Marketing Public Transit



Transported or Transmuted? The Other Side of Marketing Public Transit

Despite the many benefits of transit, it often does a poor job marketing itself. Image by Flickr user Todd Anderson.

Last week I talked here about the need to rethink public transit. This week, we return to the subject but from a different perspective. As a lifelong writer of advertising and marketing materials, I’ve always been interested in how people and industries are marketed (aka presented in the media). Advertising people like me are typically self-loathing lunatics and inveterate drunks. But we get off easy compared to public transit passengers. They’re usually sad little people with no power to change their lives. Last week I even mentioned the Italian word for commuter, pendolare or pendulum, which captures the powerlessness of someone being swung back and forth. In Britain, enthusiasts of public transit are called train spotters and, again, portrayed at best as lonely, creepy or just dangerous.

Of course, what do you expect when you see how horribly public transit itself is often portrayed? Let’s review a few examples.

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