FTVG 2020/21: The Manchester Ad Collective

by Dong Zhao, Sarah Kumeta, Steven Russell and Tafta Nugraha


We believe that the solution for a sustainable future of transport is already here. While we acknowledge the excitement and potential surrounding emerging technologies such as autonomous and electric vehicles, we are already living among tried-and-tested efficient transport modes: active travel and the public transport system (AT/PT).  However, there are stigmas surrounding the use of our bus and rail services. Even in places like Manchester where the tram, rail, and bus networks provide sufficient level of services, owning and driving a car is still seen as aspirational. This mind-frame contributes to a negative loop of public transport use, where reduced passengers lead to a reduced incentive to improve services, leading to further decreased patronage.

As transport professionals, we understand the benefit of public transport and the need to increase its mode share. However, this understanding is difficult to convey to the masses. In our project, therefore, we aim to develop a campaign strategy to personalise and present the evidence of
sustainable travel choice and their benefits to the public.  Further, we position our project as a starting point to bring together public transport stakeholders which include the operators, health authorities, and wider communities to come together and lend their support for the campaign with the goal of behaviour change at scale.


Manchester was selected as a pilot site and using analysis of the ACORN Consumer groups, we decided to focus the research on young suburban families in the suburbs of Chorlton and Levenshume. We felt that younger people are potentially more susceptible to making changes that have the potential to result in longer-term behaviour change, compounding the impact over a longer lifespan. To understand the full impact of a shift to public transport, we first mapped the cost and benefit elements of private and public transport modes then calculated a generalised cost for undertaking a public transport trip versus a car-based trip from Chorlton and Levenshume to Central Manchester.

The team held a series of three user engagement sessions recruiting 15 residents of Chorlton and Levenshulme, aged 24-35 and identifying as being a regular car user.  The main purpose of the focus groups was to understand current barriers to public transport, preconceptions, and test what messaging may be relevant to create a shift in mindset.

Headline Findings

To promote positive behaviour change, we drew on the insights from our focus groups, so that the direction taken has the best chance of resonating with our target demographic of young suburban families.

We worked with Creative Spark, a local creative agency to develop a targetted campaign; Happy B-Day – where B stands for sustainable travel: boots, bikes and buses. It could even expand to
included ‘borrowed’ transport: scooters, e-bikes and car clubs.

Through this project, we have recognised the importance of making the benefits of using sustainable transport modes to the user. Therefore, a key output of this project is a ‘Travel Benefit Calculator’, where another area, city, transport authority etc. can input information on their transport network, and at the push of a button, receive key information about the potential benefits to individuals i.e. CO2 reduction, calories burnt, KM walked etc.

We believe this approach is replicable in many other areas, with targeted campaigns similar to ‘B-Day’ backed up by quantifiable evidence from our Travel Benefit Calculator chaining travellers’ perceptions and normalising sustainable modes.

Download the report here: FTVG – Group 5 Final Deliverable

Download the technical note on the travel benefit calculator here:  FTVGTeam 5 – Additonal Calculation Info


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