A peek at Link's first ad wrap from City University

After some scattered speculation here and there and a bit of clamoring for more ad revenue anywhere and everywhere, it looks like Link will debuting its first ad wrap sometime soon.  Thanks to an unnamed tipster, we’ve learned that train #105 has been in the shop getting dressed up with a full advertisement from City University, giving Link it’s first full-body wrap.  We’ve seen plenty of bus wraps before and while not everyone is wooed by them, I would say that doing likewise for Link is a healthy part of breaking in the system.

The trains should be “rolling in a day or two,” said Bruce Gray, a Sound Transit spokesperson. The deal includes posters at Link stations and will generate about $8,000 a month for six months, according to Gray.

As for bus shelter wraps and ads, those we are still waiting on.

69 Replies to “First Link Train Wraps”

  1. Advertising is “A healthy way of breaking in the system.” Oh! You must mean by reminding riders that this is country in the control of for-profit corporations who will control every aspect of your lives including what you look at. Street art is graffiti but advertising is a healthy way…I assume that you folks also find public “art” approved by politicians and sponsored by corporations as also healthy.

    And you are apparently arguing for bus shelter advertisement wraps? This is my first time here– is there an “about” link so I can find out who you corporate toadies are?

    1. No to corporate ads and public art? Curious how you’d envision the aesthetic of any public transportation infrastructure.

    2. See About Us under Best Reference Posts in the right column.

      I’m not in there so I can only speak for myself. Ads in themselves are undesirable. But this has to be balanced against the need for better transit, the budget holes in the transit agencies, and the inability to get taxing authority to fill those holes. Metro is heavily dependent on the sales tax, which has been way down since the economic crash, meaning Metro is facing a potential 20% service cut in the next two years, which would wipe out all the gains since 2000 if not earlier. The state has refused to give Metro authority to use another funding source (such as the motor-vehicle excise tax or property tax) that is less prone to boom-and-bust cycles than the sales tax. Sound Transit is in better shape but also has shortfalls. Community Transit has eliminated Sunday service, Whatcom Transit is making major cuts, and Pierce Transit and Kitsap Transit are also cutting. (Search the STB archive for details.) Capital projects with federal matching funds are generally protected (Link expansion, RapidRide), but the difference comes out in other routes.

      Alongside this, the SLUT was built with substantial private funds in the form of station sponsorships. Many people dislike the ads (along with the route location and configuration), but they did make a line possible that wouldn’t have been otherwise.

      Seattle does not have bus stop ads due to a city ordinance. Some people think this is no longer realistic. San Francisco and Vancouver have ads that subsidize the transit operations.

      I think everybody is against highly obtrusive ads. They should be tasteful, have artistic value, and not be too flashy. I don’t think you’ll see a science fiction “ads everywhere” scenario, or audio ads along the escalators as Russia has.

      1. “Seattle does not have bus stop ads due to a city ordinance. Some people think this is no longer realistic. San Francisco and Vancouver have ads that subsidize the transit operations.”

        And I don’t understand this. All of the Asian bus stops do this. I understand that advertising is subsiding entire bus stops in California. If they are done tastefully, they can be very entertaining and lend themselves to the streetscape. The biggest plus is extra cash which Metro needs. Seattle needs to change this.

      2. In Chicago,the CTA cut a deal with a company (JCDecaux or something like that) to construct and maintain bus shelters. I have to say, they are quite nice. They are well lit both from an overhead lighting strip and many of them have an ad wall that is strongly back lit. The shelters are cleaned frequently and damage is repaired promptly.


      3. And JCDecaux paid a pretty penny for the right to construct and maintain those shelters. Some have complained that they don’t provide the best protection in Chicago’s harsh winters, but there’s no doubting it was a win-win for both city and vendor.

      4. By contracting out advertising shelters in that way, the advertising company is responsible for the upkeep, and the cost of having the shelter in place is cost neutural for the agency. Same thing with benches, that infrastructure becomes cost neutural since the ad agency would maintain the stop. Tastefully done i think it’s a win-win.

      5. Bernie did some digging in the SDOT budget and found that streetcar sponsorships are $350,000 in the 2010 SDOT budget (it was hoped to bring in nearly $600,000 but the economy and stingy Amazon aren’t helping):

        By the way they were updating the former Evergreen Bank Station sign to Umpqua Bank around lunchtime today (the southbound stop at Westlake Ave N and Harrison). I don’t know if that’s just a continuation of sponsorship or new money. It’s a nice design though with a colorful bird, better than the plain ones in my opinion.

  2. I like the white front end, however I wish they had either completely removed the blue LINK and Sound Transit logos on the side … or at least make them white where they intersect the black letters

  3. Allowing public property to be used for advertising is a tacit endorsement of the product. This ad could lead to people bettering their education, then where will we be :=

  4. Nice to see. Advertising is always part of a successful, if not mature, transit system. I’m glad to see that Link is getting to that point, even if this is just a baby step.

    So ST gains a little revenue and #105 will surely get a lot of attention as it goes by – those are both good things for Link/ST.

  5. I think this looks surprisingly good for a train wrap. I with they had done something with the standard link lettering on the side so it wasn’t partially covered. If/when they start putting smaller ads on the outside of Link trains, I hope they add a frame for them or at least a border, because I don’t like how it would look with just a vinyl decal. I think the DSTT ads with frames look pretty classy, but the ones that are just slapped on look bad.

    1. Despite a plethora of sodium-halide lights there, the shot appears to have some pretty bad lighting. Expect it to look much better in the sun, or if the shot was taken with proper white balance.

  6. Nice. Anyone know whether $8k/month falls within the standard going rate for this kind of thing?

      1. Yes, but it’s not just Link riders but anywhere the train is in view. So, Royal Brougham, MLK, I-5, SR-518, Pacific HWY South etc. The train can be seen in all those locations.

    1. Just imagine the First Hill Streetcar (part of the Seattle Streetcar system)against the backdrop of new development along Jackson, Yesler and Broadway and not Portland’s streetcar. :-)

  7. This was the LRV that had the unofficial “wrap” which unexpectedly appeared while stationed near Tukwila for promotional purposes many months ago, Was it not?

    If so – nice to know that removal fees are included this time!

    Maybe City University is planning on adding a new campus on the Link alignment soon.

  8. For $2.1 billion, it SHOULDN’T be wrapped. It’s wonderful to see LRV’s and streetcars not covered with ads. It dilutes the image and brand of both the Link and Sound Transit. The Tacoma Link is IMPOSSIBLE to tell it’s an ST vehicle. I’m disappointed in Sound Transit for this move. At least they kept ST’s name and Link.

    1. If it’s coming down the streetcar/LR tracks, and you are in Seattle or Tacoma, then I’d bet you are looking at an ST vehicle — especially since you can still read the ST logo.

      As long as the add is tasteful and adds a little revenue to ST, then this is fine.

      1. And this is why I don’t mind wraps on the light rail trains, but I oppose wraps on the buses. As you point out, if it’s coming down the rails and pulling into a station it’s clearly a Link car. It can’t be anything else.

        The same does NOT apply to buses. I want to be able to identify the bus coming down the street, so I know to pay attention and be ready at the stop. And in many busy business districts, there may be more than one agency serving bus stops/transit centers. I should be able to tell before the bus arrives whether it’s Metro, Pierce, ST, etc.

      2. Won’t you be most interested in looking at the route number? The bus livery isn’t a sure-fire clue anyway since Metro sometimes put ST coaches on Metro routes and vice-versa.

    2. You’re forgetting that no one cares whether the vehicle is Sound Transit, Metro Transit, or Flying Pig Transit. No one is going to wonder which agency the train is from, nor will they care about branding or image, as LONG as destination signs are clear.

      1. Exactly. People do not care what agency they are traveling on, just as long as they know the vehicle they are on will get them to their destination. In fact, they may be a little happier that the transit agency they are traveling on is attempting to make some extra money to offset increased costs and trying to keep their fares lower.

  9. I’m not a fan but at least they didn’t cover the windows. I do wonder where all this advertising stuff will stop. SEPTA in Philly just agreed to change the name of a transit station in exchange for a corporate sponsorship. Pattison Station on the Broad Street Line is being changed to AT&T Station.

  10. Must be tasteful and attractive while also being highly identifiable for the agency. This wrap seems to achieve that. I would also say, the standard livery should be maintained on at least half of all trains to keep preserve the identifiability of ST and Link, but this is good.

  11. $8,000 for 6 months sounds like a pretty cheap price for a highly visible ad like that – not to mention being the first one will probably give the advertiser even more exposure as the media and blogs report on it.

    Sounds like a great deal for the advertisers.

      1. Still Cheap. What does a full page ad the Times or a high impact ad on SeattlePI.com cost? Or a single ad on a TV or radio station?

      2. That works out to about two hours of operating costs per day or ~10% of the operations budget for that one train. Another way to look at it is that at today’s ridership levels it’s bringing in almost as much as fares from a single train.

      3. Is it 10% of the budget for the train, or just for the car? If it is really 10% for the train, then wrapping both cars could bring in nearly twice as much as farebox recovery.

        Something tells me that isn’t really the case.

        Regardless, given the two evils of sales tax or advertising revenue, I’d rather have the funding come from advertising revenue first.

      4. I still get tripped up by the two articulated segments being one car and missed that the picture was only half of a two car train. I wonder if there is some sort of exclusivity agreement that would prevent potentially conflicting ads from ending up as wraps on the same train. If not then the potential revenue could be double.

        I’m not really sure what the cost per hour to operate a two car Link train is but $8k a month is $266 a day. Slut works out to about $160/hr for operations and maintenance. A bus is on the order of about $120/hr (which I think is also operations and maintenance). True it’s a bit of a gimmick to say two hours of operating costs and leave out maintenance but either way it should be closer to two hours than one.

        If ridership is 16,000 a day and you count $2 a head for fares that’s $32k per day from fares. I’m guessing what, eight trains on average to serve the route? That’s $4,000 collected per train per day which is considerably more than the advertising so I’m obviously way off there. But if a train is operating 20 hours a day that $4k works out to $200/hr which should easily cover operating costs. Yet we know Link is no where near 100% fare recovery (more like 10%). Someone help me out here.

      5. I think it would be funny to have say a Pepsi and a Coke wrap in the same train.

  12. 1) Don’t cover the windows in any way
    2) Front and rear of vehicle (the other “front” in this case) should keep the standard livery so that they are recognized when approaching.
    3) Transit vehicles may only be wrapped after every transit agency staff vehicle, including those given as part of compensation, are wrapped with advertisement.

  13. I hope Metro sells wraps on the RapidRides. It will definitely improve the color scheme.

      1. Here’s a conspiracy theory for you: Metro chose colors so appallingly ugly in order to get a public outcry in favor of selling RapidRideWraps.

  14. Seriously, people pay attention to ads?
    I like the colors and the style of this one though.

  15. Wonder if Amtrak Cascades could wrap one like a Talgo XXI, with the lettering all blurred up.

    1. A Cascades wrap for Link would be very cool, even if it didn’t make the Link cars look like the Talgos.

      My favorite bus wraps over the years have been some of the ones the zoo and the aquarium have done as well as the LifeSavers buses.

  16. Looking over the wrap this evening in the rail yard, you will be suprised to know that both sides of 105 are different! One side has large letters and one side has smaller letters. It looks prepared to be in service on Thursday.

    1. Hey Martin, I just saw the wrapped car going south at Columbia City station at 7:10am. I’d take a picture but don’t want to handle my hand held cell phone while driving.

  17. I’ve already seen a bus ad at the Stevens Way / Pend Oreille stop on UW campus, although I can’t tell if it’s legit or not. There’s one congratulating the KCM operator of the year (who drives through UW often), and another one that’s supposedly for the Lottery (it says: “Loans for Life! 14% Tuition increase”). It has the WA Lottery logo and looks professionally-made, but I haven’t actually stopped to examine it closely.

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