Talking Transportation: From ‘Pothole Palooza’ to the Tweeting Pothole

In 2009, the District Department of Transportation began what, at the time, was a fairly novel way of interacting with the public over the state of infrastructure. What became known as “Pothole Palooza” was quite brilliant. The folks at DDOT told the public to “tweet” photos and the location of potholes and someone with the city would be out to fix it within 72 hours.

The response was immediate and immediately successful. The public responded so well that in 2015, the District announced that it had fixed more than 36,000 potholes during its annual spring campaigns. You can actually see the results and track repairs on a DC DOT map. Continue reading “Talking Transportation: From ‘Pothole Palooza’ to the Tweeting Pothole”

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New Research Reveals Messages that Move Public to Support Transportation Investments

onlinepubs.trb.org onlinepubs nchrp docs NCHRP20 24 93 C_FR.pdf
Key themes and messages identified in the new report, “Mobile Messages: Moving People to Support Transportation.”

A new research report published this week by the National Cooperative Highway Research Program offers some insight into how the general public views transportation, and suggests some ways to discuss investments that could generate greater support.

But there are not any “silver bullet” messages that work in every situation.

“Mobile Messages: Moving People to Support Transportation,” analyzes the results of more than two dozen case studies; a survey of transportation agency officials; eight focus groups; and, two dial testing sessions. Continue reading “New Research Reveals Messages that Move Public to Support Transportation Investments”

Talking Environment: Transportation Messaging and Accountability

"Woodsy-Owl-original". Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Woodsy-Owl-original.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Woodsy-Owl-original.jpg
“Woodsy Owl” Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Woodsy-Owl-original.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Woodsy-Owl-original.jpg

Check your calendars. Earth Day is April 22, just weeks away. This will be the 45th anniversary of the first Earth Day, which is commonly referred to as the start of the modern environmental movement.

I remember as a child in the 70s being taught to “Give a Hoot, Don’t Pollute” and I remember the Keep American Beautiful public service announcement that featured a tear falling down the cheek of a Native American as he watched garbage pile up in rivers and streams.

Those were powerful messages that helped shape my view of litter and helped my generation understand that our natural environment was important to protect. Continue reading “Talking Environment: Transportation Messaging and Accountability”

Selling Transportation: Big Challenge, Different Stories

Many different organizations have tried to raise the general public awareness for the current state of the nation’s transportation infrastructure. In March, the American Society of Civil Engineers updated its infrastructure report card, giving the United States a D+ grade and projecting a $3.6 trillion investment need.

While this report cast a net far beyond just roads and bridges, it represents the kind of “things are falling apart and we can’t keep up” messaging that is often used when discussing transportation system investment needs.

Lately a different point of view is gaining traction in transportation circles. Instead of focusing on the need, focus on the role transportation plays in the nation’s economy and our overall quality of life. Continue reading “Selling Transportation: Big Challenge, Different Stories”

Talking preservation? New report offers clues on how to improve outreach programs

Paving machine
Photo courtesy Washington State Department of Transportation

A new report from the Transportation Research Board‘s National Cooperative Research Program finds that, “Bringing about a change in attitudes toward highway maintenance and preservation actions will require thoughtful and ongoing communications campaigns by DOTs.”

“Communicating the Value of Preservation: A Playbook” is a well-written primer that state DOTs can use to develop outreach campaigns around the concept of preserving infrastructure. Continue reading “Talking preservation? New report offers clues on how to improve outreach programs”