Sacramento’s youth get their ride on with RydeFreeRT

A recent survey involving three Sacramento Unified schools found that approximately one in four students reported missing at least one day of school in the six weeks prior to the survey because of transportation issues.
Nothing should keep kids from getting to and from school or after school jobs.

When Sacramento City Councilmember Jay Schenirer teamed up with Sacramento Regional Transit to tackle this very issue, he had our full support. When he asked 3fold to team up and help get the word out, we were enthusiastically all in.

“By eliminating transportation barriers, we’re increasing chances for more young people to succeed in school, career and life.”
– Councilmember Schenirer
Kids who attend school regularly do better in school, leading to a stronger work force. The program also offers working parents more transportation options.

The RydeFreeRT program is focused on combatting chronic absenteeism in schools and offering area youth more options for transportation to and from after-school jobs. With RydeFreeRT, youth (transitional kindergarten through 12th grade) can ride the entire Sacramento RT transit network, including Sacramento RT buses, light rail, and SmaRT Ride on-demand microtransit service, all day, any day of the week, and all year long.

The program also hopes to create lifelong public transit riders by instilling the habit at a young age. Research shows, the more people ride transit the higher a city’s quality of life tends to be, not to mention the positive impact on the environment it creates in the long run.

The approach.
Step 1: Take stakeholders beyond the idea to become contributors to the solution.

Partnering with Sacramento RT, the City of Sacramento, and Sacramento City Unified School District (SCUSD), we were able to involve each stakeholder in the overall strategy. Gathering stakeholders into a single place ensured everyone could understand each other’s priorities and concerns. This created opportunities to problem solve and align in the community for the benefit of everyone.

Step 2: Find out what actual youth riders think and want to know.

We recruited an all-youth focus group to tell us what they wanted to see and hear about the program and what would inspire them to ride. This gave kids a feeling of ownership for the program, leading to an authentic and enthusiastic influencer team for reaching their peers.

Their feedback was key to the creation of the name, brand, and overall look of the program materials and awareness campaign. This included take home packets distributed to all the SCUSD schools and handed out to students, a bus pass design, and a landing page featuring key information about the program: RYDEFreeRT.com

Step 3: Get the word out.

With the partners aligned and actively involved, they were key to pushing information about Ryde Free RT out to their respective audiences. To expand on these efforts, 3fold supported Sacramento RT by creating assets for use in traditional out-of-home advertising, including bus wraps, billboards, and print and digital ads.

Additionally, two days before the launch event, we hosted a press tour with two radio opportunities and one Spanish TV opportunity, as well as other media outreach activities. Media efforts led to more than 90 media placements locally, statewide, and nationally.

Step 4: Hold a memorable launch event.

By hosting the Ryde Free RT event at a local high school instead of a transit station, the event positioned youth riders as the heart of the program. It was more than a transit initiative, it was about helping a city’s kids reach their potential. The youth influencer team gave human faces to the story, leading to more engaging stories and boosting media coverage.

Student riders were key participants in the speaking program, which also included: U.S. Congresswoman Doris Matsui, Sacramento Mayor Darrel Steinberg, Sacramento RT General Manager/CEO Henry Li, Sacramento City Unified School District Board President Jessie Ryan, and Vice President of External Affairs for Sutter Health Keri Thomas. Councilmember Jay Schenirer acted as MC and keeping the audience energized.