Augsburg Students Score 200% on Transit Test

The Freshman Class at Augsburg College signed on to a transit promotion at double the expected rate, confirming Metro Transit’s hypothesis that new students are an important market segment to reach during a formative time of transition. 

The Central Corridor Anchor Partnership is committed to boosting transit use by students and employees by 5% in five years.  Metro Transit developed a pilot project with the Partnership to provide each Augsburg freshman a Go To card loaded with $20 at the beginning of student orientation, with the offer that students who loaded $10 on their card by October 1 would gain $45 more in value. AugSem Freshmen Class Go To Pass

Historically, Augsburg students’ use of the College Pass, an unlimited ride card sold to college students each semester, has been quite low -- only 0.4% of the student body bought cards in 2014.  The Partnership set a goal of persuading 15% of the Freshman Class to spend $10 on their Go To cards, or 72 students.  By October 1, 146 students had signed on, confirming the wisdom of targeting new students and using the Go To stored value cards to encourage students to try transit.

Written into the curriculum

Augsburg wrote the transit experience into the Freshman seminar curriculum, as each new student used their transit card for an AugSem excursion on City Service day.  Assistant Professor Kristen Chamberlin took advantage of the transit passes to take her Environmental Communications class outside the classroom.  Chamberlin’s class stenciled storm drains with the goal of promoting watershed stewardship and discouraging people from placing waste in the drains.  “I wouldn’t be able to teach this course if it weren’t for the Go To cards and the Green Line,” she noted.

Transit is also seen as part of the urban college lifestyle, connecting the campus to great urban amenities in the Twin Cities.  “I haven’t had a chance to explore the Twin Cities yet,” noted student Max Werner.  “I am really yearning to use that Go To card.”  Jordan Parschall, another student said that attending a college in the central city with good access to transit was a major factor in his college choice.  “One of the reasons I came to Augsburg was that I was sick and tired of driving!” Parschall exclaimed.  “I will be using my Go To card this week to go to a meeting off campus.” 

Student-led campaign

Clearly one key element of the successful transit promotion was the leadership of Augsburg students Sulin Phat and Anisa Sharif, two interns who helped to shape a communications campaign to market the Go To card offer to the Freshman class.  Phat, a senior communications major at Augsburg, found the opportunity to plan and implement this pilot initiative great practical experience in her field of study.  “I really felt challenged to step out of my comfort zone,” Phat reflected.  “And I learned the value of collaborating on creative ideas, especially through the opportunity to implement and test these ideas in a short campaign.” Anisa Sharif, Intern

Sulin Phat, InternSharif is a junior history major who served as a counselor in Augsburg's Scrubs Camp and also has experience in community organizing.  She is a strong believer in public transit, and a passionate advocate for Light Rail.  “This campaign really solidified my thinking about transportation,” Sharif commented.  “It is so important, and I think our project made other Augsburg students jealous of the Go To card offer to the Freshman class.”  

Transit official encouraged

Metro Transit director Brian Lamb is pleased with the results of this pilot effort.  "Asking anyone to try something new can be an interesting proposition," Lamb said. "We are thrilled that 146 Augsburg students took us up on this offer. It will surely help to guide our thinking as we refine our marketing plans."