Los Angeles' strategy to market transit worth emulating

Post by Mike Klassen in ,


TheCityFix.com produced this great video on how L.A. transit planners are learning to market their system

My wife after work last night noted that there is a new intensity to downtown Vancouver in the last week. Travelers arriving here for the Games, no doubt, are filling up our streets and tables at local restaurants. I was really excited that my entire day's worth of activity took place along the Canada Line (my visit of the Bombardier streetcar - Olympic Village station; a lunch appointment at SFU downtown - Waterfront station; a client meeting in Yaletown - Yaletown/Roundhouse station; home to pick up my kid - King Edward station).

During my trips on the Canada Line, the system was PACKED. In the stations I saw young people speaking in German and French, laughing and rushing around with luggage. These are proud days for Vancouver, and many have worked VERY hard to get us to this point.

Now what? Well, we must greet our guests with the brand spanking new transit lines, and improved pubilc realm we've build and will eventually finish paying for. A city like Los Angeles, which is well behind the curve compared to Metro Vancouver but has similar challenges with how to get people out of their cars, is getting much more strategic with their approach to selling transit.

This slick, short video produced by TheCityFix.com (see their post on this subject) – a social media entity devoted to promoting urban transportation systems – shows that one of the keys is clear, simple marketing. During 2008 spike in gas prices they came up with a clever ad campaign to make transit more sexy.

Los Angeles transit planners also put more effort into making stations and buses themselves more appealing to the eye. A lot of effort was put into art work and murals.

Yesterday transportation planner Stephen Rees in my video interview with him about the Bombardier Flexity streetcar that we must treat the system and the vehicles in a way that they are attractive to riders. Developer and urbanist Michael Geller has also commented several times before that we're not doing enough to make our rapid transit stations and transit itself welcoming to users.

Moving forward Translink and Metro Vancouver should try to coordinate these efforts to improve user experience for our transit system. Not only do we need to expand the system itself, but if possible there should be a feeling of pride in taking transit over driving.


Great video. Thanks for sharing it. TheCityFix.com site is great too.

Los Angeles has one of the worst transit systems in the U.S.A. They have nothing to teach us.

Douglas, that's the sort of hubristic thinking that went into making Vancouver what it is today, one of the most difficult cities to navigate by car in North America. Congratulations on being part of the problem.

Douglas, have you actually used LA transit?

Considering how large the metro area is, it's remarkable how well the system works. It takes a long time, but you can go anywhere. For $1.25 a ride.

Check out BCWineLover.com!

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