The Delaware Transit Corp. won the Grand Award for Campaigns to Increase Ridership from the American Public Transportation Association 2018 AdWheel Awards for its innovative DART Beach Bus campaign.

Representatives from DART accepted the award Sept. 24, during the APTA annual meeting in Nashville, Tennessee. In addition to the awards presentation, the winners participated in panel discussions examining the strategies and tactics that helped them achieve their goals.

The awards recognize APTA member public transportation systems for their marketing and communications efforts, which demonstrably benefit organization-wide strategic goals.

More than 300 entries were evaluated by nearly 100 industry experts. DTC won first place in the initial round of judging, and their top score advanced them for consideration in the second round of judging for the Grand Award in the mid-size transit agency category, which they won.

The objective of the Beach Bus campaign was to raise awareness of the new Lewes Transit Center and Park & Ride, increase ridership and, in turn, reduce traffic congestion during the summer. The public was offered the option to ride in the comfort of the air-conditioned bus, avoiding the stress and aggravation of driving in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

DTC worked with Aloysius, Butler & Clark on the campaign, which utilized public relations, social media, print, radio, lifeguard stand and movie theater ads, hotel key cards, restaurant/bar coasters and table tents to raise awareness. The “DART to” campaign highlighted the various destinations reached by the Beach Bus, such as “DART to the Boardwalk” and “DART to the Nightlife.” The winning campaign can be viewed at DART Case Study.

The 2017 season of the DART Beach Bus service was proven successful with an unprecedented ridership increase of more than 21 percent because of the launch of a new brand and the implementation of strategic advertising. In addition to the campaign, bus service levels were increased with more frequencies, expanded service areas and extended hours. As a result, fewer cars were on the roads in the beach areas.

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