Background

The Ottawa Student Transportation Authority (OSTA) is responsible for all home-to-school transportation on behalf of the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) and the Ottawa Catholic School Board (OCSB), servicing over 124,000 students across 227 schools.

Problem

OSTA delivers safe and efficient transportation services at both its Member School Boards using yellow buses, wheelchair accessible buses, school purpose vans and School Active Transportation Programs through various Operators. OSTA’s Operators have had many challenges recruiting and retaining drivers for a number of years. COVID-19 further exacerbated this driver shortage, with fears of getting sick or infecting loved ones resulting in fewer driver applications. Consequently, hundreds of students have experienced route cancellations over the past two years. Operators do not have spare drivers to cover open routes, and as new drivers are recruited, experienced drivers are quitting or going on long-term medical leave.

Solution

Extension Marketing was hired to conduct a public awareness and recruitment campaign to help OSTA and their Operators address the driver shortage.

This was accomplished by:

  1. Establishing OSTA as the campaign leader and champion.
  2. Creating a joint task force (including OSTA, Operators, and Extension Marketing) to review results and share information and best practices on a monthly basis.
  3. Leveraging findings from a 2022 driver survey for creative development and campaign messaging.
  4. Building a new applicant-centered microsite to manage and distribute applications (www.DriveYellow.ca).
  5. Designing and executing a branded multi-channel marketing campaign targeted at six identified applicant groups. Elements of this campaign included:
    1. Social Media Advertising
    2. Search Engine Marketing
    3. Display, Audio, Video, Mobile and Native Digital Advertising
    4. Radio
    5. Print
    6. Television
    7. Outdoor Advertising
    8. PR opportunities
    9. Strategic Partner Opportunities

Results

Extension Marketing, in collaboration with the joint task force, successfully reduced the driver shortage and created a widely seen awareness campaign.

  • Over 13 million campaign impressions and 4,000 application “engagements”.
  • Over 300 applications completed on the DriveYellow.ca microsite.
  • More than 60 new drivers were hired (and counting) with an additional 20 being interviewed.
  • Over 19% application-to-hire ratio (compared to a typical benchmark of between 3% and 7%, per Scouttalent.ca

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