Data Science Helps Cut Through Holiday Chaos for Transportation and Transit


Holidays are often seen as a chance to relax, an opportunity for reflection thanks to a day or two away from the hectic flow of the regular workplace. But without proper preparation and communication from transportation and transit agencies, holidays can also lead to unpleasant surprises and disrupted plans. A three-day weekend often comes with route changes, lower vehicle availability, more traffic, and closed offices that can leave riders and drivers confused and angry.

Maintaining effective communication around holiday scheduling is critical to avoiding snags and hassles for both riders and transit managers. When to notify riders and drivers of holiday changes in a way that maximizes the reach of the message can be a tricky task.

That’s where data science comes in. The Data Science team at Granicus took a deep dive into govDelivery bulletins that Transit and Transportation customers have sent leading up to holidays. Thanks to having a large number of customers in the space, it’s possible to see the different effects from a variety of sending strategies.

Here are some of the key takeaways:

How many holiday-related bulletins should be sent?

  • Most (84%) account subscribers receive only one bulletin prior to an event
  • On average, 20% of recipients will open the first bulletin.
  • Sending a second bulletin will reach an additional 9% of recipients
  • Sending a third bulletin will reach an additional 5% of recipients

Open rates by number of bulletins sent

When should holiday-related communications be sent?

  • Transportation and Transit accounts typically send holiday-related bulletins four days prior to the event, although open rates do not vary significantly for earlier or later sends.
  • 75% of the Transportation and Transit holiday-related bulletin sends occur between two and six days prior to the event

Recommended delivery strategies for pre-holiday communication

  • When sending only one bulletin before the holiday:
    • Send the bulletin four days before the event
  • When sending two bulletins:
    • Send the first bulletin five days before the event
    • Send the second bulletin two days before the event
  • When sending three bulletins:
    • Send the first bulletin six days before the event
    • Send the second bulletin one day before the event
    • Send the third bulletin on the day of the event

Delivery Strategies for Pre-Holiday CommunicationsWhat should bulletins communicate?

  • Key pre-holiday messaging in a normal year includes:
    • Changes to office hours
    • Changes to transit service
    • Traffic updates
    • Advice on using transit to avoid event parking issues
  • Additional pre-holiday messaging seen in 2020, due to COVID, included:
    • Avoid holiday gatherings
    • Seek out activities that can be done outdoors with social distancing
    • Steps to protect yourself and others
    • Links to more information

Knowing when, how frequently, and what to include in holiday-related messaging can make a significant difference in how riders prepare to use transit and how drivers approach holiday travel. By leveraging the data generated by Granicus’ large number of government customers, transportation and transit departments can develop best practices and strategies that will result in less stressful holidays in the future for both their departments, drivers and riders.

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