COJO SCP project works to increase UST student use of mass transit

November 27, 2017 / By: SCP

During the Fall 2017 semester, St. Thomas students in COJO 344: Writing for Strategic Communication worked with Metro Transit on a Sustainable Communities Partnership project to develop a strategic communication campaign to increase the use of mass transit on campus.  Increasing transit ridership among UST students can help lessen the environmental impacts of campus-wide travel and help students develop environmentally friendly transportation habits that they can carry into their post-college lives. 

The project’s student led approach allowed for the communication campaign to be focused on the specific needs of St. Thomas students. 

“We started by determining the main concerns St. Thomas students had with taking Metro Transit, which we identified as safety, convenience, and difficulty of use for first time riders,” explained student Abby Golden (’18). 

To address these concerns and promote transit on campus, students produced three outcomes: the “Tommie Transit Pack,” transit activity cards, and making all-day Metro Transit passes available at Tommie Central. 

The “Tommie Transit Pack” contains safety information, maps, and route information to destinations like Rosedale Mall and Mall of America.  It highlights for students how Metro Transit is a safe, convenient, and affordable way to traverse the Twin Cities.

The activity cards provide students ideas for using transit for recreational outings, from shopping on Grand Avenue to hiking in a park.  Each card has a type of activity, places to see, and transit options for getting there and back.  Finally, making the all-day Metro Transit passes available at Tommie Central give students a simple way to pay for their first bus or light rail trip.

COJO344_Tabling‌Kelly Morrell (Metro Transit) and Carleigh Munz (’18) sharing project outcomes with students at the Anderson Student Center

In addition to supporting campus sustainable transportation efforts, this project also gave students insight into the real challenges of designing a strategic communication campaign.

“We had to consider the costs from St. Thomas’s end, the branding for Metro Transit, and our target audience.  We had to be really in tune to what our clients wanted instead of just what we wanted to produce.  I feel we had a vision for what we wanted and that got completely turned around because it’s not what our clients needed,” said Carleigh Munz (’18).

Kelly Morrell, a Commuter Programs Specialist for Metro Transit, worked with the class throughout the semester.  She explained how important projects like this are to supporting the agencies efforts to build ridership,

“For students to create the marketing materials is a real benefit to us. They are experts in their own experience, and their experience was that sometimes students don’t feel safe and they don’t really know where the buses go.  The class addressed those two issues and spoke to students in a way that I don’t know we could do as authentically.”

Finally, both students and Ms. Morrell described the broader benefits of projects like this, from learning about the importance of sustainable transportation to becoming more comfortable using it.  As Abby Golden reflected,

“I would identify as one of the students who didn’t understand how to use a bus and didn’t necessarily feel safe riding the bus.  I feel that with what we learned I would feel comfortable now planning a trip and feel safe riding the bus.  I think we solved it for myself and that maybe we will help solve it for other students too.”