California transportation agency finds cost savings in mobile program

Share this article:

California's Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) has debuted a text messaging program to save money on its communications with passengers and cut down on call center activity.

The agency will begin to promote the initiative, which soft-launched November 25, through street teams and signage at highly used bus stops this week. The service lets passengers text into the transportation agency's call center to find out schedule information.

“We have had huge cutbacks in our bus services and in our marketing budget, and we found that our biggest expenditure for marketing was the call center,” said Stella Lin, marketing manager of OCTA. “We are paying $2 a call, and a lot of people are just calling because they want to know the new bus schedule information. We realized that it would be much more cost-effective to provide this bus schedule information via text message.”

The texting service will help OCTA cut its call center budget, which costs the agency more than $160,000 a month. According to a recent rider survey, published in November, 75% of bus riders have cell phones and 64% have text-enabled cell phones. 

OCTA is working with marketing services firm ExactTarget, which is also its e-mail provider.

“We realized that we could create an interface with our schedule database information and link this to our ExactTarget account, so we can provide bus information via text message,” said Lin.

Passengers can text a bus stop number and route number to “OCTAGO” to receive arrival times of the next three buses at that stop.

California has been hit hard by the recession and has cut many public services. According to the Los Angeles Times, cities and counties were to lose $242 million in transportation funding when Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced his budget in July.

Share this article:

Follow us on Twitter @dmnews

Latest Jobs:

Featured Listings

More in Digital Marketing

News Byte: CX Scores to Take Their Place Beside Price Listings

News Byte: CX Scores to Take Their Place ...

E-commerce aggregator PriceGrabber will begin offsetting price info with service expectations.

Data Byte: Interactive Ad Revenues Exceeding TV for the First Time

Data Byte: Interactive Ad Revenues Exceeding TV for ...

At nearly $43 billion, interactive advertising revenues exceeded broadcast for the first time in 2013.

Marketers: Data Rich and Knowledge Poor

Marketers: Data Rich and Knowledge Poor

While advertisers have become incredibly data-savvy, the most difficult challenge remains causally linking that data to outcomes that really matter.