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Saving Tri-Rail Funding from the State of Florida: Three South Florida governmental entities joined together for one of the first cooperative projects to get automobiles off I-95.

Challenge:

• Conduct extensive pre-launch market research to determine rider patterns, preferences and points of resistance. Once research started and a staff organization was being formed, the Legislature threatened to pull all funding for Tri-Rail.

• A difficult communications situation involving three county governments, Dade, Broward and Palm Beach, in addition to various state and federal agencies.

• Lack of public support for public transportation.


Approach:

• When the Florida Legislature was in session, the Tri-Rail budget became a controversy. ECA secured media interviews and editorial board meetings seeking media support for the commuter rail project.

• A full-page ad was designed to run in The Tallahassee Democrat showing the rail cars, the route and statistics on projected ridership. The ad was scheduled to run the day the committee was meeting to pull the state funding. The strategy was to show the service as a completed project so legislators would be hesitant to pull funds.


Results:

• Strategic media placements on Tri-Rail ran statewide endorsing the project.

• The Legislature did not pull the project's budget.
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