CATS launches campaign to improve Garden District trolley ridership
Capital Area Transit System, with the help of communications firm Covalent Logic, has launched a marketing campaign aimed at increasing ridership for its underutilized Garden District trolley.
As previously reported by Daily Report, the Garden District trolley averaged less than 15 passengers per day during its first year of operation. A total of 4,983 passengers rode the trolley, which travels in a loop from downtown through the Garden District, over the Perkins Road Overpass, to Cloverdale Avenue and back downtown.
“We’ve been trying to figure out ways to increase ridership,” said Christina Stephens, a senior public relations manager at Covalent. “The trolley has actually been in place for a while, but ridership has not been as high as I think anyone had wanted.”
Stephens detailed the campaign during the Downtown Development District Commission meeting today. The marketing campaign includes rebranding, public outreach efforts, tool kits for businesses and organizations along the route and a social media push on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. A Ride and Learn day for Garden District residents also is planned for March.
The idea is to target the campaign toward people who live, work and play in the Garden District and downtown, Stephens said. “This is more than just a trolley for entertainment, for fun things. It is to get people to work, get people where they need,” she said.
CATS spokeswoman Amie McNaylor could not be reached before this afternoon’s deadline for comment. However, she previously told Daily Report the agency would evaluate the service to try to attract more riders.
Stephens attributed the lack of ridership to confusion about how to use the trolley, an absence of knowledge about it, concerns about service and the availability of other transit options. She said some people told her they didn’t know how to pay for a trolley ride.
“They don’t know how it works. They don’t know how often the trolley will come by,” she said.
Stephens said Covalent Logic and CATS also are reaching out to businesses and educating potential riders about where the trolley stops and how to use it.
She said there are 25 stops throughout the entire route, 10 of which are downtown. The trolley, which has “Capitol Park Trolley” written on the side, will be rebranded as the Red Stick Trolley to give it a more general name because it doesn’t solely serve Garden District residents. It will eventually have a new logo.
The tool kits, which will be sent out in the next few weeks, contain information and brochures about the trolley. Stephens said CATS hopes the brochures will end up near cash registers or on front desks where they can be picked up by the public.
“We designed a really great window sticker so that if you’re a business you can put that on your front door and say to people ‘Hey, I’m on the trolley route,’” she said.
Davis Rhorer, DDD executive director, said he’s pleased CATS is trying to market the trolley more specifically.
“I do see the potential there for more ridership with some direct marketing into the neighborhood,” he said.