PROJECT APPROACH CASE HISTORY-Town of Fort Myers Beach Trolley

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Situational Analysis:
High season traffic over the Matanzas Bridge onto the north end of Fort Myers Beach was becoming a nightmare for the tourists as well as local residents who needed to go on or off the island. Town Council voted to implement a Park ‘n’ Ride Trolley program. 

Marketing Objectives:
Communicate the Town’s efforts to ease traffic for local residents and still provide an option for travelers to easily get to the beach. Our goal was to convince people to leave their cars behind and take a trolley to the beach. Note that as a local government entity, our client was using tax dollars to purchase trolleys and invest in the infrastructure needed to implement this idea. Trolley stops, benches, signage, trolley drivers, and—as it turned out—an HOV, or high occupancy vehicle lane needed to be constructed to make this happen. This required the cooperation of County government officials, as well as the Florida Department of Transportation.

Research, Planning, and Strategy:
AboveWater worked with members of the Town Council and the Mayor of Fort Myers Beach to prepare materials to appeal to the County and State for their support of the Park ‘n Ride beach trolley. It was imperative that the service be free to riders in order to convince them to leave their cars behind and save money on beach parking meters. Once we got their blessing, we planned a roll-out of an intensive advertising communication campaign to let people know the trolley existed. Communication methods included:

Local newspaper ads
Roadside signage and magnetic signs on the trolleys themselves
A hot air balloon in the designated parking lot for Park ‘n’ Ride guests
A radio jingle (that people actually sang on the trolley as they traveled past motorists stuck in traffic on the bridge!)
Informational flyers and posters on display at the beach and at area businesses
Co-op television ads with LeeTran, who operated the trolley
Broadcast media coverage with TV crews attending the “maiden” trip across the bridge
Press releases in local magazines and newspapers     

Results:
AboveWater launched the Park ‘n’ Ride beach trolley campaign and successfully attracted 200,000 passengers within a four-month period (Jan – April). AboveWater’s work on this local campaign to promote ridership on a beach trolley made national news and even prompted interest from Laguna Beach, California seeking a similar solution to overcrowding during busy tourist seasons. The agency earned a National Silver Anvil Certificate of Achievement from the Public Relations Society of America in 2006 for our work with the Town of Fort Myers Beach.