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Post-pandemic promotion of light rail discussed Thursday March 25, 2021

Planning for a return of customers following the gradual lifting of coronavirus restrictions is well underway say marketing and customer service professionals from across the light rail sector.

However, drawing up detailed plans remains difficult due to uncertainties surrounding the levels of restrictions that will still be in place over the summer months, and potential long-term changes in travel patterns.

During the latest online meeting of the UKTram Marketing, Communications and Customer Services Group, representatives from Manchester, Edinburgh, Sheffield, Nottingham, London, Blackpool, the West Midlands and the Stourbridge Shuttle discussed a range of different approaches.

Jamie Swift, Marketing and Commercial Manager at UKTram, explained: “It really is a chicken and egg scenario, until we start to see customers returning in numbers it’s difficult to see how they are using trams and to put into place marketing initiatives to further boost patronage.

“That said, it’s clear that promoting trams as a Covid-safe form of transport will be vital, with additional cleaning inside trams and at stops among the key messages.

“Providing more flexible ticketing options will also be a priority as promoting traditional season tickets may become less attractive as work patterns change.”

The meeting also heard how many networks recently increased service frequency to pre-pandemic levels, although the re-opening of schools has presented numerous challenges surrounding capacity and face covering compliance.

Revised signage and safety messaging, as well as communications on engineering works carried out on systems during the latest lockdown were also hot topics of conversation.

Jamie added: “There are clearly plenty of challenges ahead as the country emerges from the latest lockdown, but the sector’s marketing and customer services professionals agree that promoting light rail as a safe and ‘green’ option for urban travel is key to future growth.”