The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today launched an unprecedented marketing and communications campaign aimed at increasing ridership as the New York Metropolitan region recovers from the pandemic. The #TakeTheTrain, #TakeTheBus campaign will appear beginning today to encourage New Yorkers to return to a more reliable, cleaner system than the one many last used before the pandemic arrived in New York. The launch of the campaign coincides with initial ridership increases in the system, with more than two million riders on subways over the past few weeks and bus ridership reaching 1.2 million. Recent combined Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road ridership of 160,000 is dwarfing the combined average of 23,000 of a year ago, with weekend ridership now approaching 50% of pre-pandemic weekend levels.
Customers returning to the system will see digital signs at subway entrances, ads on buses and billboards on roadways all promoting a return to the MTA system. The MTA is selling limited edition merchandise to mark the importance of the role that the system plays in fueling the city’s economic and cultural life. Transit officials also revealed that they will be launching a robust advertising campaign that hits radio and the digital sphere in the coming weeks.
“This has been a year of unprecedented and unexpected challenges, but we are at a turning point of the pandemic,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick Foye. “With more than half of New York adults vaccinated with at least one dose of the vaccination and positive cases down dramatically from just a few months ago, it is clear that New York’s comeback has begun in earnest. The city’s subways and buses along with our commuter rails are cleaner than ever before and prepared to welcome our riders back with safe, reliable service. We are eager to see folks back in the system again.”
“It’s time to #TakeTheBus and #TakeTheTrain again,” said New York City Transit Chief Customer Officer Sarah Meyer. “A year ago, we were actively encouraging anyone who wasn’t an essential worker not to ride the system. Thankfully those days are now long gone, and we are thrilled to welcome New Yorkers back to their commuter rails, subways and buses that are cleaner and faster than ever before.
The campaign will also include a range of events with partner groups around the region touting the importance and preparedness of the MTA. The MTA is the fundamental backbone of New York and the nation’s economy serving a region comprising nearly 10% of U.S. GPD, and removing 17 million metric tons of carbon emissions from the air per year while moving millions of customers and employees to diverse industries from health care to restaurants and Broadway theaters to financial services.
The new ad campaign will appear on buses, on billboards and elevated overpasses, social media and on the MTA’s above-ground digital signs in the system and on the street at station entrances. It is composed of four sub-campaigns – “New York is Open,” “Comeback,” “Signs of Affection” and “Public Transit is Better.”
New York Is Open
The “New York Is Open” campaign features images of the region’s alluring open spaces that can be reached by the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad – encouraging people to use the MTA to get out and explore all the region has to offer.
The “Comeback” campaign signals New York’s continued recovery as the weather warms and summer approaches.
Public Transit Is Better
The “Public Transit Is Better” campaign asserts that the region’s trains and buses are better than when lapsed riders last used them, and more practical than being stuck in traffic, which has essentially returned to pre-pandemic levels.
Signs of Affection
The “Signs of Affection” campaign harnesses the familiar design characteristics of the subway system to encourage people to return to the transit system.
New Yorkers can show their support for the campaign to bring back New York’s public transportation system by wearing campaign merchandise available at the New York Transit Museum’s online store here.
During normal times, New Yorkers save an average of $1,800 a month in car-related expenses by riding the MTA, and the MTA derives nearly half of its funding from fares paid by riders. For both riders and the agency that serves them, a robust ridership return is a step toward financial well-being.
Unprecedented Cleanliness, Upgraded Convenience
The MTA has taken unprecedented steps to enhance the cleaning of trains, buses and stations, with a rigorous disinfecting regimen being added to the MTA’s round-the-clock cleaning efforts, and trials of ultraviolet light disinfecting and air purification technology. Recent surveys show that 72% of customers said that trains are cleaner than they were before the pandemic. The Authority has distributed millions of masks throughout the system and compliance rates among customers have been extraordinarily high throughout the pandemic.
“Thanks to our unprecedented cleaning efforts, trains and buses are cleaner than they have ever been before,” said Sarah Feinberg, Interim President of MTA New York City Transit. “And customers are noticing.”
Returning customers will also notice the enhanced convenience of fare payment. Alongside MetroCard readers, the MTA last year completed the rollout of the tap-and-go OMNY fare payment system at all subway stations and on all buses. With OMNY, customers need not purchase a card from the MTA, but can instead pay with the tap of a credit or debit card, phone, or even watch.