Local Firm Manage Transit Watch Update

August 15, 2006
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GRAND RAPIDS — Local strategic marketing and research firm Hidalgo & De Vries spearheaded the retooling of the Federal Transit Administration’s Transit Watch toolkit.

Transit Watch is a public awareness campaign designed to assist transit passengers and employees in maintaining a safe operating environment. Originally launched in 2003, much of the nation’s transit industry and the companies that served it had grown concerned that the toolkit was in need of an update.

Scott Kearney, Hidalgo & De Vries vice president of strategic services, was intimately familiar with these issues through his tight transit connections as a former vice president at Grand Rapids seating manufacturer American Seating. His firm was tapped by the FTA to investigate how transit agencies were using the materials and make recommendations for the update.

“They wanted to know how people were using it and how much the agencies had invested in putting it forward,” Kearney said. “They wanted recommendations on what improvements could be made and how it could be used to create a synergy between agencies and citizens.”

Stakeholders wanted to know if Transit Watch was being used in multilingual situations. They also were concerned, in light of the terrorist attacks in London and Madrid, with the quality of unattended baggage programs and the frequency of emergency announcements.

Through research of the nation’s top 60 transit agencies, regardless of mode, Hidalgo & De Vries created two new national campaigns for unattended baggage and a new campaign for emergency evacuations, and made recommendations for policy changes in emergency announcement frequency. It also translated the original campaign into Spanish and penned a strategy to link Transit Watch with state and local Citizen Corps councils.

The updated Transit Watch, created in partnership with the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration, was unveiled early last week and distributed to transit bodies across the nation.    

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