Austin Votes for Transit Expansion

The Opportunity: Guiding Community Education on a Historic $7.1 Billion Ballot Measure to Fund a Transit System Expansion.

After two previous failed attempts and with exploding population growth, political leaders in Austin, Texas, were considering placing another tax initiative on the local ballot for voters to consider increasing funding for the region’s growing transit needs. 

Capital Metro was tasked with educating the public about the $7.1 billion “Project Connect” ballot initiative, but without making any effort to persuade voters on how they should vote.

Key Elements

  • Target public information efforts at all voters, not only certain voter segments.
  • All public information must be fact-based and must not recommend any voter action or opinion.
  • Share custom messages with specific audiences that live and work along the project’s corridors.

Measuring Public Interest

AlphaVu first created reporting for Capital Metro’s board and the Austin city council showing historic public opinion on a range of transportation issues. This reporting was segmented by city council district so board and city council members could specifically see how their own constituents felt about traffic congestion, transportation safety, transit service, and funding options. With this information in hand, the city council voted to put the funding initiative on the ballot.

Insights to Deliver the Right Message to the Right Audience

AlphaVu then spent the next several months working with Capital Metro’s marketing and communications team helping to make sure all local voters had access to relevant information about the funding proposal. Dozens of target groups were created so information about specific areas of funding could be sent to the voters most impacted by specific projects. 

All voters received information, but custom messages were presented to specific residents likely to have an interest in or to directly benefit from projects in the Project Connect plan.

AlphaVu measured social engagement along project corridors to advise on specific messaging that resonated with Capital Metro’s community.

Measuring Success

Over the course of this effort, positive public engagement with Capital Metro skyrocketed. This positive engagement continued ever after the election, and the agency’s brand awareness and public sentiment scores were at an all-time high. 

The effort was efficient, highly respectful of the use of taxpayer funds, and simultaneously served to significantly enhance the agency brand in the community.

The ballot measure for Project Connect passed with 58% voter support.

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