RTA OKs Springs Transit marketing expenditure

       The Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (RTA) board recently gave Springs Transit a green light to work with a local public relations firm on the first year of a three-year campaign to market major upgrades in the area's bus system.
       The idea is to tell people about the changes, so that more will want to ride the buses, thus helping the system pay for itself, according to Sherre Ritenour, the city's Transit Services Division manager,
       The initial enhancements - to be finalized by August - will include Sunday service, Saturday nights and more frequent peak-time buses through the Westside to Manitou Springs, according to preliminary plans. Longer-range plans call for a revamping of the system itself, moving away from a single downtown hub to a multi-hub strategy. This could allow (for example) Westside riders to go from Old Colorado City to Holland Park without having to go downtown first.
       Thanks to its share of the new RTA 1-cent sales tax, Springs Transit's revenues are expected to increase more than 50 percent this year. The original marketing request was to use some of that money for the campaign; the approved strategy is to use fares instead, “so it's not taxpayer-pay but user-pay,” Ritenour explained.
       This will not mean an increase in fares, Springs Transit officials point out. In fact, because of RTA money, riding between the Westside and Manitou got cheaper this spring when Springs Transit eliminated the former 85-cent-per-ride zone fee.
       In the first year of the marketing campaign - which was all that the RTA board approved - the local share will amount to $60,000, which will leverage an 80 percent federal grant of $240,000.
       The three-year plan calls for a total local match of $160,000, leveraging $640,000 in all.
       Some board members had been skeptical about the marketing idea when it came up at a prior meeting, but after the announcement of the grant availability and the stipulation of fares instead of RTA money, the final RTA board vote was unanimous.
       Ritenour said that the next step is to begin “brainstorming” with the selected public relations firm (PRACO, Ltd.) on details of the marketing plan. She said she hopes to have at least some of those details in place by August.
       According to the Springs Transit proposal presented to the RTA board, “marketing and advertising deliverables” during the first year will include development of a logo design, a tagline or slogan, bus graphics, a “public relations and communications program” and partnering with such transportation-related entities as COSMIX (I-25 widening) and the Colorado Depart-ment of Transportation (CDOT).

Westside Pioneer article