The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (CTRMA) is an independent government agency created in 2003 to improve the transportation system in Travis and Williamson Counties in Texas. Its mission is to implement innovative, multimodal transportation solutions that reduce congestion and create transportation choices to enhance quality of life and economic vitality.
Infrastructure and Toll Road Mix
Central Texas is known as a major growth region in the U.S. For more than a decade, demographic experts have estimated that approximately 150 new residents have come to the region every day. The need for new roadways has been obvious but funding to build the infrastructure wasn’t available until the state of Texas gave the green light to include toll roads in the region’s transportation mix.
Toll roads had traditionally been built in low-density areas. The new generation of toll roads in Central Texas would be built inside of existing urban right-of-way and include segments of projects that had already begun construction as tax-funded roads. This collision of issues turned toll roads into a political hot potato. Public sentiment soured on the idea of toll roads and political pressure on infrastructure leaders to change course increased dramatically.
Communications, Marketing & Toll Road Education
CTRMA hired Hahn Public to help turn the tide. Our agency was asked to provide communications and marketing services for CTRMA’s 183A toll road and to market TxTag – an electronic transponder front window sticker for automatic collection of toll fees. Our scope quickly expanded to include supporting the agency’s efforts to educate the public about the need for toll roads and continued investment in driving infrastructure.
Hahn Public’s website team created a series of web properties – MobilityAuthority.com, MoPacExpress.com, ManorExpressway.com, 183A.com and PayTexasToll.com –– to serve as home bases to which public attention could be driven. Our creative team loaded these websites with assets to include maps, fact sheets, news releases, videos, special reports, marketing and education pieces, presentations, e-newsletters and other collateral.
Once established, we began to execute a campaign to drive visitor traffic to the Authority’s websites. The fully integrated campaign included earned media, social media and targeted advertising placed through television, local movie theaters, radio and in local print publications.
Our team also created and direct-mailed newsletters and promotional pieces to households in the toll road corridor, secured sponsorships and advertising opportunities at local community events and with schools and youth athletic organizations. We turned TxTag marketing into a cause-marketing campaign by linking sales of TxTags to affiliated non-profit organizations. The program was embraced by 26 community groups, churches and schools — each with their own network of contacts.
Toll Road Exceeds Expectations
When it was time to open 183A, Hahn Public’s special events team went to work. We designed a grand opening celebration that attracted more than 4,500 attendees (three times the anticipated turnout) and generated more than 25 media stories. More important, usage of the toll road exceeded expectations by more than 250% since opening.
As a result of our campaign, TxTag penetration increased to an incredible 84% just months after 183A opened for drivers — among the highest tag penetration rates in the United States. These efforts were complemented by an additional heavy-lift once the agency made the decision to go cashless, requiring drivers to pay by mail or through transponder.
In addition, continued public education efforts on CTRMA’s behalf — including production of public meetings involving more than 1,000 citizens — resulted in a number of additional governmental approval of toll way facilities in the region in including the Manor Expressway, Bergstrom Expressway and SH45.
Hahn Public’s work on behalf of CTRMA was recognized in awards from the National Association of Government Communicators and the Public Relations Society of America–Austin.