Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Communication and Information

Major Professor

John Eric Haley

Committee Members

Courtney Childers, Matthew Pittman


Sustainable behaviours are key to communities reaching their sustainability goals, with the use of public transportation being the focus of this study. To encourage transit use, public transportation agencies must use strategic communications to promote changes in behaviour. This is a case study of social media content from TriMet, the public transportation agency in Portland, Oregon. Content from 2019 posted to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram was collected with a total of 741 posts (N=741). This content was coded to four major categories including broad purpose, content type, transportation type, and themes. Quantitative analysis was performed to note cooccurrences between coded items and correlations between coded items and engagement numbers. Following this, qualitative analysis was conducted to look closely at outliers, major themes, and notable trends. Points of interest are discussed including the uses of different platforms, the importance of visual branding, community engagement, information sharing, transit’s place in transportation networks, and the role of history in brand building. Recommendations are made for transit agencies based on the literature and analysis. This paper concludes with a research summary, limitations, future research directions, and an encouragement for communications scholars to tackle societal challenges through interdisciplinary research.

Files over 3MB may be slow to open. For best results, right-click and select "save as..."