Sound Transit is expanding regional transit across three counties in the Puget Sound area. A planning effort called ST3 was initiated. Public affairs firm EnviroIssues led strategic public engagement, outreach, and communications associated with this planning effort. The goal of ST3 is mass transit that has the power to offer accessibility to an entire region, especially those who are dependent on it but may be least able to afford it. EnviroIssues implemented a unique approach for cost-effective outreach across a three-county region to engage a diverse audience and worked with DHM to target geographic, demographic, and cultural subaudiences to drive engagement and participation.
Having learned from three previous comment periods that social media and third-party notifications were the top drivers of web traffic and online survey participation, DHM recommended expanding the approach to translated content as well. Comment forms in seven languages provided overviews of the ST3 draft plan and were accessed through translated online advertisements and Facebook posts.
Drawing from its multicultural and broad socioeconomic experience, DHM worked with Sound Transit and EnviroIssues to build an outreach tool kit for nonprofits, social service providers, and stakeholder organizations who reach broader audiences. The tool kit included English language and translated general information about the project and social posts, oriented by relevant geography around the region. We used graphics to supplement written content to help to grab the attention of a wide variety of audiences. A graphic-rich website, soundtransit3.org, was developed, allowing nearly 60,000 surveys to be completed during two comment periods.
With the release of the ST3 draft lan in 2016, the website had over 183,000 unique web visitors which led to 35,000 survey submissions, and 20,000 combined narrative comments in 40 days. All this led to a successful ballot measure that resulted in ST3 passing in the next election.