SWTA Spotlight Award Winners for Transit Marketing Excellence

Allyne Clark & Michael Jiron, Rio Metro RTD - Overall Spotlight Winners
Allyne Clarke & Michael Jiron, Rio Metro

DALLAS, TX, August 2017 – The South West Transit Association (SWTA) announced its 30TH Annual Spotlight Award winners during the Transit Marketing Workshop held at the Westin Hotel, Dallas Texas. The SPOTLIGHT Award is the oldest transit marketing and advertising award given in the United States and is awarded for excellence in a total transit marketing campaign with a “biggest-bang-for-the-buck” emphasis.

The 2017 Spotlight award was presented to Rio Metro Regional Transit District, Albuquerque, New Mexico for their Lifetime Freedom Pass campaign. The goal of the campaign was to inform riders and non-riders that they can now get the lifetime Freedom Pass if they have a Veterans Administration (VA) card, and to increase veteran ridership by using the Freedom Pass.

Rio Metro competed in Spotlight Award Category II, less than 1 million passenger trips annually, then won the over-all competition.

The Judge’s commented, “Clearly, the success of this program depended on effective leverage of community partnerships, so kudos on creating a major benefit for a vulnerable population and generating more buzz for transit at the same time.”

All categories in the Spotlight and Hit-the-Spot competition are separated by transit rides provided per year.

Category 1. Rural or Tribal Public Transportation Providers
Category 2. 5307 public transportation providers with 1 million or fewer passenger trips per year
Category 3. 5307 public transportation providers with 1 million – 8 million passenger trips per year
Category 4. 5307 public transportation providers with more than 8 million, but fewer than 20 million passenger trips annually
Category 5. 5307 public transportation providers with more than 20 million passenger trips annually

Other Spotlight First Place award winners, by category included:

Category III, Denton County Transportation Authority, North Texas Xpress Bus Service. Judge’s comments: “The campaign was interesting and seemed to be very effective. The creative was good.”

Category IV, Fort Worth Transportation Authority, North Fort Worth Bus Service Expansion Marketing Campaign. Judge’s comments: “It sounds as though you met a ridership increase objective for the new destinations. Great media mix for the money!”

Category V, Valley Metro, Change Your Game Plan. Judge’s comments: “This is a clean and memorable campaign. I like the clever creative use of tying changing behavior to a game. It is upbeat and attention getting. Great graphics and design, and far-reaching with multiple social media outlets radio and online. Well-balanced.”


Four additional categories, called Hit the Spot awards, give transit systems many opportunities to show off marketing and education efforts in single element projects.

Hit the Spot - Print Media
Category II, Capital Area Rural Transportation System, SMTX The Bus Pocket Map, Judge’s Comments: “Great concept for ease of use. Very professionally laid out.”

Category III, Wichita Transit, Say YES! Program, Judge’s Comments: “Love this initiative! Many parents struggle with how to keep the kids entertained and safe over the summer. Wichita Transit became part of the solution. When parents expressed concern about their kids riding solo on the bus, the agency was quick to respond with individualized training. Great initiative. Print materials are visually appealing.”

Category V, Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Ride METRO to the Rodeo, Judge’s Comments: “Excellent use of existing out of home resources. Great results! Overall a very good campaign.”

Hit the Spot - Electronic Media
Category II, Capital Area Rural Transportation System, SMTX The Bus Cinema Ads, Judge’s Comments: “Great bang for the buck and excellent use of resources. Music and video created a dramatic, catchy flair.”

Category III, Denton County Transportation Authority, A-train vs. I-35E Comparison Marketing Video, Judge’s Comments: “Very nice effort, especially considering you don’t have video production experience. I like the idea of switching back and forth between the car and train experience.”

Category V, VIA Metropolitan Transit, “VIA Moves Me” Rider Stories, Judge’s Comments: “The diversity of the vignettes really showcased how to build the use of public transportation into your everyday life.”

Hit the Spot - Social Media
Category I, JAMM Transit, JAMM’n in July, Judge’s Comments: “Good content and effort to educate community on what agency does. Very good bang for the buck.”

Category II, Capital Area Rural Transportation System, SMTX The Bus Rollout, Judge’s Comments: “Excellent results for a no-budget project! Great messaging about the features of the new buses.”

Category III, Denton County Transportation Authority, #AskDCTA Monthly Series Launch, Judge’s Comments: “Engaging idea that is realized with solid graphic support. The video component using real employees highlights the human side of transit which is integral. It also adds a unique personal touch to the campaign.”

Category V, VIA Metropolitan Transit, VIVA Holidays, Judge’s Comments: “Simple, effective and well-executed campaign. The designs and messaging are easy to understand. Great strategy to engage partners and I especially like the elves street teams. It personifies the agency in a friendly way, and giving away free service is a huge and expensive gift that I’m sure the community appreciated. Great campaign!”

Hit the Spot – Events
Category II, Capital Area Rural Transportation System, #LovetheFuture – Ride Free Friday for Earth Day. Judge’s Comments: “Great hashtag and collaboration with other organizations. Logos were high quality.”

Category III, Rock Region METRO, 30th Anniversary Celebration, Judge’s Comments: “The invitation was professional and conservative with concise messaging fitting to the 30th anniversary. The use of the Rock Region logo as a visual motif was used effectively as a design element.”

Category V, TIE:
Dallas Area Rapid Transit, DART to the State Fair, Judge’s Comments: “Great metrics, great Bang for the Buck. Well planned and executed promotion. The Survival Guide was a great idea.”
Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Dump the Pump, Judge’s Comments: “Excellent results on a small budget.”

The 30th Annual Spotlight Award entries were evaluated by a group of independent marketing professionals from across the SWTA Region. The Spotlight Award competition honors outstanding work for a total transit marketing campaign. Entries are Judged on the following criteria: 1) “Bang for the Buck Quotient” – impact or success relative to cost; 2) Appeal – overall campaign presentation; 3) Execution; 4) Message; 5) Quality of Production; and 6) Effectiveness.

SWTA was formed in 1979 and is a regional transit association with members from eight states (Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas). SWTA’s mission is to provide a community of education, communication, and advocacy to strengthen its members and their ability to better provide public transportation services and products in the communities they serve.

Back to All News »

News Archive