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Bus Good Question Light Rail Promotions

Good Question: Why are free rides offered to some events?

| Tuesday, February 26, 2013 3:42:00 PM

With St. Patrick's Day around the corner and basketball and hockey seasons underway, customers have asked us about Metro Transit's free ride promotions.

Minnesota Wild bus light rail Metro TransitWe partner with organizations and events throughout the year to provide free trial rides in exchange for advertising and promotional opportunities. For instance, Metro Transit’s partnership with the Minnesota Timberwolves offers fans with game-day tickets free rides on buses and trains before and after games. In exchange, Metro Transit receives a valuable advertising package that promotes public transportation to fans before they get to the arena and also during games at Target Center.

Factors considered for selecting events and partnerships include the amount of value received in exchange for rides, minimum ride and attendance projections, transit service levels to the event and partnerships that are aligned with Metro Transit’s Mission Statement and Guiding Principles.

Promotions are a great way to get to know us!

Graphic promotion for TimberwolvesThe free rides are generally redeemable with a downloadable pass that is shown to bus drivers or Transit Police officers. We ask customers to answer a couple of questions before they download their pass. Last year, about 80 percent of those downloading passes said they had never tried transit or had only used it occasionally, and 75 percent said the free rides made them more likely to attend the event.

Miller Lite Free Rides promotions during St. Patrick’s Day and New Year’s Eve are different because rides are paid for directly by MillerCoors Brewing. In 2012, there were about 89,000 free rides given to customers during these annual programs.

Free trial rides offered through promotions or partnerships total about 0.3 percent of total annual ridership. 

Similar to sampling programs popular in the private sector (for example, free food samples in grocery stores), these trial rides provide easy opportunities for event goers to try transit. Our customer research shows that once people try buses and trains, they overwhelmingly have a good experience (90 percent) and are likely to refer our service to friends and family (95 percent). Sporting events are targeted because surveys show that fans who normally don’t take transit are willing to try it to games and then continue riding to other events. 

> See Metro Transit's Event Calendar for upcoming promotions and events

> Star Tribune: Try before you ride: free rides on the Red Line

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