Before you read too much of this post, play the video and (assuming you haven’t seen it before), see how long it takes you to work out what it’s an ad for.
Gosh, isn’t it optimistic! And I’m finding it really catchy.
Even the bloke at the end seems pretty happy, perhaps with good reason.
That ad seems a bit long for television; perhaps it was in cinemas, or perhaps it was online only — though it seems there was a shorter version for TV.
These TV ads accompany it:
…and this in particular I like, as it manages to capture a key reason of why the product is so important:
(There’s one more I wasn’t so keen on… if you want to see it, it’s here.)
Meanwhile, I’ve just finished reading Mark Ovenden’s excellent book London Underground By Design.
Both the Washington DC ads above and the book show examples of rail authorities that are aware of the importance of promoting their new rail lines.
Today it’s a month until Regional Rail Link opens on 21st of June, and there’s been no promotion of it at all.
So far I’ve seen no posters, no ads, nothing online (the official project web site doesn’t even seem to indicate the precise date; it only says “June”), and recent media stories about it (not since the ones advising that the opening was delayed).
I’m told even the new rail map, which would have highlighted the new line to Metro users, has been delayed until later in the year. This is a real shame — it would have been a perfect way to promote the new stations to existing users, including those who might currently be driving from nearby suburbs to the overcrowded Werribee line.
Way to get people excited and interested in the first new major suburban rail line to open in 80 years!
Let’s hope local residents hear about it opening. At least they’ve seen construction going on.
But wait a minute, I hear you say, why does the rest of Melbourne need to know about this? I don’t live anywhere near Tarneit and Wyndham Vale; how will it help me?
As former Western Australian transport minister Alannah MacTiernan pointed out in a presentation in 2013, when the new Mandurah line opened in Perth, it actually resulted in patronage growth right across the Perth rail system.
My guess is it’s a mix of the benefits of the new line serving destinations previously difficult to reach, and the halo effect — oh, look at that, a new rail line just opened — it looks so modern — I haven’t caught a train in ages, but maybe I should take another look and see if my local trains are any good… oh, they’re more frequent than they used to be… I’ll give it a go.
In this short video about the creation of the Washington DC ads, they note (at about the 3 minute mark) that the campaign increased overall awareness of Metro, and helped contribute to very strong patronage on the new line when it opened last year.
Most of us don’t look as happy as the people in the first ad when riding trains.
But I think the “Good times are ahead” message resonates because it reminds us of something important — better public transport means better access to jobs and education and other opportunities — whether or not you can drive — and an option for getting out of the traffic. I can say with some certainty that my life is better thanks to good access to PT.
So too the Regional Rail Link will be of huge benefit to the residents of Wyndham Vale and Tarneit — and the frequency boost expected on the rest of the Geelong line and on the neighbouring lines thanks to freed up capacity will also help many others.
In Victoria, we seem to have an awful lot of trouble promoting the good things about public transport.
There’s certainly political promotion — this week I’ve received two sets of flyers about the forthcoming level crossing grade separations; at the station, AND in the mail… and let’s not forget ridiculous ads for non-existent infrastructure like last year’s promotions of the proposed airport line — designed not so much to promote the line, as to influence your vote.
With the huge investment now going into the system to produce these upgrades, it’s time PTV and the government started better promoting projects as they are completed, to ensure people know about the benefits, and the return is maximised by getting more passengers on board.
Public transport in the media is so often dominated by bad news — crowding, delays, breakdowns — the good news stories need to be told as well.