Zhappo Studios and the Riverside Transit Agency (RTA) celebrated the news that they received a Grand Prize national award for its promotion of a $5 pass program that used a shoestring budget to boost ridership during the pandemic.

The award was part of the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) 2022 Annual AdWheel Awards, which judges marketing and communications campaigns among North American transit agencies. Zhappo Studios and RTA's award-winning promotion was hatched during the fall of 2021, when ridership continued to be down due to the pandemic. In hopes of jump-starting sluggish ridership, the two agencies developed a promotion that offered customers 30-Day passes for just $5. RTA relied heavily on social media advertising, as well as flyers inside buses, signs at bus stops, promotions on our website, publications and rider alerts.

Sometimes the best campaigns are the cheapest. That was the case for RTA, which spent less than $10,000 on the marketing and social media campaign that increased ridership by nearly 20 percent and 40 percent in October and November 2021, respectively. More good news came at the end of the year when RTA got word that the Zhappo Studios campaign had earned First Place in the Category: Best Marketing and Communications to Support Ridership or Sales | Shoestring Tactic and ultimately the prestigious Grand Award, meaning it was top among all North American transit agencies.