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Article posted: 2/16/2013 8:00 AM

Marketing pitch urges commuters to 'Choose Metra'

By Marni Pyke

They won't promise to help you lose weight or attract members of the opposite sex, but Metra officials do hope to pack additional riders in rail cars by selling a more relaxed, productive lifestyle resulting from taking the train.

The agency expects to spend about $390,000 this year on marketing its passenger rail service to coax drivers commuting to downtown Chicago out of cars.

"The message is that Metra makes life easier," Chief Communications and Marketing Officer Robert Carlton said at a Friday meeting.

The enticements will consist of radio commercials strategically linked to traffic reports on news and sports stations, billboards along highways and social media alerts.

"Couldn't you use more time for yourself to recharge, relax and reconnect and leave the gridlock behind you?" a sample advertising script reads.

Another asks, "How do you go from crawling in traffic to cruising in transit? Choose Metra!"

The marketing onslaught commenced earlier this year with a series of posters and reminders of the benefits of Metra's 10-ride pass, also made necessary by the fact the agency increased its price by 11 percent Feb. 1.

Metra's goal in 2013 is to increase ridership by 2 percent, and the marketing effort is part of that strategy, officials said.

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