Will new sales pitch increase Metra ridership?

  • Will commercials lure drivers to Metra?

      Will commercials lure drivers to Metra? BEV HORNE | Staff Photographer, September 2014

Updated 9/10/2015 6:47 PM

What will it take to get you on a train? Metra is betting a new image and advertising can do the job.

The commuter rail agency Thursday asked interested marketing firms to submit proposals for an expected three-year contract worth up to $4 million.


The successful candidates will re-imagine Metra's brand and develop an ad campaign. The contract cost also covers ad buys and begins in 2016.

The goal is to attract 20,000 additional trips a day, officials said. One new monthly pass rider could mean $1,500 in revenues a year.

Metra Chairman Martin Oberman said in a release the marketing agency would be part of the "evolution of Metra's brand and culture to ensure that we're able to attract the new generation of commuter rail customers."

This isn't the first time Metra has tried a new sales pitch. Since 2013, the agency has spent about $620,000 on marketing that includes radio commercials, billboards and social media promotions.

This time, Metra is challenging prospective firms to lay out how they will measure the effectiveness of their advertising campaigns, spokesman Michael Gillis said. "We are telling them that the scope of work includes 'development of innovative marketing strategies proven to drive results.'"

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Ridership on Metra grew by 1.3 percent from 2012 to 2013 and by 1.4 percent from 2013 to 2014. In 2014, there were about 83.4 million passenger trips.

This year started out with a 5.9 percent increase in January but has dipped since. From February through May, trips have decreased by an average of about 2.2 percent a month, records indicate.

The Regional Transportation Authority also is in the midst of a three-year, $5 million marketing blitz to increase ridership.

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