Mid-Minnesota driver recruitment campaign garners attention

male driver in car wearing a face covering
MMRTCC transportation resource coordinator Terry Smith

The Mid-Minnesota Rural Transportation Coordinating Council has long been aware that a shortage of professional and volunteer drivers has been a significant barrier to providing rides in its region (Kandiyohi, McLeod, Meeker and Renville counties).

This past spring, the MMRTCC obtained MnDOT approval for repurposing otherwise-unused funds to promote driving opportunities to area residents. Transportation resource coordinator Terry Smith first developed a small multimedia campaign to publicize the opportunity to sign up for a local volunteer-driver program. Smith also designed a parallel campaign to promote the benefits of driving occupations. He hoped to attract those who might drive a transit bus or work for a provider of non-emergency medical transportation or a specialized transportation service. He shared the news via the region's largest radio broadcast company as well as through smaller AM stations, Minnesota Public Radio, and local newspapers. The ads direct listeners and readers to the MMRTCC's "Ride Resources" web page and are also provided Smith's contact information.

volunteer driver unloading groceries from car

When Smith is contacted, he screens for location and interests, then he provides a warm handoff to an appropriate service provider. The provider determines which candidates are a good fit to help the region's non-drivers get to medical appointments, social engagements, and other activities.

In addition, Smith has been raising awareness in other ways besides paid ads. Recently, the region's largest newspaper published a front-page story, and the local public television station broadcast a report on the need for volunteer drivers. Smith hopes to publicize the need for drivers through local radio interviews, blog posts, and public presentations. He recently spoke with a local service club about incorporating volunteer driving into their service mission, and he has consulted with other RTCCs interested in similar efforts. To learn more, contact Terry.Smith@mmrdc.org.

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