PORTLAND, ME — July 7, 2021 — Southern Maine’s eight transit operators are launching a campaign to showcase the benefits of public transit, and they are doing it with a catchy new song.
The campaign – launched this week with an advertising blitz on social media and radio – urges travelers to “Get out of your car, save gas every mile, be kind to the Earth, and arrive with a smile!”
The rockabilly tune is performed by Travis James Humphrey, an accomplished guitarist from Houlton who performs country, roots and honky-tonk covers.
Oliver Payne and Portland guitarist Gary Richardson wrote the song. The Greater Portland Council of Governments produced the video.
Note to TV news producers: Download a video with a recording of the song. Also, download a behind-the-scenes video of Travis recording the song at a Portland studio.
The campaign video also features a hearty “All aboard!” from bus driver Teddy Beane, who drives a Zoom commuter bus for Biddeford-Saco-Old Orchard Beach (BSOOB) Transit.
While the campaign aims to make public transit more fun, the context is serious. The agencies experienced declines in ridership during the pandemic. While ridership is now on the upturn, it has not returned to pre-pandemic levels for the most part.
The campaign aims to welcome back regulator riders while attracting new riders by showcasing public transit’s benefits vs. driving a car, such as a reduced carbon footprint and cost-savings.
“We want to not only welcome back our regular riders who may have stopped riding during the pandemic, but also want to let visitors and residents know how easy and affordable it is to get around this entire region using buses, ferries, and trains,” said Denise Beck, Manager of Marketing and Community Outreach at Greater Portland METRO.
Transit operators have created a new website, TransitTogether.org, which offers one-stop shopping to learn about regional transit options. Check out TransitTogether.org for maps, schedules, and fare info, including updates on how to use the new DiriGoPass mobile app and smartcard to travel throughout the Greater Portland region.
Craig Pendleton, director of External Affairs at BSOOB Transit, said the collaboration has allowed the agencies to get out a positive message to encourage people to come back and ride public transportation.
“Throughout the pandemic, public transportation agencies went the extra mile to clean and disinfect our vehicles to ensure that you, our customers, were safe,” Pendleton said. “Now that many citizens are vaccinated, it’s time to build ridership and get people to their destinations.”
The Greater Portland Council of Governments (GPCOG) worked with the transit operators to develop the campaign, which is funded by the federal CARES Act.
The first phase of the campaign, which began in March, focused on COVID safety and thanking drivers, ferry workers, and passengers.
The second phase — which begins this week — is an aggressive push to increase ridership. The campaign plans to spend more than $200,000 on advertising on radio, digital, social media, and weekly newspapers. The campaign may also include television commercials in September.
The operators behind the campaign are seven public agencies (BSOOB Transit, Casco Bay Lines, Greater Portland Metro, the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority, the Regional Transportation Program, South Portland Bus Service, and York County Community Action Corporation), plus Concord Coach Lines, a private bus company that also received CARES ACT funds to help it recover from lost revenues.