Emphasizing Choice in Educating Commuters about Tolled Express Lanes

US 36 Express Lanes

It was one thing to expand and improve US 36 between Denver and Boulder and add Express Lanes to mitigate traffic congestion.

Educating commuters about how to use the new Express Lanes, and reiterating that it wasn’t the only way to travel the highway, was a whole different animal.

CIG seized this public education challenge and responded with a multimedia and integrated communication campaign with the theme “Traffic? I’ll pass.”

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One could say that commuters join rush hour traffic mindlessly, just like a flock of geese, dutifully flying in formation. But what about the one who goes rogue? CIG invited commuters into the mindset of the hero goose who sees a better way and finds a pass around traffic.

CIG molded the “Traffic? I’ll pass.” theme for maximum impact via a variety of modalities, including TV, bus sides, gas pumps, elevators, print and radio. Through careful planning, the campaign reached more than 63 million people in the first phase.

In a survey conducted one month after the Express Lanes opened, 54 percent of customers noted they learned of them through billboards and other advertising efforts.

CIG’s public education program encouraged Denver- and Boulder-area residents to evaluate the traffic they might encounter on US 36 and to learn more about and access different passes (HOV, toll or bus) to improve their trip, and lessen their travel time, between the two cities.

Success in communications enabled and enhanced success in operations.

In the first month, the company managing the Express Lanes on US 36 issued more than 38,000 HOV transponders, on which more than 278,000 transactions were tracked. With single-use toll transactions near 1 million in the same time period, it’s likely the HOV pass numbers will rise as commuters adopt new ways of traveling the corridor. In addition, Phase 1’s 11-mile bikeway quickly attracted a consistent corps of cyclists.