We’re all in the business of selling, whether it’s directly selling products and services, or in a more general sense, bringing others around to follow our directives and buy in to our ideas. Successful sellers learn to probe and listen, understand objections and proceed to take those obstacles out of the picture.
Objections are real, but may be based on faulty information or a lack of knowledge on the subject. This was brought home to me recently in a discussion with an old friend about his negative stance on a likely light rail corridor. He cited his condominium’s proximity to the tracks and the concern about the impact of increased noise on the value of his property as his basis for opposing the project.
I knew his daily commute is frustrating and sometimes he bikes to work to avoid traffic delays. So I asked him if walking to the station, which would be three blocks away, and riding the train to work would be appealing to him and offset his concerns. (We also discussed how the heavily wooded area in which he lives would absorb some of the traffic noise.) His positive responses evolved into a discussion of transit-oriented development and the likelihood that his condo would increase in value due to its proximity to the station. He realized that what is appealing to him will be attractive to others as well, with potential buyers willing to pay a premium for the location, just as buyers have in countless other cities. My friend has a bright new outlook, based on this project’s impact on his daily commute and finances.
However, not everyone will live within walking distance of a station so it is necessary to address the transportation gap in ways that meet the needs of commuters and expand their options. Is parking tight at your stations or do your commuters need to make the first/final mile connections? Adding options such as shuttles, local-use electric vehicles (LEVs) and accommodations for bicycles can take away these very real reasons for not using public transit. And commuters who choose to bike to your station leave parking space available to others. All the many amenities that make biking a truly appealing option can be found in this month’s article on building multimodal transit facilities. Yes, we’re talking about significant budget and operating considerations here, but serving your customers into the next decade starts with the plans you make now.
Learning the needs of your commuters and deploying resources based on your research can be rewarding to both your agency and those you serve. Thankfully there are now plenty of precedents for the services you may be considering, with sources, real-world costs and other pertinent information available. We cover many of these best and innovative practices in our cover profiles and other stories. Be sure to check in with us to see the latest. And if you’re working on a project with aspects that could be applied elsewhere, we’d like to hear from you.