Hillsborough Regional Transit Authority (HART) CEO Katharine Eagan says that the transit agency’s marketing budget became a budget casualty when the Great Recession reduced funding years ago, but HART’s evaluation committee will soon be selecting a marketing agency to help with their marketing and communication strategic plan in 2017.
“We are in the active evaluation of a firm for a communications plan,” Eagan told members of the Finance and Audit Committee meeting on Monday.
The announcement came a day after the Tampa Bay Times reported on the desultory state of public transit in the Tampa Bay area. The story reported that out of the top 30 largest metro areas in the U.S., the Tampa Bay area ranks 29th in four of six ways that the government measures public transit coverage and usage.
Listening to the fact that nearly a third of the agency’s fleet of buses have transitioned from diesel to ones that run on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), board member Mickey Jacobs said it would be beneficial to get the word out about their CNG fleet, which reduces thousands of dollars in annual fuels costs and significantly limits harmful emissions.”It’s a story that we need to tell,” said Jacobs.
Eagan concurred. “We have probably 80 things we want to talk about, and how do we distill that to about three or four messages, which are the most effective to tell folks really what we’re doing with their money, in a way that doesn’t make a taxpayer feel that we’re wasting their money to share this information?” she asked.
Board member Pat Kemp said that far from being negative, she thought the Times piece showed that the agency is performing well with the limited funds it possesses. “It’s really important to know that it’s one of the least funded agencies that they found around the nation,” she said about the board that she now serves on.
“That’s a fair comment,” added committee chairman John Melendez.