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Suggested Citation:"5 Survey Approach & Results." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Strategic Communications Toolkit to Improve Support for Transit-Priority Projects. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25506.
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Suggested Citation:"5 Survey Approach & Results." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Strategic Communications Toolkit to Improve Support for Transit-Priority Projects. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25506.
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Suggested Citation:"5 Survey Approach & Results." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Strategic Communications Toolkit to Improve Support for Transit-Priority Projects. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25506.
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Suggested Citation:"5 Survey Approach & Results." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Strategic Communications Toolkit to Improve Support for Transit-Priority Projects. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25506.
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Suggested Citation:"5 Survey Approach & Results." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Strategic Communications Toolkit to Improve Support for Transit-Priority Projects. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25506.
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Suggested Citation:"5 Survey Approach & Results." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Strategic Communications Toolkit to Improve Support for Transit-Priority Projects. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25506.
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Suggested Citation:"5 Survey Approach & Results." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Strategic Communications Toolkit to Improve Support for Transit-Priority Projects. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25506.
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Suggested Citation:"5 Survey Approach & Results." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Strategic Communications Toolkit to Improve Support for Transit-Priority Projects. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25506.
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Suggested Citation:"5 Survey Approach & Results." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Strategic Communications Toolkit to Improve Support for Transit-Priority Projects. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25506.
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Suggested Citation:"5 Survey Approach & Results." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Strategic Communications Toolkit to Improve Support for Transit-Priority Projects. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25506.
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Suggested Citation:"5 Survey Approach & Results." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Strategic Communications Toolkit to Improve Support for Transit-Priority Projects. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25506.
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Suggested Citation:"5 Survey Approach & Results." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Strategic Communications Toolkit to Improve Support for Transit-Priority Projects. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25506.
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Suggested Citation:"5 Survey Approach & Results." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Strategic Communications Toolkit to Improve Support for Transit-Priority Projects. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25506.
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Suggested Citation:"5 Survey Approach & Results." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Strategic Communications Toolkit to Improve Support for Transit-Priority Projects. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25506.
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TCRP J-11/Task 29 | Final Report Strategic Communications to Improve Support for Transit-Priority Projects Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates, Inc. | 36 5 Survey Approach & Results This chapter summarizes findings from the Transit Agency Survey. The thirteen respondents represent the following agencies from cities and regions of varying geographies and sizes: Transit Agency / City Location Project Name Capital Metro Austin, TX MLK / Lavaca Queue Jump Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) Columbus, OH CMAX Cleveland Avenue BRT/Enhanced Bus Service City & County of Denver Denver, CO Colfax BRT dedicated lanes Cleveland RTA Cleveland, OH Healthline BRT CTA & COTA Columbus, OH The Loop Link Project District Department of Transportation (DDOT) Washington, D.C 16th Street NW Bus Lanes Project Jacksonville Transportation Authority Jacksonville, FL First Coast Flyer Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) Boston, MA Better Bus Project Portland Street Car, Inc. Portland, OR NE Grand Ave Transit Lane Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) Chicago, IL Regional Transit Signal Priority Implementation Program San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) San Francisco, CA L Taraval Rapid Project San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) San Diego, CA Rapid BRT Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) San Jose, CA Alum Rock / Santa Clara bus rapid transit Sound Transit Seattle, WA East Extension, I-405 BRT, SR 522 BRT Translink Vancouver, BC Surrey Light Rail Project The responses provide insights into how transit and municipal agencies approach strategic communications for transit improvement projects, what their goals are, which strategies they employ, and how they perceive success in strategic communications.

TCRP J-11/Task 29 | Final Report Strategic Communications to Improve Support for Transit-Priority Projects Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates, Inc. | 37 Project Details Most of the projects on which transit agencies commented in their survey responses involved some form of transit signal priority, typically in conjunction with other transit service improvements such as dedicated running ways or station upgrades (Figure 2). Nearly 70% of projects, nine in total, included transit signal priority and approximately half included queue jumps and/or dedicated rights-of-way for transit. Figure 2 Type of Transit Priority Improvements (n=13) 9 7 6 5 4 2 1 1 1 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 Most of the transit-priority projects described by respondents incorporated transit signal priority in conjunction with other transit service improvements such as dedicated running ways.

TCRP J-11/Task 29 | Final Report Strategic Communications to Improve Support for Transit-Priority Projects Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates, Inc. | 38 Nearly all of the aforementioned projects operate in general travel lanes on urban surface streets. Of those that operate on a dedicated roadway, half operate on roadways designated for transit priority using striping. Most projects, eight in total, operate in mixed traffic, while one-third operate only during peak hours ( Figure 4). These findings are indicative of the fact that many transit agencies have been pursuing Rapid Bus or BRT Lite-style service improvements, where bus services are enhanced via transit signal priority, partially dedicated running ways, and other relatively simple transit priority measures. Figure 3 Location of Transit Priority Improvements (n=13) 11 5 3 3 2 1 1 0 0 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 Most of the projects described by respondents were located partly or entirely in the general travel lanes of urban and suburban streets, rather than on dedicated roadways or freeways.

TCRP J-11/Task 29 | Final Report Strategic Communications to Improve Support for Transit-Priority Projects Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates, Inc. | 39 Figure 4 Operating Conditions (n=10) Communications Strategy Initiation & Intent Survey results indicate that transit agencies pursue a range of communications strategies and themselves have a variety of end goals for their communications efforts. In terms of managing communications, transit agencies empower either planning or public works departments, project operational or planning teams, or in some cases dedicated communications departments. They rely largely on transit agency or city staff to act as public-facing project champions, but also draw support from politicians or chambers of commerce in some cases. These public champions primarily engage with project communications through board meetings, news releases, and public events. 8 4 2 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 In mixed traffic Peak-hour only None of the above A majority of the projects described operate, or will operate, in mixed traffic conditions.

TCRP J-11/Task 29 | Final Report Strategic Communications to Improve Support for Transit-Priority Projects Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates, Inc. | 40 Figure 5 Public Facing Champions for Strategic Communications Efforts (n=13) 11 8 6 5 2 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 Yes, transit agency staff Yes, political support from elected officials Yes, transit agency board support and/or champion Yes, political support from Chamber of Commerce or other business group No Almost all of the responding agencies indicated that they had some form of public facing strategic communications figure. For most, that meant a transit agency employee or group, though politicians, agency board members, and other groups also supported the communications efforts in some cases.

TCRP J-11/Task 29 | Final Report Strategic Communications to Improve Support for Transit-Priority Projects Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates, Inc. | 41 The majority of transit agencies pursue three primary communications goals for transit priority project: educate the public, disseminate relevant information at appropriate times and through appropriate channels, and create consistent branding/messaging (Figure 6). In planning communications content and strategies to achieve these goals, they most often consult external outreach firms, other public agencies, and other departments or individuals within their own agency (Figure 7). Funding for project communications is typically dedicated from within overall project budgets; nearly 70 percent of agencies surveyed had dedicated funding for project communications. Communications funding ranged from $100,000 to $1.2 million per project among those described by survey respondents. Transit agencies appear to be less concerned with trialing or evaluating their communications procedures. Less than half of those survey tested communication strategies prior to implementing them. Those that did tested internally with stakeholders or focus groups. Figure 6 Primary Goals of Strategic Communications Efforts (n=13) 4 4 4 6 6 6 6 7 7 10 12 12 0 5 10 Comply with local, state, and/or federal guidelines for public involvement Notify riders of service changes during and after project Solicit community input to design of project Ensure representation from all communities served Ensure that the public is meaningfully involved Garner public support for changes Garner political support for changes Develop a planned communication approach Gather community feedback on design Create consistent branding/messaging Disseminate relevant information at appropriate times and through appropriate channels Educate the public Transit agencies had a number of goals relevant to project communications. Most sought to inform the broader public about a project, while roughly half also focused on involving or consulting specific affected stakeholders in some way.

TCRP J-11/Task 29 | Final Report Strategic Communications to Improve Support for Transit-Priority Projects Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates, Inc. | 42 Figure 7 Techniques Used to Determine Communications Content, Format, and Dissemination (n=13) 9 9 6 5 3 2 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 Consulted with an external outreach/public relations firm Consulted with other departments Content determined in- house with external output Content determined in- house without external output Consulted with riders (e.g. focus groups, surveys) Used information from passenger complaints In devising project communications strategies, most responding agencies consulted outreach firms and/or other agency departments. Relatively few consulted with affected stakeholders, such as transit passengers.

TCRP J-11/Task 29 | Final Report Strategic Communications to Improve Support for Transit-Priority Projects Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates, Inc. | 43 Outreach Methods Transit agencies employ many different communications strategies, in their day-to-day operations and in delivering major transit improvement projects. When delivering major projects, external stakeholder outreach to affected residents, business, and organizations is particularly important. Of the projects described by respondents, almost all involved external stakeholder outreach, which primarily took place in the form of in-person stakeholder meetings (Figure 8). Many agencies conducted individual stakeholder interviews, while fewer relied on various forms of surveys. Figure 8 External Stakeholder Outreach Methods (n=13) The respondent transit agencies primarily targeted four audiences: the general public, people in areas affected by a project, potential future transit riders, and current commuters and transit riders (Figure 9). Of the 13 respondent agencies, eight tailored communication and materials to different audiences, primarily through the translation of outreach materials for non-English speakers. Figure 9 Target Audiences (n=13) 12 8 4 1 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 In-person stakeholder meetings/focus groups Individual stakeholder interviews Surveys Did not work with stakeholders 1 2 4 4 4 9 9 9 10 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 Tourists/visitors K-12 students and parents Senior citizens Persons with disabilities College students Regular commuters/transit riders Potential transit riders People in areas affected by the project(s) General public Transit agencies had a number of goals relevant to project communications. Most sought to inform the broader public about a project, while roughly half also focused on involving or consulting specific affected stakeholders in some way. Transit agencies primarily focus communications efforts on the general public, and on those who may be directly affected by a project in some way.

TCRP J-11/Task 29 | Final Report Strategic Communications to Improve Support for Transit-Priority Projects Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates, Inc. | 44 In addition to targeting specific audiences, transit agencies look to outsiders for strategic communications help. 85 percent of respondents, 11 agencies in total, hired a third party consultant/outreach firm to assist with outreach. Additionally, 77 percent of respondents, 10 agencies in total, partnered with outside groups including community organizations, non-profit groups, and other agencies. Channels of Communication The method by which a transit agency or city communicates a message strongly influences the size and make-up of the receiving audience, and also impacts the quality and retention of message. Most respondent transit agencies disseminated information through formal in-person outreach, social media, website, local news media, informal in-person outreach, and e-blasts. Respondents relied less on printed materials and surveys, and did not use national news media. Figure 10 Usage of Various Channels of Communication (n=13)6 6 Responses for “other” varied and consisted of brochures, targeted emails, editorial publications, and posters in merchant windows. 0 1 2 4 4 8 8 10 10 10 10 11 12 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 National news media Transit agency smartphone app In-person surveys Online surveys Other Notifications on existing fixed routes/bus… Printed mailers E-blasts Informal in-person outreach Local news media Website Social media Formal in-person outreach Transit agencies exhibit a tendency to employ channels of communication that reach either a very broad audience, or that engage directly with a small targeted audience.

TCRP J-11/Task 29 | Final Report Strategic Communications to Improve Support for Transit-Priority Projects Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates, Inc. | 45 Strategy Evaluation While transit agencies demonstrate a thorough capacity to plan and implement communications plans for major projects, they appear to focus less on evaluating those plans. Of the thirteen respondent agencies, only three developed, or are in the process of developing, a formal evaluation of their communications strategy. Those that conduct some form of evaluation assess the efficacy of a communications strategy against some, or all, of the following metrics:  The cost of marketing/outreach  Customer satisfaction  Awareness of the project  Mode shift among participants  Social media reach  Traditional media reach  Website hits  Transit ridership. Agencies can employ online or in-person surveys, as well as internal analytics to obtain data on these metrics.

TCRP J-11/Task 29 | Final Report Strategic Communications to Improve Support for Transit-Priority Projects Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates, Inc. | 46 Communications Successes & Challenges Though most transit agencies do not formally evaluate project communications efforts, they all perceive some communications strategies to be more successful than others. Informal and formal in-person outreach were rated highly by respondent agencies; half described informal in-person outreach as ‘very successful’ (Figure 11). In-person and online surveys were also viewed as relatively successful forms of engagement by all respondent agencies. Notably, some respondent agencies found other forms of online communication to be less successful. Roughly one-third of rated e-blasts, websites, social media, as well as printed mailers to be unsuccessful. Figure 11 Perception among Agencies of the Success of Communication Methods (n=13)7 7 “Other” communication channels included brochures, targeted emails, editorial publications, and posters in merchant windows. National news media was not used and is therefore not shown. 70% 91% 88% 100% 70% 71% 100% 75% 73% 100% 70% 100% 10% 9% 13% 20% 29% 13% 18% 10% 20% 10% 13% 9% 20% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% E-blasts Formal in-person outreach Informal in-person outreach In-person surveys Local news media Notifications on existing transit Online surveys Printed mailers Social media Transit agency smartphone app Website Other Successful Neither successful nor unsuccessful Unsuccessful Transit agencies view communication strategies that directly engage stakeholders as most successful, rather than those that reach a wide audience.

TCRP J-11/Task 29 | Final Report Strategic Communications to Improve Support for Transit-Priority Projects Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates, Inc. | 47 Transit agencies rely on technology, typically in the form of electronic communication methods, for all aspects of project communications. Most respondent agencies report relying on technology to help target different audiences. Many also use technology to improve the cost efficiency of project communications, and to communicate information and evaluate surveys results in real- time. Figure 12 Role of Technology in Strategic Communications Strategies (n=11) 10 9 8 7 4 3 2 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 Communication technologies allow transit agencies to target specific audiences.

TCRP J-11/Task 29 | Final Report Strategic Communications to Improve Support for Transit-Priority Projects Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates, Inc. | 48 In broadly assessing what makes project communications successful, respondent agencies identified clarity and trust as the two most important factors in successful project communications. Nine of thirteen agencies reported ‘clear messaging/branding’ and ‘strong relationships with local communities’ as key factors for success. Approximately half also identified the importance of clear goals and objectives. Notably, few transit agencies felt that having a strong public facing champion was important. Figure 13 Key Factors in Successful Project Communications (n=13) 9 9 6 5 3 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 Clear messaging/branding Strong relationships with local communities Clearly defined goals and objectives Use of different communication platforms Strong public-facing champion(s) Transit agencies know that they need to build strong stakeholder relationships, and communicate information as clearly as possible.

TCRP J-11/Task 29 | Final Report Strategic Communications to Improve Support for Transit-Priority Projects Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates, Inc. | 49 While transit agencies perceive clear messaging and strong community relationships as key to successful communications, many cited inconsistent messaging or a lackluster relationship with the community as the most pressing barriers to success. Similarly, some transit agencies also pointed to a lack of interest at public meetings, from decision makers, and internally as an obstacle to success. Figure 14 Barriers to Successful Project Communications (n=13) 1 1 1 2 2 3 3 5 5 0 2 4 6 8 10 Lack of interest/support from the transit agency decision-makers Lack of resources for prioritizing diverse target audiences Not enough time to implement communication plan Insufficient funds Lack of interest/support from stakeholders Lack of interest/support from other department staff Low attendance/participation at events Inconsistent messaging Lack of interest/support from the general public Transit agencies most often face disinterest and inconsistent message as barriers to successful project communications.

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TRB’s Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) Research Report 208 explores the use and effectiveness of strategic communications in building public support for transit-priority projects.

Transit priority projects are efforts to improve transit service, particularly in terms of speed and reliability, by prioritizing the movement of transit vehicles over automobiles.

The report analyzes the communication approaches used by cities and transit agencies in the delivery of transit-priority projects, and the factors that make certain methods more or less effective.

The report is structured around the presentation of a toolkit and the findings of research into strategic communications for transit-priority projects transit-priority projects. The toolkit is designed to serve as a guide for cities and transit agencies to effectively implement strategic communications strategies for transit-priority projects, and is derived from the findings of project research.

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