement, the total maximum con- tract amount is calculated and set based on an estimated price per driver hour over the 12-month contract term. The contract includes a line item for project management and other pilot operations (which includes functions for operations support) as well as a line item for customer service. Partnerships In the city’s partnership for the service, the vendor leads customer education and awareness efforts on Via Jersey City (noting that any public-facing action taken by the vendor must be run by and approved by the city). The city’s Transportation Planning Division provides the main support for these efforts, but there is also support provided by input and involvement from the Engineering Department and the mayor’s office on the service design, public input, and messaging. The Transportation Planning Division did a lot of outreach with local decision makers to explain how on-demand service works and the costs and benefits; staff would have sit-downs with each council member to talk about the service and mobility needs in their districts. The Transportation Planning Division provides regular reports to staff at the mayor’s office on the Via New Jersey service. In the vendor’s roles for service marketing and customer education, the contract includes benchmarks they are required to meet, which are assessed during the quarterly meetings. If benchmarks are not met, the vendor works with the city with a plan on how to accomplish them. On KPIs, the contract appendix includes a note for the provider to track the metric for customer satisfaction and establish a baseline level of performance after 6 months of the amendment have passed. The contract appendix also specifies that the vendor will conduct a fare study, targeted cus- tomer interviews, and proactive outreach to senior facilities; these efforts are intended to help gather feedback and provide suggestions to the city to address any identified issues. These addi- tional contract goals were included to factor in feedback from constituents due to the need to focus on experiences of certain population groups and their challenges.

56 Customer Education and Awareness of On-Demand Mobility The city does not have a specific marketing budget for Via Jersey City service; any marketing or customer education–related activities done by the vendor are included in the overall project management fee in the contract agreement. The 5-year contract has a 1-year renewal structure to provide flexibility for price changes from year to year; for example, the annual budget for the current service year (February 2022–January 2023) is approximately $7.45 million. Any adver- tising and outreach activities done by the city are paid through staff hours. The Jersey City Housing Authority was also an important partner in customer education to the community. The city’s long-standing goals for improving transit opportunity meant the Housing Authority would be a key partner to connecting to this community. The Housing Authority has many locations that are not tied well into the existing transit network; the city and service provider worked with residents to help teach them about the service through specially focused educational materials about how the program works and can be used for travel. The vendor also put together special discount codes for members of the community to use the service (either for the first ride or continuing to ride). City outreach for Via Jersey City has been a collaborative effort between the Transportation Planning Division, the mayor’s office, and the social media/press group (with other departments also contributing to a lesser extent). The city has been working on outreach in disadvantaged communities in the city for a long time; community representatives were ideal partners in assisting the Planning Department with input on designing the service. Agency Marketing Efforts The city mainly uses social media, press releases, and print collateral for its marketing of Via Jersey City, many targeting populations of older adults, low-income households, and commu- nity organizations. Although these are useful in supporting the vendor’s marketing efforts, they do not provide the city with a way of gauging which kind of outreach works well. The city also has a biannual rider survey, but that is not currently collecting information about how people learned about the Via Jersey City service. The city tries to put the message out about the service availability on as many platforms as possible and may start using survey tools for additional feedback. Agency Customer Education Efforts For customer education, the city uses a combination of print collateral materials and workshops/ events; these events are city-led initiatives and work with community associations to discuss transportation issues with the microtransit service. The city has planned events both during the service launch period in 2020, in which a larger number of events in the community were held, as well as recurring events following the launch. The pandemic made holding events a challenge, as the city could not hold in-person demonstrations for using the service or smartphone application; this barrier was particularly a factor for older adult populations who needed more assistance in learning about the service. The city is currently working with the vendor’s outreach team on additional ways for customer education methods to connect with older adult populations more effectively. The city would like to know what method of outreach is most effective to learn about service changes. The city does not extensively use performance metrics with respect to customer educa- tion and awareness efforts but in tracking ridership has found these efforts to have somewhat increased overall service ridership and ridership from targeted population groups. The city notes that ridership from affordable housing communities has not been used as much as had been expected.

Case Examples 57   Agency Enhanced Participation Efforts The city did provide promotional codes for trying Via Jersey City service (Figure 23) and uses the biannual survey for feedback through the smartphone app. The data portal from the vendor provides information to the city on trips booked for Via Jersey City through the smartphone app; all trip data provided to the city through the vendor portal are anonymized and as a result can only be used for planning purposes. The city has noted that rider retention is not an issue for Via Jersey City service; there is a high percentage of repeat riders, and trip ratings tend to be high. Communications Methods The city mainly communicates with residents in the community through a suite of online and in-person methods that include public meetings (e.g., online, community, project-specific, city Source: City of Jersey City, 2020. Figure 23. Poster for Via Jersey City.

58 Customer Education and Awareness of On-Demand Mobility council), social media, print media, and website announcements. The vendor also helps with communication at meetings discussing the service and has information and customer service available online or through a posted phone number. The vendor has a mailing list of customers that can be used to communicate information about the service (which can be faster to reach customers rather than traditional media or press releases) and can also use push notifications to customers through the service smartphone app. Community meetings are usually led by the city and are effective in getting feedback on the service availability, usability of the smartphone app, and other features. Feedback also comes up during conversations at various local meetings and coordination meetings since the service launch. In addition to the more traditional outreach methods mentioned previously, the city relied heavily on biannual surveys through the smartphone app for feedback from the community to help identify the top priorities of customers and potential riders. The surveys are voluntary, but in addition to being available through the app, they can also be requested over the phone. The city notably used feedback from the community in determining adjustments to the zone struc- ture and fare rates, as well as eventually adding Saturday service. The city is always looking for ways to respond to community needs and to help people either find out about the service for the first time or changes in the service. The city also has an online data dashboard on Via Jersey City that is available to the public through the city’s Transportation web page. The dashboard includes viewable documents on community meetings, images of ridership performance reports, and tables and maps for trip requests by ward, top intersections for service, and weekly ridership summary data, as shown in an example in Figure 24 (City of Jersey City, 2022). A challenge of communication from community partners is that sometimes the service infor- mation does not get pushed out to the community at the level or frequency expected. The city has also experienced difficultly reaching customer markets that are not already tuned into the city’s typical communication methods (mailing lists, social media, city council people); these hard-to- reach populations also tend to be the those with the worst access to transit services. Summary Jersey City is an example of an on-demand microtransit service provided through a turnkey purchased transportation model with customer education and awareness efforts from the service provider. The city and service/technology partner each have defined roles and responsibilities but also work together collaboratively to determine messaging for the service and ways to engage with the community more effectively. The city also has targeted transportation-disadvantaged populations for improving awareness of the on-demand service—so far with mixed results as barriers to access and knowledge on using the service are further learned. Key Challenges • Targeted Marketing Results. Despite targeting vulnerable populations and housing devel- opments with marketing efforts, the subsequent ridership increases from these groups have not been as much as expected, indicating uneven service adoption and additional barriers to accessing or understanding how to use the service. • Pandemic Protocols. The COVID-19 pandemic made in-person demonstrations and events a challenge in order to keep everyone safe, in particular assisting with user sign-ups and demonstrating the smartphone application. These challenges were particularly difficult for customer education to older adults. • Evaluating Success. Although the city has a collaborative approach with the vendor, there are still challenges in monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of outreach activities for the service.

Case Examples 59   Source: City of Jersey City, 2022. Figure 24. Performance report of Via Jersey City service from the online dashboard. Notable Practices • Ongoing Collaboration. The city regularly meets with their service/technology provider to monitor the on-demand service performance and work together on solutions to any opera- tional or customer awareness issues that are identified. • Community Partners. The city leveraged existing relationships with local officials and organi- zations to help identify transportation needs in the city and target key populations of interest for on-demand service provision. • Contractual Provisions. After identifying needs for further customer education and engage- ment, the city included provisions in their contract renewal for the service provider to conduct targeted outreach activities with specific population groups.

60 Customer Education and Awareness of On-Demand Mobility Lessons Learned • Establish Relationships. Having relationships with key groups is important for success of awareness and engagement eorts. Agencies can be proactive in having back-and-forth con- versations with the populations they want to serve through facilitating these relationships. • Performance Measurement. Having data from the service/technology provider is critical for understanding if the service is accomplishing agency goals. • Resources. Agencies and public entities are aided by having the sta and funding resources to come up with innovative service ideas that meet the needs of the community. King County Metro King County Metro is a department of King County, WA, and provides transit services in Seattle as well as throughout the county. Table 8 presents a list of each mode operated by King County Metro, including unlinked passenger trips and vehicles operated in maximum service, according to the transit agency’s NTD 2020 agency prole. According to the NTD prole, King County Metro’s service area covers 2,134 square miles and is home to approximately 2.2 million people. In 2019 King County Metro published a Mobility Framework that is used to inform the plan- ning and implementation of all transit services, including on-demand options. e framework “articulates a vision for a regional mobility system that is innovative, integrated, equitable, and sustainable,” and these four objectives inuenced the development of each of the on-demand service options presented in the following sections (King County Metro, 2019). King County Metro was chosen as a case example for their experience with multiple on-demand services and for their work with dierent service/technology provider partners. King County Metro’s collaborations with numerous local city and organizational partners have been helpful in marketing these services and disseminating information on how to ride and access the services. King County Metro also provides an example of the measurement of engagement and of adver- tising success with respect to their service goals. On-Demand Mobility Services Overview King County Metro operates three unique microtransit services in dierent parts of King County. In addition, King County Metro operated two options as pilots for 1 year. Each service is described in the following sections. In general, King County Metro’s microtransit services are intended to achieve a number of goals: (1) help the agency test new service models that could Source: National Transit Database, 2020. Note: DART = Dial-a-Ride Transit. Mode Unlinked Passenger Trips Vehicles Operated at Maximum Service Demand Response: Access Transportation 541,851 453 Ferryboat: Water Taxi 146,930 2 Bus: Metro, RapidRide, and DART 49,257,744 1,109 Street Car: Seattle Streetcar 749,443 10 Trolleybus 8,385,162 127 Vanpool: Rideshare 1,084,802 1,670 Table 8. King County Metro key operating statistics by mode. Service Area Total Unlinked Passenger Trips On-Demand Service Type(s) On-Demand Service Period On-Demand Service Budget 1,010 sq. mi. 60,165,932(NTD, 2020) Microtransit; 3 service zones 2019–present Not available

Case Examples 61   be expanded to other parts of King County; (2) provide service in areas that were previously not served or not well served by transit, such as areas of transportation disadvantage that are identied as equity priorities; (3) improve ridership on King County Metro’s xed route services by facilitating access to these routes; (4) leverage diverse funding opportunities (such as FTA’s MOD Sandbox grants); and (5) help King County Metro meet its equity, safety, sustainability, and eciency goals. ese services are described in the following sections: • Via to Transit • Ride Pingo to Transit • Community Ride Via to Transit Via to Transit provides rst/last-mile connections to community and transit hubs in four service areas shown in Figure 25—Othello (green), Rainier Beach/Skyway (blue), Renton High- lands (red), and Tukwila (orange). is service was launched, in partnership with the City of Seattle and Sound Transit, under an FTA MOD Sandbox grant in April 2019. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, King County Metro assessed the service and determined it would be best to continue its operation when the original grant funding expired. Via to Transit was designed to facilitate access to xed route transit. e service areas were identied as equity priority areas within the transit agencies Mobility Framework and were therefore the focus of the service. Service in all service areas is available on-demand with 15- to 20-minute wait times Source: King County Metro, 2022a. Figure 25. Via to Transit service areas.

62 Customer Education and Awareness of On-Demand Mobility 7 days a week, and fares are the same as King County Metro’s xed route bus service. Customers may pay fares with their credit or debit card using the service vendor’s smartphone app, One Regional Card for All (ORCA) cards, or the Transit GO Ticket mobile app. Via to Transit is a service operated in partnership with Via Transportation, Inc. is service uses a turnkey model, with the vendor supplying the necessary technology (user-facing app, driver app, call center, dispatch sta, and back-oce data portal for King County Metro) as well as the drivers and vehicles (through a rental car company partner that supplies drivers with the vehicles). King County Metro acts as the service administrator and provides funding for the service. Ride Pingo to Transit Ride Pingo to Transit provides rst/last-mile connections to xed route transit hubs and jobs in the Kent Valley area, shown in Figure 26. is service was recently launched with funding from a Ford Mobility and Department of Energy Grant and is designed to make getting to transit in the Kent Valley easier, safer, and more convenient for residents and commuters. Service is available on-demand with 15- to 20-minute wait times 7 days a week, and fares are the same as King County Metro’s xed route bus service. Customers may pay fares with their ORCA card, the Transit GO Ticket mobile app, paper transfers, or cash (exact fare only). Ride Pingo to Transit is operated through technology provided by e Routing Company (Ride Pingo) and Department of Energy grant funding. For this service, the vendor supplies the necessary technology (user-facing app, driver app, booking and dispatch platform, and back-oce Source: King County Metro, 2022b. Figure 26. Ride Pingo to Transit service area.

Case Examples 63   data portal for King County Metro). King County Metro provides the vehicles for the service, which are operated by their contractor (Hopelink), who provides the drivers and call center sta. King County Metro acts as the service administrator. Community Ride Sammamish and Juanita Community Ride is an on-demand service operating in the Sammamish and Juanita areas of King County. e service allows customers to make point-to-point trips anywhere in the service areas and make connections directly to transit at Park & Ride and Transit Center locations as well as any community destinations in the service area. Figure 27 presents the Sammamish (green) and Juanita (orange) service areas. e service in Sammamish was initiated in 2018 as part of a miti- gation project to provide service aer a dial-a-ride route in the area was cut. is service transi- tioned from a call-in reservation-based service to an on-demand service in 2020 aer a brief service suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic. When Sammamish service was transitioned to an Source: King County Metro, 2022c. Figure 27. Community Ride Sammamish (green) and Juanita (orange) service areas.

64 Customer Education and Awareness of On-Demand Mobility on-demand model, King County Metro introduced the same type of service in the Juanita area. Both services are designed to support travel in the service area, mitigate reduced levels of local fixed route service, and facilitate connections to regional transit service for all customers. Service in both service areas is available on-demand with 15- to 20-minute wait times; Sammamish has service 6 days a week, whereas Juanita has service on weekdays only. The fares in both service areas are the same as King County Metro’s fixed route bus service. Customers may pay fares with their credit or debit card using the Community Ride app, ORCA cards, the Transit GO Ticket mobile app, paper transfers, or cash (exact fare only). Community Ride is operated with Spare Labs, Inc., as the technology provider. For this service, the vendor supplies the necessary technology (user-facing app, driver app, dispatch and reservation platform, and back-office data portal for King County Metro), and Hopelink is contracted to provide call center dispatch staff and drivers using King County Metro–owned vehicles. King County Metro acts as the service administrator and provides funding for the service. Internal Processes and Planning King County Metro is responsible for website management for each of the on-demand ser- vices as well as paid advertising, direct mail campaigns, development and distribution of posters, and execution of marketing campaigns. King County Metro also leads community engagement activities and other in-person events involving their on-demand services. Partnerships King County Metro partners with multiple providers to operate its various microtransit ser- vices, and each partnership’s marketing and education responsibilities are structured differently: • For Via to Transit, the vendor provides comprehensive support, including marketing, cus- tomer education, incentives and promotions, and collection/management of customer feed- back. Included in the vendor’s support is a library of marketing and education materials made available to clients, including customization to match the clients’ service branding and larger marketing plans. • For Ride Pingo to Transit, the vendor provides support with marketing, customer education, and collection/management of customer feedback. However, King County Metro is respon- sible for any incentives/promotions related to the service, and the vendor does not provide King County Metro with marketing/educational materials. • For Community Ride service, the vendor only collects customer feedback via the app, leaving it up to Hopelink and/or King County Metro to address the feedback collected. On top of the service providers, King County Metro contracts with Alta Planning and Design to support their on-demand services by coordinating messaging, customer engagement and educa- tion, and marketing campaigns. Agency Marketing Efforts The marketing strategies for King County Metro’s on-demand services consider service radius, demographic information, local organizations in the area, and transit agency goals. King County Metro’s services are marketed through social media, printed materials such as mailers, billboards in the service areas, and digital ads. King County Metro has found radio ads on iHeart Radio stations to be successful in reaching customers and also has plans to use video ads produced by one of their vendors. In addition, the agency anticipates a test of podcast

Case Examples 65   advertisements through another vendor’s initiative. Marketing tactics are determined with con- sideration for service area location, points of interest in the service area, community input, and languages spoken in the given service areas. King County Metro’s first year of marketing for all services is focused on brand awareness and trying different methods to gauge response—for example, some service areas respond well to digital ads, and others prefer mailers. After the first year, leveraging the lessons learned for a given service area, marketing is focused on providing consistent information about the services, growing the level of ridership to address sustainability and efficiency goals, and reaching equity focus communities to address the agency’s equity goal. King County Metro dedicates funding to a marketing budget for each on-demand service; as part of any service budgeting exercise, King County Metro attempts to secure 10–15 percent of the budget to be spent on marketing alone. This typically ends up being approximately $50,000 to $100,000 per service area per year. Agency Customer Education Efforts King County Metro’s customer education includes travel training, how-to-ride videos, infor- mation about how to ride each of the services on service-specific websites, print materials, and workshops/events. The transit agency’s Marketing, Planning, and Community Engagement departments work together to lead the customer education and awareness efforts for all of the on-demand services. King County Metro staff noted difficulty in determining the most effective education and marketing methods, especially because concepts that work in some places do not work in others. For example, King County Metro distributed a mailer that generated a 300 percent increase in app downloads in one area and a 25 percent increase in another, indicating a need for tailoring messaging more specifically to some communities. Agency Enhanced Participation Efforts King County Metro engages with its on-demand customers through community meetings, community outreach at neighborhood events, mobile app push notifications, dynamic/post-trip feedback, incentives/rewards systems, and referrals to encourage use of the services and to learn about how the services could be improved. In addition, one vendor supports customer engagement by facilitating incentives and promotions directly within the smartphone app. King County Metro has overview of everything their vendors send out to their own managed customer databases. As a result of King County Metro’s marketing, customer education, and awareness efforts, the transit agency has experienced positive impacts, including ridership growth for both on-demand and fixed route services, higher rates of multimodal trip making, new customer growth and higher ridership from target groups, higher rates of customer recurrence, better online engage- ment, fewer customer complaints, and better service ratings for on-demand services. In addition, King County Metro adjusted on-demand service parameters, including the number of vehicle hours, hours/days of operation, service zone boundaries (based on customer feedback collected during their engagement efforts), budget availability, and data provided by the services. Communications Methods King County Metro uses community meetings, one-on-one surveying and discussions at neigh- borhood events, website announcements, social media, surveys, and app-based notifications to

66 Customer Education and Awareness of On-Demand Mobility communicate with on-demand customers. King County Metro’s vendors or contractors operate the customer service call centers to support the Via to Transit, Ride Pingo to Transit, and Com- munity Ride services (depending on the service model for each); customers can call to request a trip on all services (regardless of whether the service partner provides a call center). King County Metro is also investigating the possibility of introducing a third-party booking system for use by social service providers (such as health care centers) on behalf of clients. King County Metro staff have determined that it is helpful if a service provider can handle the entire customer journey (with input from the transit agency) so that all communications are uniform and reflect a high degree of understanding of both the services provided and the ways the services work. Summary King County Metro provides on-demand service under three brands in partnership with three different private-sector technology/service provider combinations. The transit agency’s diverse on-demand service portfolio has presented some challenges and provided the transit agency with a variety of lessons to apply to future services. King County Metro’s method of managing market- ing and education for its on-demand services and the support of the agency’s decision makers for investments in marketing represent practices that support the success of these services. Key Challenges • Travel Training. King County Metro discovered that it is difficult to teach customers who are unfamiliar with on-demand mobility how to ride the service, especially if they have not already downloaded the app associated with the service they are learning about. • Retention. Encouraging customers to use the service after downloading the app is critical. Each of King County Metro’s on-demand services has a high level of sign-ups, but converting the signed-up customers into riders has been more difficult. • Performance Measurement. Measuring the benefit and return on investment of engagement and marketing efforts has proven difficult. Some service measurement KPIs can be in opposition with each other, which can be a challenge for the agency to balance. Although the on-demand service can become more efficient and cost-effective by reducing the number of vehicle hours, this would increase customer wait times and in-vehicle times and thus create a bad customer experience. The King County Metro project team is constantly trying to balance all metrics and KPIs in a harmonious manner. Notable Practices • Collaborative Partnership. King County Metro’s staff work collaboratively with some of its vendors and marketing/engagement consultant firm to execute the marketing and customer education efforts associated with two of its on-demand services. This method of managing these activities streamlines the process and reduces overlapping responsibilities. • Budget. King County Metro’s decision makers support on-demand services by approving a marketing and engagement budget for each year of contracted service and trusting staff to leverage the budget effectively. Lessons Learned • Dedicated Funding. Setting levels of dedicated funding for education and marketing is critical. On-demand services have an inherent learning curve, and this process must be accounted for when developing the budget for the service. A good budget also anticipates “multiple touches” with customers for encouraging use of on-demand service as required to help customers learn to be comfortable using transit in different ways.

Case Examples 67   • Rider Recruitment. The biggest challenge for convincing potential customers to use the service is not how to use the technology (due to the prevalence of smartphone customers knowing the basics of the underlying technology) but convincing them to download the app and try it in the first place. • Leveraging Data. Using the data generated from on-demand services can help the transit agency and is helpful in all aspects of service management and planning. In addition, market- ing data can be comingled with trip data to improve both service and marketing efforts. King County Metro is just starting to explore how to comingle marketing data, customer feedback, and ridership data together in order to tweak services and marketing efforts in a cost-effective and functional way.

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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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