Tyne and Wear Metro's marketing team are in line for a top national award, after passenger numbers rose to their highest for five years.
The Chartered Institute for Marketing has named Metro as a finalist in the prestigious Team of the Year category, where it will compete with household names such as Direct Line, Standard Life and O2.
Marketing campaigns have highlighted the good value and convenience offered by Pop smart cards and student and season tickets, and featured a new friendly ‘Metro cube’ character.
The award honour comes after passenger numbers on Metro topped 40 million in 2015 – up 13% over the last two years and at their the highest since 2011. It recognises Nexus, which owns and manages Metro, jointly with DB Regio, which operates stations and trains on Nexus’ behalf.
However, the recognition is just days after South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck called for DB Regio to be stripped of its contract due to the service being plagued by hold ups.
The Labour MP wants an overhaul of the Metro system after receiving complaints from commuters.
Kerry Leng, marketing manager for Nexus, said: “One in every eight passengers is new to Metro in the last two years. We have invested in attractive and innovative marketing campaigns to help make Metro the fastest growing light rail system outside London.
“Nexus is a public body and makes no profit from Metro, but every new passenger helps support the cost of running the service, while underlining how vital it is to the local economy.”
David De Ivey, Marketing Controller for DB Regio, said: “We’re delighted to have been nominated jointly for this award. To ensure the money we spend on media was used as efficiently as possible, we utilised emerging new technology to reach our target audience in their homes, tailoring messaging to speak to distinct groups of potential Metro customers.
“This approach was aligned with our overall strategy to boost awareness of the brand which we achieved by taking a number of high profile digital advertising sites on the main arterial routes in the region.”
Metro launched its first television adverts for more than a decade last summer, when it introduced the new Metro cube character.
After holding talks with Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, Andrew Jones over the future of the service, Mrs Lewell-Buck said: "It remains totally unacceptable no one is prepared to take responsibility for repeated Metro system failures."