Virginia seeks agency help to promote Amtrak lines

RICHMOND, VA: Virginia's Department of Rail and Public Transportation is planning to hire multiple agencies to support several outreach programs. The contracts are collectively worth $5 million.

RICHMOND, VA: Virginia's Department of Rail and Public Transportation is planning to hire multiple agencies to support several outreach programs. The contracts are collectively worth $5 million.

The state will require the firms to manage and expand marketing activities for the department's marketing programs, such as those for Amtrak Virginia, Telework!VA, and Try Transit Week.

Virginia will give the winning agencies three-year contracts with two additional option years. Responses to the RFP are due May 20, with an expected award date of June 28.

The agency search is taking place just four months after the department said Virginia plans to expand Amtrak service to Norfolk, creating a direct route to Washington DC's Union Station and other East Coast destinations.

Transit ridership in the state has increased in recent years from 180.9 million trips in fiscal-year 2010 to 196.4 million trips in FY 2012. Virginia's other Amtrak routes had sizable ridership gains in fiscal year 2012, compared with the previous year, with increases of 14.1% on the Washington-Lynchburg route and 11.9% on the Washington-Newport News route.

The winning firms will also be responsible for developing plans for other projects, including detailed timetables and suggested media-placement options. The contract also includes public participation program support, as well as brand development. Department officials will also need media, public speaking, and communications training.

It was unclear whether there are incumbent agencies working on the contracts. Amtrak Virginia previously worked with Pulsar Advertising on a campaign to promote train service from Richmond to Washington DC and other cities on the East Coast.

A representative from the Department of Rail and Public Transportation did not return requests seeking comment.

In February, the California Department of Transportation granted tmdgroup a $9 million, three-year contract to implement a PR and advertising campaign to promote ridership on the state's Amtrak lines.

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