Apparently someone in Metro has heard the cry for more advertising, because they have announced the introduction of paid advertising in the Downtown Tunnel. The ads have been up all week, but I haven’t had a chance to snap a photo. If you look at the amount of money they will be getting, it’s obvious that it’s worth it: $30,000 for a single station for a single month.

What do you think of the ads? Pics and a correction below the fold.


Big thanks to Eric for the photos.
In an earlier version of this post, I misquoted the amount of revenue generated from the tunnel ads to be $6.6 million. In reality, the tunnel should bring in about $230,000 per annum. I apologize for the error.

26 Replies to “Ads in the Transit Tunnel”

  1. Clarification: The $6.6 million annually is for ALL of Metro’s advertising income, including ads on the insides and outsides of busses. The annual projection for the tunnel ads alone is only $230,000.

  2. Good. I’ve never been on a subway that DOESN’T have advertisements. We need the money. We NEED the money.

  3. So metro only gets $6.6 mn per year from adversting? That’s less than 2% of operations.

    I know this is apples and oranges, but BART in the bay area, gets more than 6% of revenue from advertising, a total of about $28 million a year.

    Metro also has relatively low fare box recovery.

    1. In the past I’ve noticed a lot of empty advertising space inside metro buses… has this changed recently? I wonder if they’re going to be more aggressive about selling those.

  4. I still think we should be looking at more ways to utilize advertising, but this is certainly a step in the right direction. $230,000 a year may not be much, but that’s $230,000 worth of service that won’t have to get eliminated if it comes to that.

    I think Metro should try to attract vendors to tunnel stations and transit centers. Set up espresso stands, small food stands, or other kiosks. It’d add convenience for riders and revenue for Metro.

    1. We have something like that where I live. At Cedar Grove there’s a small hot dog cart (he even has coffee & hot chocolate in the Winter). Not much, but it’s something.

      Also, some of our shelters have ads on them. I’ve seen it somewhere (can’t remember where), but an agency even has ads on the bike rack (the downside is that the ad isn’t seen when you have a bike loaded)

  5. The ads are terrible. The bus tunnel was one of the last remaining ad-free public spaces around. It was nice to leave the crazy ground-level consumer world and dip into an ad-free space while waiting for a bus. Yes, I know the ads will generate a little revenue. But it’s a slippery slope and before long I imagine that every square inch of the station will be covered with ads. They might as well remove the art there and put up Verizon ads.

    Also, is there a Verizon repeater/tower in the tunnel? Most phones don’t get coverage while standing on the Westlake platform. Seems kinda silly to promote a network that you can’t use from the spot you’re viewing the ad in.

    1. But just walk from the station straight into Westlake Mall and there’s a place to buy that Blackberry phone you never knew you needed!

      The next step in annoyance would be to put cell stations in the tunnel allowing people to be on their phones and texting while the bus/train is underground.

  6. But if it’s $30k per month per station, that’s $360k a year per station, or $1.8 million, if they sell all the spaces. That’s definitely not looking to bad. And I like the idea of having little stands in the stations. I seem to remember a post about newsstands in transit station back several months ago…

    1. I’m confused about the math here too. I get how ads at one station may only pull in $230k after Titan takes their cut, and other expenses, but shouldn’t that be $230k per station?

  7. I was down in Westlake after work to check out the ads. There were at least 30 individual signs in the station. They are everywhere. I’ve uploaded more ad photos to the flickr pool.

  8. If it done tastefully then great. That hanging banner is not a good approach. The billboards on the walls are fine.

    They need to put ads on buses as well. Take down the virtually never used overhead bins and sell every inch of the ad space up there on every bus. The people in charge of advertising should be fired for failing to do their job if they continue to ignore this revenue source.

    People are used to public transportation displaying advertising. It is silly to not do so for some desire to keep the buses free of advertising.

      1. Yeah – let’s make as awful as the airport!

        Stinkbug has ir right – the ads are terrible. PLEASE add a quarter my fare rather ten ruin the transit stations.

      2. Transit TV is probably a much more expensive endeavor and potential money pit that would be unnecessary to create and maintain. Best to stick with simple, cheap to produce and maintain “paper” ads.

  9. Yes, I hate the overhanging one and the overall thing makes the tunnel look like the London tube.

    I too am not a fan of advertising in every space available in the public square and detest the wrap arounds on the buses.

    This said, I hope it helps Metro and Sound Transit’s budget problems but let’s keep it tasteful and informative and not let it distract from all the art work at the stations – those are the highlights of each one after all.


  10. I don’t mind these and I HATE bus wrap. I do get curious about Titan’s cut of all this. It also seems like they keep finding newer big ticket advertising options that makes them less focused on selling ads inside the buses.

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