Hamilton County citizens passed a ballot measure in 2020 that enables SORTA to improve public transportation within the city of Cincinnati and expand it throughout the county. Prior to the successful levy, SORTA grappled with an unsustainable public funding model, which often resulted in service cuts, fare increases and missed appointments for riders.
The new funding supports the Reinventing Metro plan, which will connect thousands more people to their destinations by stabilizing and growing service over the next five-plus years.
In 2021, Vehr worked closely with SORTA’s communications team to develop a comprehensive plan — integrated with its advertising efforts — to communicate the rollout of Reinventing Metro: Phase I. The plan identified objectives, target audiences, key messages and communications strategies, which we helped SORTA implement throughout the year, including:
Metro in Motion: We launched a quarterly newsletter for city and county business and community leaders to demonstrate the ROI of the new sales tax. Each issue — which Vehr writes, edits and lays out — apprises readers of Reinventing Metro updates, achievements, employee news, rider feedback, stakeholder testimonials and more. We also developed the piece’s overall design and format and built its readership list of 600-plus contacts.
Reinventing Metro Brochure: As SORTA held events or visited key stakeholders, it wanted to leave behind a brochure that outlined the improvements, milestones and ROI made possible by Reinventing Metro — something sharp, eye-catching and on-brand. Vehr designed and laid out the brochure, while SORTA’s team expertly wrote the copy. As a result, stakeholders now have a succinct, comprehensive and impactful summary of Reinventing Metro’s current and future benefits.
Thought Leadership & Testimonials: We helped develop a bylined column to preview Phase I benefits and ROI on behalf of SORTA’s CEO and general manager and secured its placement in The Cincinnati Enquirer. We also worked with leaders from two chambers of commerce on a guest column about Reinventing Metro’s economic impact. We collaborated with them to help pen the column and placed it in the Cincinnati Business Courier to demonstrate the endorsement of two key thought leaders.
10 Days on 10 Routes Activities: Phase I consisted of improvements to 10 critical bus routes. To thank the community that made expanded transit possible, we celebrated throughout the first 10 days of new service. From band performances to social media giveaways, pop-up events to special rider perks at partner establishments, Vehr planned the activities with SORTA and secured partners, managed entertainment and refreshments and more.
SORTA has many stakeholders and audiences — riders, community members, partners. When it received additional public funding, it was even more important to maintain regular, impactful communications with those audiences while demonstrating the ROI of public transit. Together, SORTA and Vehr ensured audiences were aware of service improvements and understood the countywide economic benefits of a healthy bus system.