Ads on Buses

Here is staff’s reply to the problem of windows covered by ads on buses.

The Region receives approximately $400,000 a year for bus advertising revenue.  This includes interior, exterior and all bus vinyl applications.
“The contract stipulates a  maximum of 5 full vinyl application wraps permitted on the entire GRT fleet at any time. 
I have contacted the contractor to discuss and review other vinyl product options for the windows. “
Regional council is looking at a possible 4 to 5 percent increase this year and that doesn’t include making up the cuts to Discretionary Benefits to the Poor. $400,000 is a lot of eyeglasses, tooth pulling or food hampers. 

4 responses to “Ads on Buses

  1. What precisely does “Regional council is looking at a possible 4 to 5 percent increase this year” mean? Increase in what? Regional taxes? If so, then staff really need to learn how to separate revenues in one section of the budget from expenses in another. A revenue-neutral change in GRT doesn’t affect food hampers.

    • How is cutting ad revenue neutral? Increases and decreases in various departments do effect the overall percentage of tax increase which may then lead to councillors cutting or not adding to another department to keep the tax percent down. It all effects the bottom line.

      • You’ve said total advertising is worth $400k, but how much are the wraps themselves worth? $100k? $200k? I know we don’t have a good way of quantifying the number of people who avoid the bus because they can’t see out the windows, but let’s say removing the bus wraps boosts ridership by 0.5%. That would be revenue-neutral.

  2. Thanks for the response.

    The trouble with this argument is that the exterior portion of bus ads (go ahead, plaster every interior surface with advertising!) is something called “brand dilution”.

    Simply put, public transit has two major brand components: the “my community” portion (which is the strong part, containing good feelings about the community in which people live) and the “city bus” portion (which is the weak part, containing prejudiced thoughts about public transit being dirty, for the poor, etc.)

    When you cover up what makes your community’s bus look unique, you leave the viewer only with a “city bus” (the weak part of the brand) and they are less likely to pay fares to ride your system. So let’s assume that half of the ad contract, $200 000, is attributable to exterior ads: Is that too much to pay to market the service as something unique?

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