Amtrak is Advertising

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jccollins

Conductor
Joined
Nov 2, 2002
Messages
1,256
It's too bad Amtrak doesn't advertise out here in California. Their ridership on the California trains would be at least twice as high if people knew that they existed. We may not have high speed trains like the east coast, but the trains do beat the traffic during commute hours and the people who ride them really enjoy them. I recently participated in setting up an Amtrak advertising booth at a local park near the Martinez Station (in Concord, about ten miles from the station). I asked everyone who visited the booth whether they had rode Amtrak before. I would estimate that it was a three way split. About 33 percent said yes, about 33 percent said no but they were interested in it but just didn't know very much about it besides the bad things they heard about it on the news, and the other 33 percent said WHAT IS IT. Can you believe this? About 1/3 of the people who stopped by the booth asked what Amtrak is when they live just a few miles from one of the busiest stations in the state (7th busiest in the state). :( THIS is the problem. Amtrak should spend some money advertising their services in California where rail is hardly ever thought of as a real transportation option. Instead, they choose to advertise Acela on the east coast when everybody at least knows it exists. I think that it is great they're advertising it on the east coast, but I think Amtrak would see tremendous increases in ridership for each dollar spent if they would even spend a fraction of the money advertising on in the West.
 

Allen Dee

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Sep 16, 2002
Messages
305
Location
Santa Barbara, CA
jccollins said:
It's too bad Amtrak doesn't advertise out here in California.  Their ridership on the California trains would be at least twice as high if people knew that they existed.  We may not have high speed trains like the east coast, but the trains do beat the traffic during commute hours and the people who ride them really enjoy them.
Amtrak does quite a bit of advertising in California, but most (or all) of it is in newspapers.

jccollins said:
I recently participated in setting up an Amtrak advertising booth at a local park near the Martinez Station (in Concord, about ten miles from the station).  I asked everyone who visited the booth whether they had rode Amtrak before.  I would estimate that it was a three way split.  About 33 percent said yes, about 33 percent said no but they were interested in it but just didn't know very much about it besides the bad things they heard about it on the news, and the other 33 percent said WHAT IS IT.  Can you believe this?  About 1/3 of the people who stopped by the booth asked what Amtrak is when they live just a few miles from one of the busiest stations in the state (7th busiest in the state).
If you think the percentage of unknown potential Amtrak passengers in the Bay Area is high, you should see what is like here in Santa Barbara. I would estimate that 99.99% of the locals here are unaware of the present service between Santa Barbara and Las Vegas -- Pacific Surfliner (SBA-LAX) and Amtrak Thruway Bus Service (LAX-LVS).

I have made this trip several times, and -- although it would be better if it were all rail -- I found it to be quite pleasant.
 

tp49

Engineer
Joined
Aug 23, 2002
Messages
2,747
Amtrak California at one point in time (and still might) have billboards on major highways (I-880, 680, 80) along the lines of ride the train and not be stuck in traffic. They also did some limited radio advertising during Giants and A's games this season.
 

jccollins

Conductor
Joined
Nov 2, 2002
Messages
1,256
I have seen a very small amount of Amtrak California advertising on billboards and in the newspapers. I believe most (if not all) of the billboards in Northern California have been taken down, though. The advertising on the radio was very limited. I don't believe listing trip prices between pairs of cities on different routess was as effective as if Amtrak would have focused on one route (say the Capitol Corridor) in a radio ad and then listed ALL the station stops along the route as well as repeating how many trains a day service the route. THAT would catch the attention of people sitting in traffic when they hear the two cities the travel between listed and hear "twenty trains a day". As for the newspapers, I saw two or three third page ads advertising the 30% off California trains over the course of maybe a month. A weekly ad in the travel section of the Sunday newspapers (like SouthWest has) would probably be more effective. While some efforts have been made, I think people don't connect the whole idea of train travel. It goes in one ear and out the other because people do not understand the basics of how the system is set up. They have no idea of which areas are connected by train service and how the trains are routed. While Amtrak has a clear distinction between routes (route names in addition to numbers helps this) they do not advertise by routes, but rather by two random station pairs with a trip cost. Clear, concise advertising would be a great improvement.
 

Amfleet

Engineer
Joined
Aug 24, 2002
Messages
3,390
Location
Southeastern, Massachusetts
In the past two years I've seen advertising for the Acela, Downeaster, and there were a few advertsing the North American Rail Pass on my local news station. When visiting my grandparents in Pennsylvania I saw a commercial for the Auto Train on the local news station there.
 

Viewliner

Engineer
Joined
Aug 23, 2002
Messages
2,662
Location
New Jersey
Amfleet said:
In the past two years I've seen advertising for the Acela, Downeaster, and there were a few advertsing the North American Rail Pass on my local news station. When visiting my grandparents in Pennsylvania I saw a commercial for the Auto Train on the local news station there.
Me too. Its the one with the car being unloaded at the baggage carousel in the Airport. Also sometimes in baseball games on tv you can see Acela advertisements like in Boston.
 

tp49

Engineer
Joined
Aug 23, 2002
Messages
2,747
The marketing department seems to concentrate their main media blitz in the Eastern US. I have heard Acela ads on various morning shows in New York for years (Metroliner ads before that). Since moving out west I have seen little save for the odd print ad in the Chronicle or the Bee, the old billboards and some ads on the radio during sporting events.
 

Tristan

Engineer
Joined
Aug 22, 2002
Messages
83
I saw two Amtrak commercials on the same day on the same channel within 30 mins of each other! One was Acela Express, but the first one was general Amtrak and it was kinda long too
 

battalion51

Engineer
Joined
Aug 23, 2002
Messages
7,193
Location
USA
I too saw an Amtrak commercial yesterday during Jeopardy. The ad was for the current 35% off special. when I saw I yelled "SHUT UP!" so i could hear the commercial. The only previous TV ads for Amtrak I can remember are Auto Train and Florida Fun Train (although that was paid for by the FFT owner, but FFT was an Amtrak Service). Amtrak also has several ads at sporting venues around the country including the MCI Center in Washingon, Yankee Stadium, Shea Stadium, Fenway Park, Madison Square Garden, Staples Centre in LA, and a few more. Amtrak also has a few spots on the Florida Marlins Radio Network.
 

Bill Haithcoat

Engineer
Honored Member
Joined
Aug 23, 2002
Messages
4,031
Location
atlanta, georgia
I wish Amtrak ads outside the NE corrider would be more specific, i.e. where the trains go and when....instead of totally generic. Mayber some are or were and I just don't see them.
 

AlanB

Engineer
Honored Member
Joined
Aug 22, 2002
Messages
28,402
Location
Queens, New York
Bill Haithcoat said:
I wish Amtrak ads outside the NE corrider would be more specific, i.e. where the trains go and when....instead of totally generic. Mayber some are or were and I just don't see them.
Bill,

Here again is where the lack of proper funding comes into play. When you have very little money to spend, you have to go with generic/feel good types of commercials. The budget doesn't permit you to film more commercials for each region or a specific train, so you make one that you can show around the whole country.

Money is also why you don't see more ads on the west coast for their interstate services. Yes, if they had an Acela equivalent out there then one would see more commercial targeted at that service. With it's limited funds Amtrak has no choice but to tout their flagship service, the Acela Express, in the hope that more and more people will turn to the train. As its popularity increases, those people in turn will exert more influence on Congress and also encourage more people to ride.
 
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