I’m in the paper today, with a few comments on what needs to happen at Regina Transit.
A co-worker of mine at the UofR wonders why the promotion isn’t set to start in August, so students have a chance to try it out before classes, and before they think about buying a hotly contested (expensive) parking pass for campus. With the new residence construction, hundreds of parking spots have gone away.
Coming up this week, on the agenda:
EX13-27 May 29, 2013
Re: Transit Price Promotions
1. That the Deputy City Manager of City Operations or designate be delegated authority to approve and administer promotions designed to increase ridership through fee discounts
on Transit passes and rides.
2. That the City Solicitor be instructed to prepare a bylaw amendment to The Regina Administration Bylaw, No. 2003-69 delegating authority to the Deputy City Manager of
City Operations or his or her designate to approve and administer transit fare promotions.
3. That this report be forwarded to the June 10, 2013 City Council meeting for approval.
The ability to provide targeted pricing incentives will encourage residents to try Transit services with the objective in increasing overall ridership. These incentives could include reduced fares or free rides on buses. Delegating the authority to the Deputy City Manager to approve price promotions will allow the Transit Department flexibility to implement programs and make the process approval more efficient. The introduction of the R-Card allows Administration to actively track ridership trends and identify opportunity for improvement where ridership may be lower than expected.
The Transit Department has traditionally not implemented price promotions for riding and the standard fare has been in effect whether using a pass, rides, or if paying in cash. The incentive of temporarily reduced fares will help increase usage and spread awareness of new services Transit might provide. The introduction of the R-Card has provided the Transit Department with a greater amount of information on ridership. The Administration can view what ridership levels are by a particular route, down to a particular bus stop. This information can also be further refined by the time of day of the ridership and the type of R-Cards that are being used (youth, post secondary, adult, senior). This information will allow the Administration to make informed decisions on which areas to target to increase ridership. This could be done by a route adjustment, a schedule adjustment, or a promotion that would entice riders to try the service. The new routes and services being implemented in July 2013 are expanding service to new areas of the City. The ability to offer a price promotion will help attract new customers and will assist current customers in adjusting to the changes.
One of the barriers for customers trying a new product or service is the cost associated with the product or service. The same applies to transportation services. Removing or reducing the cost barrier will allow customers to try the alternate mode of transportation with an absence of, or
reduced, financial risk. With the approval of a new transit routing system by the Community and
Protective Services Committee on April 10, 2013, there is an opportunity to introduce these
services to new customers by providing them with an incentive such as introducing a fare
Other Canadian Transit properties that have tried a fare-free promotion saw an increase in
ridership anywhere from 25% – 86% during the campaign. The town of Milton, Ontario trialed a
fare-free project in their off peak times and saw an increase of 63% in ridership. Of those that
started using the service, 86% indicated they would still use the service after the fares had been
Price promotions will be used to increase awareness of new services, or to increase ridership
during time periods where ridership is lower. Price promotions that could be utilized include;
decreasing fares with students during the summer months, implementing a loyalty program
where fare discounts are given to frequent riders, implementing incentive programs (example:
buy 20 rides receive 25), or discounting fares on a new route. Delegating the authority to the
Deputy City Manager to approve price promotions will allow the Transit Department flexibility
to implement programs in order to increase ridership.
The financial implication will depend on the type of promotion. Any type of discount would
impact revenues received. However, any promotion will have the intention to increase ridership
and increase revenue over time. The target ridership increase of the new routing system is 5%
which would increase revenues by $375,000. The intended price promotion would help attain
those ridership numbers. The fare promotion in September is expected to increase ridership
temporarily by 20%. The retention of riders during a fare-free campaign in other Transit
properties has been around 80% of the original increase. If 80% of residents decide to keep
using the bus after the promotion, we will surpass our ridership increase by over 10%.
The price promotions are an incentive for residents to try Transit. Decreasing the amount of
residents who take single occupant vehicle trips will reduce the amount of emissions in our air
and decrease traffic on the roads.
Policy and/or Strategic Implications
Introducing price promotions for Transit will help support the route changes planned for July 21,
2013. The promotion will not start until September as the months of July and August are some
of the lowest ridership months. High schools and post secondary institutions are in their off peak
periods in July and August and introducing a fare promotion in September will reach more
customers than a summer promotion.
The use of promotions beyond the route changes would be strategically targeted using R-Card
information. For example, students and post secondary usage has been lower in the summer
months than the rest of the year. A potential promotion would encourage usage in the system in
an effort to boost ridership. Promotions could also be targeted for a specific route if ridership is
lower than expected when compared to our service and performance standards for Transit.
None with respect to this report.
Even though price promotions would be focused on conventional Transit, the promotions would
apply to paratransit service in order not to discriminate against these customers. The September
promotion would also include paratransit services.
A communication strategy would be drafted for each fare promotion. Specifically, for the fare
promotion in September, communications for the fare change would be communicated a month
in advance to ensure that current customers are aware of the upcoming promotion. However,
this promotion will be geared to non riders where the introduction of the new service will give
the residents more transportation options. Potential customers will be made aware by print,
radio, and social media of the upcoming promotion.
The disposition of this report requires City Council approval.
Respectfully submitted, Respectfully submitted,
Brad Bells, Director of Transit W. Dorian Wandzura, Deputy City Manager and COO
Transit Department City Operations
Report prepared by:
Nathan Luhning, Manager of Business Development