Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Bikes and Buses, Part 1: Bike Racks

If you travel by bike and bus, you know what it means to “get bumped.” That’s what happens when you’re waiting at the bus stop with everybody else, the bus arrives with a full bike rack, and everybody gets on board but you. You are left standing there with your bike waiting for the next bus or wishing you’d just ridden home to begin with.

This doesn’t happen to me as much as it used to, thanks to Community Transit’s policy to allow bikes inside the bus if it is not too crowded. In the past week I have had my bike both inside and outside of buses. It is not as care-free to hold your bike inside a bus as to have it in a rack, but it is far better than wondering if you’re going to get to work in the morning.

If you’d like to see how easy it is to use a bike rack, the fun way, see this bike rack rap.  Most of Community Transit’s racks work just like this (without the dancing).

Community Transit has had bike racks on all of our buses since 1996, and people have grown to rely upon them. Passengers with bikes make up about 1.3 percent of our boardings overall, but some routes have much higher usage.
  • We had six bikes on a Swift bus recently out of 34 passengers.
  • Routes 201/202 and Route 275 had 4.5 percent of customers board with bikes in April.
  • My former Route 207 had 9 percent of boardings with bikes that month.
Starting in 2005, Community Transit put 3-bike racks (the Trilogy model) on 24 new articulated commuter buses. Prepared to outfit our entire fleet, we purchased our first 12 VeloPorter 3 racks in 2008.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Transit Advertising Helps with Bottom Line

Community Transit’s Swift bus rapid transit vehicles are intentionally different from the rest of our fleet. They are longer than most buses (62 vs. 60 feet), quieter because they are hybrid electric and they have a unique graphic design.

That carefully-crafted look changed a little this month with the advent of advertising on Swift. We kept Swift vehicles free of ads for the first six months to help people recognize our new service. That moratorium is over, and 10 of 15 Swift buses are available for advertising, both outside and in. So far, Titan Outdoor has placed ads on four Swift buses.

Titan just won Community Transit’s bus ad contract this spring.  They are excited about reaching new markets in Snohomish County, and we are hopeful of increasing the revenue we get to help support our service. Ads on Swift buses will be very targeted, for instance, since Swift travels the Highway 99 corridor from 5 a.m. to midnight six days a week. With more than 75,000 residents and 30,000 jobs with 1/4 mile of Highway 99, that’s a good place to be.

Our Double Tall buses, expected to hit the streets this fall, will also become rolling billboards. They provide extra value to advertisers because they provide an especially large canvas, so to speak, and those images will roll through Seattle and up and down I-5 easily seen above traffic.

Bus advertising done right can be very striking and memorable. I especially like ads designed specifically for their application on transit vehicles – like the one that showed a smoker’s mouth positioned around the bus tailpipe. A more pleasant image was the “Lifesaver bus” on articulated coaches. Someone on Facebook recently recalled Community Transit’s blue Orca Run bus that served Tulalip as part of a Route 222 promotion in 2003. Those community-themed bus wraps wore out years ago, but they were fun while they lasted.

Bottom line – we’re hoping transit advertising can make a difference in our bottom line, as it does for other agencies. With these new additions to our fleet on top of existing ad opportunities, our contract with Titan could provide us with an estimated $2.4 million in revenue over the next three years.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Facebook community pages confuse Community Transit community. Confused?

Fans of our page on Facebook may have noticed other Community Transit-ish pages pop up within the past couple of months. It's not just Community Transit -- businesses from Coca-Cola to colleges face these new doppelgangers on the social networking site.

Back in April, Facebook launched a new "community page" structure. Now, when a user's info section lists an employer, a favorite band, or even a general activity like hiking, these listings link to separate community pages for each topic. These community pages draw their information from Wikipedia, as well as what other Facebook users are saying about that specific topic. So in addition to our official Facebook page, there are now two of these community pages listed for Community Transit. We didn't create and don't operate these other pages, which causes some confusion for our audience.

We created our Facebook page in October 2008, to connect with our customers and share information with them. Unfortunately, these new community pages don't offer any interaction opportunities for the brands they appear to represent. Just like here on our blog, our official Facebook page has a comment policy to ensure that posts follow basic civility. But many posts that show up on these community pages don't fit our official page's please-keep-it-nice policy, and we can't moderate because we don't own these pages.

Other organizations are experiencing the same frustration over community pages diluting their presence on Facebook and confusing their fans. Facebook indicates that their eventual goal is to merge these community pages with "official" pages, but to date we haven't seen that happen with ours. As of July 2, Facebook finally added some fine print to the bottom of the community pages that reads "Community Pages are not affiliated with, or endorsed by, anyone associated with the topic."

What we'd like you to know:

If you're interested in connecting with us on Facebook, we're featured at If you're not sure which page you're on, check the URL or look for our info box on the left side that welcomes you to the official Community Transit page on Facebook.

Community Transit doesn't endorse or operate any other pages on Facebook.

Just a tip on personal Facebook use: take a minute to review your privacy settings -- allowing "everyone" to see your status updates and wall posts means that what you post on your own profile (or to your friends) could be featured on any community page without your knowledge. If you don't want that to happen, keep your settings on "friends only," at a minimum.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Where's Oxy Gene?

By Kristin Kinnamon

Community Transit’s super hero Oxy Gene has been a fixture at summer parades and festivals for the past decade. With his trademark greeting of “Hello, good people,” he’s been an ambassador for “truth, justice and really clean air.”

However, no Sunday service also means no Sunday or holiday parades or events for Oxy Gene. On other days of the week, Oxy will still represent Community Transit, but there will be no buses in his entourage due to the expense.

There is a silver lining for Oxy Gene, who usually marches in at least two parades on the Fourth of July. “Isn’t that the first time in 10 years you’ve had a hot dog without your suit on? “ his supermom asked.

Oxy Gene will manage to keep busy this summer teaching day camp kids how to ride the bus, participating in a Mill Creek kids fun run to raise money for Haitian relief (Aug. 14) and, of course, being a judge at the Taste of Edmonds. “It’s glove-lickin’ good,” he said of the food there.

Where else might you find Oxy this summer?

July 27 – Edmonds Night Out Against Crime

August 3 – National Night Out Against Crime, Mukilteo YMCA and McCollum Park

August 13 – Taste of Edmonds (noon tasting)

August 28 - Monroe Fair Days Parade

September 11– Mukilteo Lighthouse Festival Parade