Below are suggested local events and activities that can help attract interest and raise awareness about the benefits of public transportation in your local community. All events can be modified to meet local needs and concerns. Make sure to also review the Coalitions In Action information sheet and the Coalition in Action boxes in this chapter for a wealth of practical, good ideas on how to leverage your coalition.
Scheduled Community Events:
Community events and activities already scheduled in the community can be an excellent venue for coalition activities. Local fairs, meetings, concerts, and sporting events often allow opportunities for partnerships or sponsorships or can be a venue for reaching out to government officials and the media.
Examples of events to consider include:
- Congressional Town Hall Meetings - Most Members of Congress hold regular town hall meetings in their home states or districts. Coalition members should attend these events and ask Members of Congress about their positions on public transportation issues. Often these events attract media attention, so they are also a good venue to communicate with the media.
- Sporting Events and Concerts - Partner with local organizations and event sponsors to encourage people to ride public transportation to widely attended events. Offer incentives such as free refreshments or souvenir coupons to attendees who leave the car at home.
- Local Fairs - Set up booths at local fairs to provide people with information on public transportation and the coalition. You may want to ask people to sign a petition supporting a specific public transportation funding bill or initiative. This petition will help you compile the names and addresses of supporters and can be sent to government officials and the media.
- After-School and School Event Programs - Within existing federal regulations, explore new ways to work with local schools to offer free transportation to and from special events such as dances and sporting events. Hold a press conference at an after-school program or school event to announce the new benefit and highlight how public transportation is helping to keep young people off the streets during dangerous after school hours and at night.
Your coalition can also develop its own activities and events. Possible ideas include:
- Celebrity Riders - Invite a prominent local official such as a member of Congress or the mayor to ride public transportation to their office. Invite television cameras to accompany the official and interview them while they are on the bus, ferry, train, etc.
- Transportation Milestones - Hold rallies with local officials and coalition members to commemorate local public transportation milestones and anniversaries.
- Award Dinners – Present a special "Public Transportation Hero" award to a local business, labor or civic leader who supports public transportation within his or her business or organization.
- "Bus Buddy" Day - Sponsor a "two for the price of one day" on all public transportation routes to encourage riders to bring a friend or co-worker along during their commute on public transportation.
- "Code Red" Day - Offer free trips on public transportation on days when the heat index is classified as code red. Invite local television stations to report on increased ridership and on how getting drivers off the road improves air quality.
- Public Transportation "Traffic" Reports - Work with local radio or television stations to provide local public transportation "traffic" or "sprawl and crawl" reports. Encourage the media to include buses, ferries and metro lines in their morning and evening reports.
- Transportation Rider Appreciation Day - Encourage local businesses to sponsor a special day honoring employees who use public transportation. Businesses could encourage employees who commute by car to thank their co-workers for helping to relieve highway congestion.
- Transit Rally - A transit rally involves participants completing on a "course" designed to include every mode of public transportation such as buses, commuter rail, light rail, trolleys, subways, and possibly passenger ferries. This type of activity encourages less experienced transit riders to understand how the public transportation operates in their community.