Below are recommendations for how coalition members can most effectively communicate the benefits of public transportation.
Suggested Talking Points
The keys to successful communication are consistent messages and repetition. In discussing public transportation, coalition members should focus on the benefits that local public transit systems provide to all community residents.
Tip for Success
Your local transit story is rooted in the character and identity of your coalition. When telling your story about transit, make it relevant to everyday life. Whenever possible, coalition members should emphasize specific attributes of the local transportation system and detail personal stories about how public transportation meets the diverse needs of a broad range of residents. The messages that work best with the public are opportunity, choice, access, and freedom/mobility.
Key talking points or "sound-bites" you can refer to during the campaign include:
Mission and Objectives of the Coalition
- Our coalition represents a wide-spectrum of business and community interests, but we all agree that public transportation is vital to the future of our community.
- Our goal is to raise awareness about the importance of public transportation in the daily life of our community. We want everyone - even those who have never taken advantage of public transportation – to realize that public transportation is essential to ensuring a strong community by providing opportunity, choice, access, and freedom/mobility to every citizen.
- As business and community leaders, we understand the need to invest tax dollars wisely, and we firmly believe that improving our public transportation infrastructure would be a smart and much needed investment in the prosperity of our community.
The following are examples are how you can incorporate core messages into your discussions. Additional ideas on specific messages and talking points are available in the "Facts, Figures and Messages" chapter of this workbook.
- Every day, public transportation gives members of our community an affordable, convenient and safe transportation choice.
- Public transportation has given us all a new sense of freedom and mobility. Never before have we had so many ways to move easily throughout our community.
- Public transportation gives many individuals who would otherwise be unable to travel around our city the access they need to be independent and self-sufficient.
- Public transportation makes economic sense. It is a wise investment in our community's prosperity - creating jobs and spurring growth and opportunity.
- Even for those who do not regularly use public transportation, the benefits to our community are substantial. Our public transit system:
- Encourages economic growth, business investments, and real estate development
- Alleviates traffic congestion and reduces commute times
- Reduces air pollution that can lead to smog and health problems
- Saves energy and reduces our dependence on gasoline
- Makes it possible for more people to participate in and contribute to the community, its services and activities
Throughout the campaign, coalition members will likely have the opportunity to speak to community groups, public officials and other audiences about the impact of public transportation on our daily lives and the local economy. Forums could include:
- Local chambers of commerce
- Union meetings
- Rotary or civic clubs
- Economic development organizations
- Environmental groups
- Minority organizations
- Advocacy groups for senior citizens, the disabled, the disadvantaged
- Professional associations
- Neighborhood associations
- Downtown merchants associations
- MADD chapters and transportation safety groups
To make it easier to prepare for these speaking opportunities, we have developed a ready-made speech that can be easily tailored to specific audiences. We have geared the speech to a general audience that is interested in learning more about public transportation in their community. With this in mind, it is important that you remember to incorporate local information, facts and anecdotes. The draft included in the appendix of this chapter has "holes" in the text to allow you to insert information about your transit system and community.
Creating Your Own Fact Sheet/Brochures
A fact sheet and/or brochure provides the media and public with quick, easy access to facts and figures about public transportation in your community. It is also a good resource to have on hand to answer questions about the importance of public transportation. In the appendix to this chapter is a sample fact sheet that you can use as a model to create a fact sheet and/or brochure for your coalition. To fill in the missing information about your local system, facts and figures can be found through the following resources.
- Your local transportation authorities
- APTA's information office, Web site and reports
- Your local metropolitan planning organization (MPO)
- Your State department of transportation
- U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics
Sample Fact Sheet