Winter Wonder Bus 2018

Case Study, Community Outreach & Involvement, Design, Marketing, Web

APTA Adwheel Award Winner

First Place in the ​Best Marketing and Communications to Increase Ridership or Sales, Partnership Category

We forged a relationship that paved way for a DC Circulator Zoo-to-Metro shuttle.

The DC Circulator Winter Wonder Bus campaign was created to target Washington D.C. resident/visitor riders who travel around the District during the holiday season and families who were planning to attend the annual ZooLights holiday exhibit at the Smithsonian National Zoo.


There was demand for closing the ½ mile transit gap between the Smithsonian National Zoo and the nearest Metro station. Additionally, residents near the Zoo asked for more transit. Our solution was a shuttle service, which we were able to pilot in partnership with the Zoo, during their annual ZooLights exhibit.

Our Strategy

DC Circulator’s Winter Wonder Bus has quickly become an annual holiday tradition. In 2018, we chose the theme of “How Zoo Animals Celebrate the Holidays” and created an exterior bus wrap and interior décor based on zoo animals. We also extended the bus’ service by running a special shuttle on weekends between Metro and the Zoo’s front entrance, making the Zoo more accessible.

We also created and participated in several events surrounding the bus theme including free family photos and other holiday fairs and tree lightings.

Winter Wonder Bus 2018 by the Numbers


ZooLights Shuttle Riders


Rider-generated Social Media Posts


Average Daily Shuttle Riders


Media Hits

Media and Press Coverage

On November 21, 2018, we staged the Winter Wonder Bus at The Smithsonian’s National Zoo and invited members of the media to get a preview of the exterior and interior before it began daily service. We received six total press mentions, including major local networks CBS, NBC and WAMU.

Social Media

After posting teasers for the upcoming Winter Wonder Bus theme, we revealed the bus theme online and kept up social media buzz by encouraging riders to post photos with #winterwonderbus.

Landing Page

Our Winter Wonder Bus landing page included a route schedule and interactive tracker, showing the bus’ real-time location. We added information on special events where the bus would be in attendance and informative holiday rider tips. It also included information about ZooLights and a link to the Zoo’s website.

$20 ZooLights pass giveaway and 8% increase in followers during our Instagram contest.

Family Blogger Partnership

We partnered with a local “mommy-blogger” Jessica McFadden of A Parent in Silver Spring to write a review of her family’s experience taking the Winter Wonder Bus to the National Zoo.

Her blog post generated 38K page views and her social media posts generated thousands of impressions across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Email Blast Series

We kept in touch with interested parties through a series of Emails letting people know where they could find the Winter Wonder Bus and which events we would be attending.


Community Events

We staged the Winter Wonder Bus at three special events where we invited guests on-board to see the décor and take free family photos. They were able to download the photos from our website, leading to increased website traffic. We required an email address to view the photos, helping us to grow our email marketing list.