The Connecticut Department of Transportation has launched a new statewide media campaign called “Transit is a Trip” to encourage residents to ride the state’s rail and bus systems.
[Above image by the Connecticut DOT]
The agency said this campaign represents “a new approach” to encourage use of state transit systems, using a variety of communication channels, including television, social media, digital ads, and billboards, as well as outreach to employers and communities across the state.
The “Transit is a Trip” campaign centers on a transit enthusiast who shares the joy of riding public transit for work, to play, or to explore the many attractions of Connecticut. The campaign centers on a variety of situations on a bus or train, interacting in often-humorous ways with fellow passengers who take advantage of their trip to meditate, share a hobby, visit new places, or help others.
There will be a variety of ads on digital billboards, short online videos, television spots, social media newsreels, among others. This multi-media campaign – which run through the summer of 2023 – directs the public to an informative webpage, TransitIsATrip.com, which calls out attractive destinations and provides easy-to-use transit directions.
The webpage also allows visitors to discover all of the available transit options in their communities and links to schedules and handy maps, the agency said.
“Connecticut has very robust passenger rail and bus systems that offer convenient and efficient travel to many destinations throughout Connecticut and beyond,” noted Commissioner Joe Giulietti in a statement.
“This campaign was developed to remind our residents of the availability of our transit services in an engaging and positive manner. [It] provides a light-hearted way to remind our neighbors to take advantage of the many benefits our public transportation system provides,” he said.
[Editor’s note: Governor Ned Lamont (D) plans to appoint Garrett Eucalitto as Connecticut DOT commissioner in early 2023. Eucalitto will succeed Giulietti, who is retiring at the end of the year.]
The agency noted that, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and through 2021, the transit industry witnessed ridership declines on all transit services throughout the country.
However, Connecticut DOT pointed out that the state did not eliminate schedules and routes during the pandemic, ensuring state transit services were ready for residents returning to their workplaces and resuming normal travel activities.
A report compiled by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials provides a snapshot of the transit issues caused by the pandemic.
The 265-page report is the 40th annual overview of the public transportation sector published by AASHTO. Based on fiscal year 2020 data, AASHTO constructs this report from survey responses received from 51 departments of transportation, including the District of Columbia. No data was included from any U.S. territories, the organization noted.
The report noted that overall U.S. transit ridership dropped sharply in April 2020 to nearly 80 percent below 2019 levels, largely due to national stay-at-home orders. It remained at more than 60 percent below 2019 levels for remainder of the year even after state and local governments lifted stay-at-home orders. As a result, transit agencies throughout the nation suffered financial losses of $26 billion in 2020.
Because of the financial crisis resulting from the pandemic, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security or CARES Act in March 2020,
The report noted that CARES Act funding proved essential to help public transit systems mitigate “catastrophic” financial losses caused by COVID-19 – losses that would have led to either ceasing operations or dramatically cutting service.