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Thursday, March 12, 2015 by Courtney Griffin
CapMetro committee to create partnership policy
Board members with the Capital Metro Operations, Planning and Safety committee directed staff to begin crafting a board policy that gives parameters around future sponsors and partnerships at their committee meeting Wednesday.
On the heels of a presentation overviewing CapMetro’s 2015 South by Southwest operations, Marketing and Communications Vice President Dan Dawson revealed the agency is partnering with Lucy’s Fried Chicken, a local business with two locations on the MetroRapid bus route, for a SXSW event.
“We hope (out-of-towners) ride Capitol Metro, but Lucy’s Fried Chicken has a local, homegrown following that’s grown year after year,” Dawson said. “And these are the people we want and hope will not only ride us at the special event, but try us and ride us more often.”
CapMetro’s logo and information about MetroRapid will appear on the Lucy’s Fried Chicken event flier as part of the partnership, Dawson said. He added that the event is a partnership, meaning CapMetro provided no money, but did provide materials and staff.
City of Austin Citizen Representative Ann Stafford questioned if there were any board policies providing criteria for the types of businesses the agency sponsors or partners with.
“There’s a pretty big expenditure of time and money on CapMetro’s part, and what’s our metric to ensure that the investment we’re making is actually increasing ridership overall and increasing awareness?” Stafford asked.
Currently, the Marketing and Communications Department evaluates partnerships on a case-by-base basis to determine the benefit for CapMetro, Dawson said. Metrics are put into place after the team determines what benefit the partnership will bring.
Stafford said that most other governmental agencies have policies in place, and she was concerned about CapMetro engaging in the promotion of a for-profit business.
“If we are going to do this with for-profit businesses, then we need to have some policies in place that determine how many we do in a year, how they are selected, how they can apply for a partnership,” Stafford said. “Because I suspect this is going to open up opportunities, and we need to be prepared.”
As similar policies are in place guiding the types of businesses CapMetro can work with in advertising and sales, Dawson said he could see if they can be extended to his department.
Kerri Butcher, chief legal counsel, said the policy discrepancy has been on her “radar” because CapMetro has been getting more requests for partnerships and sponsorships recently.
“The agency has an in-kind contribution policy that requires sign-offs and measures of value, given and received, for in-kind contribution,” Butcher said. “That doesn’t cover all of these contributions, but it is one piece of it.”
Former City Council Member Chris Riley also asked if CapMetro had coordinated or would coordinate with other transportation entities in the area during SXSW’s events.
“South by is an interesting time for everybody in the transportation field, all kinds of new things get tried out during South by,” Riley said, mentioning several start-ups coming to the area to show off their products. “But, innovations work best when it’s not a bunch of independent actors that are in silos, but when there’s coordination and communication between those actors to see what works and if we can all work together as a network.”
Dawson said CapMetro has been working with RideScout, a mobile app that allows trip planning from a variety of different sources.
Bus and Paratransit Services Vice President Dottie Watkins said her department has mainly worked with the SXSW event organizers.
“We don’t have an ongoing meeting of sorts with the Uber, Lyft and bike share folks,” Watkins said. “We can work with them to see who is providing what for an event and see if there’s an opportunity for further coordination.”
CapMetro plans to increase services starting March 13. Main changes include extending the hours and increasing the frequency of several evening bus and rail routes, and running buses every 15 minutes to and from the airport March 13-23 during regular hours.
For the complete schedule, visit the website.
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