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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. | 51 7 Implementation Memorandum To: Dianne Schwager, Transportation Research Board From: Christopher Forinash, Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates Date: April 30, 2019 Subject: TCRP J-11/Task 29 Implementation Memorandum PURPOSE This memo provides recommendations for the implementation and dissemination of the research findings of Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) J-11/Task 29: Strategic Communications to Improve Support for Transit-Priority Projects. It contains the following sections: 1. Summary of Research Product 2. Implementation Recommendations 3. Institutional Partners 4. Challenges to Implementation 5. Evaluating Implementation 1. Summary of Research Product Transit priority projects seek to improve transit service, particularly in terms of speed and reliability, by prioritizing the movement of transit vehicles over automobiles. Strategic communications can help ensure successful implementation of transit priority projects by building stakeholder support. The report, Strategic Communications to Improve Support for Transit Priority Projects produced for the TCRP, presents and evaluates the results of survey and interview research conducted with transit agencies and municipal transportation authorities that have pursued, or are currently pursuing, transit priority projects. This survey and interview research assessed the use and impact of strategic communications during the respondentsâ transit priority projects. In addition to a presentation of research findings, this report provides an action-oriented âtoolkitâ for strategic communications during transit priority projects. The toolkit synthesizes the key information gleaned from project research and presents it alongside advice, actionable steps, and examples of effective strategic communications. It is intended to provide practitioners with guidance on how to approach, plan for, implement, and evaluate strategic communications, but is not intended to be a prescriptive set of instructions. Alongside the stand-alone toolkit, the report contains case studies that are also available as stand-alone documents for ease of access and use. Broadly, the report concludes that coordinated planning of communications, adaptability, and meaningful engagement of key stakeholders are instrumental to making strategic communications effective in support of transit priority projects.
TCRP J-11/Task 29 | Final Report Strategic Communications to Improve Support for Transit-Priority Projects Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates, Inc. | 52 2. Implementation Recommendations In order to disseminate the findings of this research effort to transit practitioners such as transit agencies and municipal transportation authorities, the research team recommends the following implementation measures: 1. Conduct a project webinar: The research team plans to host a webinar discussing the findings of the research effort. This webinar may be hosted as a stand-alone event by TRB, or through other transit organizations such as the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) or the Eno Center for Transportation. An audio or video recording of the webinar should be distributed online, likely through TRB. 2. Present the research at conferences: Building on the firm-wide network of Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates, which conducted the research, the research team plans to present the research findings at multiple conferences important in the transit industry. These could include: a. APTA conferences at the national or state levels b. Rail~volution c. National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) conferences d. American Planning Association (APA) conferences e. Local gatherings and meetings on transit 3. Present the final report online: The research team recommends that TRB host the final report, and any stand-alone documents derived from it, on its website. The research team has created stand-alone versions of the case studies and of the toolkit separately so that TRB can display and distribute them independently from the final report. 4. Distribute findings through media outlets: Transit-related media organizations and blogs such as Streetsblog, CityLab, Curbed, the Overhead Wire, and the Transport Politic could be informed of the findings of this study, and their implications for future transit priority projects. Should they be interested in publishing any element of the report, the research team would work with them to do so. 3. Institutional Partners The findings of this research are potentially valuable to practitioners throughout the transit industry, particularly large institutional or governing bodies that advise and guide transit agencies and municipal transportation authorities in their implementation of transit priority projects. The Federal Transit Administration, State Departments of Transportation, and APTA are institutional partners that can learn from, and later distribute, the findings of this research. Additionally, non-profits such as Transportation for America, Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE), Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP), and local transit advocacy groups can play a helpful role in sharing the information and approaches documented in this report and toolkit.
TCRP J-11/Task 29 | Final Report Strategic Communications to Improve Support for Transit-Priority Projects Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates, Inc. | 53 4. Challenges to Implementation Distribution of the findings of this research, and the ability of practitioners to make sense of it, present the greatest potential obstacles to the implementation of these findings. Distributing the findings of this individual research effort to the multitude of transit practitioners across North America is a challenge and without sustained commitment to spreading this information, its reach will be limited. Furthermore, transit agencies and municipal transit authorities will themselves have to understand and adopt many of the strategic communication practices outlined in this report if they are to meaningfully improve their communication practices. Such institutional change is rarely easy or quick, and successful change will depend partly on the organizational willingness of practitioners to accept the information provided in this report and examine their own strategic communications practices. 5. Evaluating Implementation Implementation of the findings of this research will be considered successful if transit agencies and/or municipal transportation authorities adopt some or most of the strategic communications best practices described in the report, or if they begin to move towards a more comprehensive approach to communications around major projects. Key signs of success may include: â¢ Requests for further research into strategic communications practices â¢ Public dissemination of this report or its findings by a major institution â¢ Direct engagement by transit practitioners with TRB or the research team relating to the subject of strategic communications for transit priority projects â¢ Notable attendance and interest at project webinars or conference events Ultimately, it is hoped that this research effort will provide transportation practitioners with a foundational knowledge on how strategic communications can improve the delivery of transit priority projects, and that it will enable them to put better communications strategies into practice.