Tag Archives: transit advertising

NOT my kind of transit advertising (or, Buh-bye, WaMu)

Really, Chase?

A Chase ad on a 53

This ad is wrong on so many levels, I don’t know where to start. (Fellow Seattleites: You feel me?) If it weren’t for Brown Bear’s awful, self-congratulatory campaign*, this would win the award for worst bus ad ever.

*Of course, I can’t seem to find a picture of it now (will link to one soon), but you know the one: “Favorite car wash of local salmon.”

Chicklet’s (second) favorite bus ad

On a recent 8 excursion, Chicklet awoke from her nap (she is fond of napping in the Ergo) directly underneath Metro’s “chill on the cell usage” ad.

Too much. Too loud. Please be courteous when using your cell phone on the bus.

After checking it out for a few seconds, she giggled, then turned to me and said one of her latest words: “teeth.”

Funny, that’s what I think when I see it, too.

Speaking of Frida…

Talk about a good reason for a bus wrap:

In honor of the 100th anniversary of Frida’s birth Mexico City converted some of their city buses into “Fridabúses” — moving shrines honoring the painter.

(Source: fridakahlo.it)

Frida on the bus

Frida just so happens to be one of my non-bus-related obsessions. (Be thankful you’ve been shielded from it for so long. My friends and family members haven’t been as fortunate.)

What I wouldn’t give to ride on one of those…

A bus chick’s version of a good day

This morning, I stopped by the County Courthouse to see some demos of the partially wrapped buses. (The Council tabled the vote on whether to allow the partial wraps, so these demos were made available to help the members come to a decision. Members of the Transit Advisory Committee and the Accessible Services Advisory Committee were also invited to take a look.)

The partial wraps leave 15″ clear on every bus window. This looks different on different buses, depending on the size of the windows and the height of the seats. (I apologize in advance for the quality of these pictures; I have yet to replace my broken camera.)

Here’s what a partially wrapped trolley looks like:

Demo of a partially wrapped trolley

Note: There aren’t any real ads designed for this template yet, so the folks at Metro just removed some of the vinyl from an existing ad.

Here’s a New Flyer 40-footer:

Demo of a partially wrapped 40 footer

In this case, instead of altering an existing wrap, they covered the parts of the windows that would be obscured by the ad.

Here’s the view from inside the trolley:

View from inside a partially wrapped trolley

And from the other side:

View from inside a partially wrapped trolley

Anyone recognize the man in the red circle? Yes indeed, Busfather was there as the official driver of the 40-footer. He got to hang out for a couple of hours while the bigwigs (and regular folks like me) checked things out. Not a bad gig for a sunny Monday.

Anirudh, aka Bus Hero, who also happens to be one of my fellow TAC members, was also there.

Anirudh on the trolley:

Anirudh on the partially wrapped trolley

So was my councilmember, Larry Gossett:

Larry Gossett on the partially wrapped trolley

Y’all already know how I feel about bus revenue: I’m inclined to endure a little obscured vision every once in a while if it means more service. The good news is, the partially wrapped buses don’t obscure your vision. I could see out of all the windows, even when I hunched down to make myself shorter. (Of course, I’m not sure how a child riding alone or a person in a wheelchair would do. I’ll leave the latter to the folks at the Accessible Services Advisory Committee.)

Bottom line: We (OK, I) likey. Councilmembers, please vote “yes.”

After the bus viewing, a lovely lunch at the Gates Foundation with my friend Char (which involved a slowish ride on the 70), and a quick trip to the Real Change office, I happened upon Smooth Jazz while crossing the street on my way to catch the 27. (He was driving a bus back to the base, apparently, after finishing his shift.) I waved before I had a chance to remember that he doesn’t actually know me, and he waved back. Turns out, he does know me (and how could he not–I’ve been on his bus about 30,000 times in the past year). He said he hadn’t seen me in a while and had been wondering what I’d been up to. This, of course, made me feel very important and fabulous.

Called up the homies and Im askin yall
Which court, are yall playin basketball?
Get me on the court and Im trouble
Last week messed around and got a triple double
Freaking brothers everyway like m.j.
I cant believe, today was a good day

OK, what if they were partially wrapped?

I’ve been meaning to tell you about this for over a week, but I was away on vacation, enjoying a laptop-free existence.

It seems that the folks at Metro have found a creative solution to the wrapped bus visibility issue. From a recent County Kingpin news release:

Last fall, the Metropolitan King County Council directed Metro to phase out its full-wrap bus advertising program due to concerns expressed by some passengers that their views were obscured and the bus interiors were dark. If the advertising program that was restricted to 25 buses – less than two percent of Metro’s fleet – is eliminated, the agency estimates it will lose $743,000 of revenue in 2008.

“We always strive to be innovative and entrepreneurial to find revenues that help keep bus fares low while increasing our service,” said King County Executive Ron Sims. “That is why I asked Metro to develop a modified wrapped-bus advertising program that still brings in critically needed revenue while addressing the concerns of our customers.”


Under the proposal, only a portion of the bus side windows would be covered. This will provide potential advertisers with enough coverage to justify the premium rates for such advertising, while preserving unobstructed, clear window space along the entire length of the bus for improved passenger visibility and comfort.

I can’t front: I love this idea! At a recent Transit Advisory Committee meeting, I talked with two people who had actually sat on a test model; they both were able to see fine. And I don’t know about you, but I want more service, stops and shelters, so I’m all about pain-free sources of revenue.

Of course, partial bus wraps won’t generate as much revenue as full bus wraps, and not just because less of the bus will be covered. There is currently only one template for wrapped buses, and it’s used by all other agencies that participate in the program. Hopefully, Metro’s model will eventually become the standard (customers in other cities would probably like to see, too), but in the meantime, advertisers who want wraps on King County buses will have to pay for custom designs.

The County Council hasn’t voted on the new proposal yet. I bet they’d like to know what you think. Would you tolerate bus wraps if you could see out the window?

Transit in the news

1) An ad against buses–on a bus.

The political ad shows a Rapid transit bus that has morphed into a pig. It’s eating money and spewing pollution.

“This pig stinks!” it reads in bold letters.

What is most surprising is the venue — it soon will appear on the back of a Rapid bus.

A group paid $290 to place the 21-by-72-inch ad on the bus for a month to show its opposition to a transit system millage campaign.

(Source: Grand Rapid Press, via Mass Transit magazine)

2) Chicago businesses request higher taxes to increase investment in transit.

The state must give the Regional Transportation Authority the power to raise additional revenue, including increasing the sales tax and levying a gasoline tax of up to 5 percent per gallon, the business-backed civic group Chicago Metropolis 2020 said.

“This is a group of business people standing up and saying, ‘We’re willing to push for additional taxes, including a gas tax.’ This is very significant,” said George Ranney Jr., Chicago Metropolis’ president and CEO.


“Action is needed this legislative session to prevent further damage to the region’s economy and global competitiveness,” the group’s executive council said in the letter and position paper, which were obtained by the Tribune.

(Source:Chicago Tribune, via Mass Transit)

The new transit advertising debate (or, Bus wraps: “so last year.”)

Because I’d like to see more and better public transportation in this region, I’d also like to see more–and better–sources of public transportation funding. In my ideal world, we’d fund transit with gas taxes, parking taxes, tolls, and congestion charges–instead of just sales tax. For now, I’ll settle for advertising as a source of revenue.

Which brings me to my point…

In December, the King County Transit Advisory Committee, “an appointed County board drawn from King County Metro Transit riders,” sent a letter to Seattle City Councilmember Jan Drago encouraging the city to allow “tasteful” advertising in bus shelters. (Apparently, this is currently not allowed.) An excerpt from the letter:

The King County Transit Advisory Committee respectfully requests that you and your Seattle City Council colleagues study the potential for Seattle to join with Metro Transit in placing revenue-generating, tasteful advertising panels on Seattle-area Metro Transit bus shelters.

Our committee has researched the use of bus shelter advertising in municipal locations within the United States and internationally. We have learned that municipalities can tightly control advertising content and images, while striking revenue deals that greatly enhance the ability to provide shelters and another important customer amenity, signage. Given the urgent need to upgrade customer service and amenities during the coming decade, the King County Transit Advisory Committee strongly favors the use of such advertising-enhanced revenue to increase the number, cleanliness and quality of bus shelters, adjacent lighting and informational signage within the City of Seattle.

(Full disclosure. I was recently appointed to the TAC. I attended my first meeting as a member on February 13th.)

I’d love to see more shelters and better signage, but I’m afraid it will be difficult to come to consensus about how we define “tasteful.” I was all for bus wraps (which, in case you missed it, are going away) until I saw McDonald’s-wrapped buses and Fox-News– and Mercedes-Benz- wrapped People Movers in Detroit. I also hate the idea of corporations having that kind of access to our public spaces. (Anyone seen the monument to Starbucks at Powell Barnett?)

That said, I’ve seen bus shelter ads in other cities, and they actually looked nice. Here are a few examples I found in my own photo archives:

Paris shelter ad
Paris shelter ad
Vacnouver shelter ad
Vancouver shelter ad

The TAC’s letter also has a few.

Bottom line: We need more transit funding, and we definitely need more shelters and better signs. I support the shelter ads, but I’ll continue to raise my voice (and vote) for more public funding of public transit.

Your turn.