Sharing your Message: Tips and Suggestions from the Île-de-France

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Theme: public transport
Message: territorial equality of public transport.

In order to campaign effectively, it is crucial to defend a strong idea. One of the most innovative proposals of our programme for the regional elections in the Île-de-France advocated transport tickets costing 1 euro in the evenings and on weekends, valid for a single journey by train or bus anywhere in the region, no matter the distance travelled. We tried to incite people to leave their cars in their garages (arguing the financial and environmental benefits); pointed out that the more people use public transport, the safer it is; and highlighted the solidarity inherent in the proposed territorial coverage of the measure (the region = 1 zone).

  • How: handing out fake transport tickets, but also tracts and our programme manifesto
  • Where: train or bus stations, on train platforms, on trains themselves, or in traffic jams
  • When: evenings or weekends
  • Advantage: you come into contact with the users concerned, and the waiting times are favourable for discussing the party’s proposed measures

At train or bus stations. Start conversations with people as they wait. They are unlikely to be in any great rush until their train or bus pulls in – so why not talk a while. Handing them your election programme is a useful way of getting started. On train platforms, be discreet, because, just like at the supermarkets above, this is in most cases not strictly legal…

On the train. We activists also move about and travel by public transport – empathy can help bond with other users. Starting a conversation is usually easy. Young people listen carefully as you explain to them measures that would lower their transport budget, improve public transport conditions, etc. It’s an opportunity also to promote campaigning and to discuss democracy. Remind them the date of the election, remind them to register to vote. We are well-received, exchanging and defending our points of view. It’s a way of improving or fine-tuning your speech, and, with each person that you meet, of discovering new arguments.

In traffic jams. As the drivers sit waiting behind other cars or at traffic lights, it is simple to talk to them about public transport, confronting them with the choices they make. The car is not the answer to all journeys.

It is important to break the ice. Drivers are at home in their cars. You need to get them to open their windows, perhaps by offering them a leaflet. A two-step approach is best: firstly, attract their attention with your campaign material (a flag, a bicycle draped with relevant messages, etc.); secondly, start the dialogue, making sure you let speak those who want to, and otherwise describing the content of your programme or the message on your notice board.

What worked well? On Friday or Saturday evenings, people generally take their cars to go out in Paris or elsewhere. They are ‘obliged’ to do so, since public transport is either not suited to their needs (the last train home leaves too early, low frequency, inaccessible with prams, etc.) or too expensive (8 euros per person for a return ticket): all things considered, two people in a car is far more practical and economical.

Drivers are therefore quick to understand the reasons to defend and advocate an improvement to public transport services and a reduction in the price of tickets. It was particularly easy to engage people in conversation, and very few were hostile or unpleasant towards me. Many listened attentively or seemed willing to talk – if only briefly for some. They left with a smile on their faces, often promising to vote for Europe Écologie.

See also the Campaign Handbook chapters:
Training Staff, Candidates and Volunteers
Developing Messages

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