GO Transit helps riders define their ‘GO Time’

The transit agency aims to drive ridership by showing customers how taking the bus and train can help them maximize their time.


GO Transit made its debut at the Canadian International Auto Show this year in style. A dramatic video placed the GO Bus on par with pumped-up reveals from major auto brands, helping to generate excitement and draw interest in bus ridership.

Now, as parent company Metrolinx continues down a new long-term strategic approach to driving bus and train ridership in the Greater Toronto Area and the Golden Horseshoe regions of Ontario (GTHA), GO Transit has launched a campaign with BBDO that takes a similarly “disruptive” approach to communicating the value of taking GO.

“What’s fantastic about what we did at the International Auto Show is that we proved that creativity and a great idea can drive ridership, and we’re still seeing that now,” says Metrolinx CMO Mark Childs. At a time when many North American transit agencies are struggling to increase ridership, GO Transit saw 4.1% year-over-year growth for the period ending in July.

Five online videos under the theme of “Find Your GO Time” communicate a human truth connected to the company’s day-to-day business, Childs says, but in a way that is “not taking ourselves too seriously, but bringing to life the benefit of taking GO Transit in a lighthearted way that is relevant, connected.”

Essentially, people lack time, and GO Transit can help maximize it by allowing riders to make the most of the time they would otherwise spend commuting (an idea that was part of the auto show effort). As the spots show, that time can be spent studying, sleeping or even bonding with your children. PHD Canada is on media duties for the campaign.

“Our customers rely on us to get them where they need to be, when they need to be,” Childs says. “Our hope is that in the time it takes you to get from A to B that we’ve given something back beyond the transit travel experience.”

Metrolinx1In addition to the spots, GO Transit has dynamic billboards in-market along the 400 highway series in the GTHA to catch drivers at a time when they may be sitting in traffic. A transit shelter campaign is aimed at reaching pedestrians and customers who may be transferring between transit companies, and Childs says GO has “stepped up” its social media game with executions that provide examples of reasons to uses it services, such as heading to cottage country on a Friday evening or entering Toronto for an event like the Canadian National Exhibition.

Since attending the International Auto Show, GO Transit has continued to activate the brand at other shows. It participated in the Honda Indy in July with a double-decker bus decaled as a racing car that transported Indy fans between the Lakeshore West and Exhibition Go train stations. It also attended the CNE in August.