Monday, May 14, 2007

Mass Transit Can Become A Habit

Local news today from Western North Carolina, that can be a lesson to all of us.
Last summer, Asheville started offering free bus trips in order to boost ridership on the Asheville Transit System. A city-staff report released yesterday gives a detailed assessment of how free fare fared in its goal of getting more Ashevilleans to go by bus.

Since the promotion ended, overall ATS ridership has increased by 19.4 percent over the same period last year, according to the report, and 8 percent of that can be attributed directly to the promotion. The added evening service route also played a major role in increasing ridership

What this shows to me is that it is no different than any product. A product's sales are lagging and you do a promotion for a discount, or sending away for a free sample in order to encourage further sales.

Asheville gave free bus rides just for a few months. Many people who took advantage of the offer realized that the bus was a convenient alternative for them, so they continued to leave their cars in the garage and use the bus instead.

It might have cost money in the short run to offer the free rides, but in the end, these added riders are going to tell friends and family members how convenient the service is for them, and the city is going to end up making more money, getting more cars off the road, and do a little bit to clean the air, and make the area that much more livable.