CTA Promoting Public Transit as Alternative to High Gas Prices

August 31, 2005

The Chicago Transit Authority is promoting the use of cost efficient public transportation as an answer to record-high gas prices with 30-second public service announcements (PSAs) that will begin airing Friday, September 2. The PSAs will run on RCN cable television channels in an effort to encourage more people to save money by taking public transit.

The campaign is designed to encourage people who have never tried public transit before, or who have not tried it lately, to take the CTA. It touts public transportation as an affordable alternative to soaring gas prices that gets people to destinations such as work, school, neighborhood attractions, medical appointments and shopping centers efficiently, safely and inexpensively.

Through two separate spots, the PSAs cleverly demonstrate how the soaring cost of gas has impacted the budgets of people who choose to drive. One spot entitled ?Crying? features the front of a gas pump quickly tabulating a gas sale accompanied by the sound of a whimpering, distraught male. At the end of the PSA, viewers are encouraged to try the CTA's $75 30-Day pass for an entire month of unlimited rides.

The second spot entitled 'screaming? promotes the $1.75 single fare payment as a low cost alternative to driving. Viewers see the same gas pump image, but hear a distraught person screaming at how much he is paying for gas.

Gas prices are impacting CTA as well as the general public. CTA reported that fuel expenses year to date through July exceeded the 2005 budget by $4.1 million and are expected to be $10 million over the budget by the end of the year, and it appears there is no relief in sight. As CTA staff prepare the 2006 budget proposal, skyrocketing fuel prices are further adding strain to existing funding issues.

The ads will air at no cost to CTA under a 1994 agreement with RCN (formerly 21st Century Cable). RCN provides CTA air time in exchange for access to fiber optics installed in CTA tunnels that provide cable connections for customers.

The PSAs will air locally over the next few months on the following RCN Cable stations: A & E, CNBC, CNN, ESPN2, FX, The Golf Channel, VH1, USA, TNT, TBS, MTV, MSNBC, Lifetime and The History Channel. In addition, the PSAs will run in October following the CTA's Connections show, which airs four times a day on the City of Chicago's municipal cable channels (23 and 49), and in some suburban areas served by the Comcast cable system.

The spots were originally created for the MetroLINK transit system in Rock Island, Illinois by Wisconsin-based Gunter Advertising. The CTA purchased the spots ? customized for the CTA ? from Gunter Advertising for a cost of $1,275.

The original spots have won numerous awards, including the American Public Transportation Association's (APTA) annual Ad Wheel Grand Award for Television in 2004.

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