The marketing programs would not have been possible without the help of the sponsors. For $25,000 or above sponsorship, the corporate logo and name went on the front door of the front cab car. As Bauman explains, "That is the only thing we have ever done advertising wise on our cars and we haven't done it since."
The year leading up to the opening was busy with a myriad of educational programs, promotions and events to educate the community and get the message out there. There was a lot of community involvement which entailed working with the media, the art community, the business community and the schools. Teachers, students and the PTA learned about what was coming through safety programs, the business community was kept informed of the construction process, the art community was involved in the look of the stations and the media worked with DART on a variety of marketing items.
With the art program, members of the community developed artistic value statements about their station, what the area means to their community. Using that statement, the artist would develop an art program or art project that has unique community sentiment. DART kept the program quiet to create an additional "happy" surprise for the communities when the train opened. Bauman shares, "People didn't realize we had this wonderful art program. We have an art on the line self-guided tour and people are so impressed when they see it because it's a community-based art project. They were so excited when they saw the stations with the art."
A great partnership with the media resulted in a 100-day countdown to build excitement and anticipation. It started with an event in the yard where the cars are kept. School children were all holding up little signs they would flip over-100, 99, 98 and so on. "We had them all lined up, the television cameras were there," Bauman explains.
The newspaper had an interesting edition that started on the same day Bauman explains. "The Dallas Morning News ran a banner on the bottom of the inside of its Metro section. It was a banner at the bottom and it started off with a teaser - 'something's coming' and a '100' on there. The next day it was 99, then 98 and you began to see the nose of the car starting to peak out and so people really started to look at this. They didn't know what that was going to be. "As the countdown became lower, the train was scooting out a little more and a little more so finally, by the day before the railcar was out and exposed, people began to know that was going to be the big day of the opening."
The official opening was an event in and of itself. Bauman explains, "We had the official event where the train came into Union Station. We had our senators and the Secretary of Transportation. "Super Saturday was where we had the public come down and ride free. We had people lining up on both sides of the mall, people were so excited about the train." Of course they incorporated other activities into the day that the media would have fun with. Bauman says with a laugh, "We had television and radio stations come down and time whether they could get their cars where they were going faster than the train."
To pull off these fun projects it took a lot of people and a lot of work. "We had a team that met every single week and we met for hours and it was cross-departmental," Bauman asserts. "It was an agency-wide project that worked on this, it wasn't just us." She adds, "It was so much work, the staff was exhausted."
All the hard work paid off for DART. "We've done market research and they've told us, 80-something percent of the people in our 700-square-mile area in 13 cities absolutely have high awareness of DART," Bauman shares. Even the color has become infamous. "This particular shade of yellow, they think of as DART when they see it."
The success from DART has lead to plans for the future as they are now gearing up to double the system. With the $700 million federal funding grant, they will be adding the next 42 miles.