Bus Advertising Gone Bad

CAA Bus Advertisement
Here’s a paradox that will make your head explode, or perhaps it will simply make your blood boil. A recent CAA ad appearing on the tail end of Kingston Transit buses boasts “insurance rates that won’t have you riding the bus.” Is public transpo in Kingston so bad that City officials are seriously encouraging commuters to drive their own vehicles? Doesn’t it behoove the marketing manager down at City Hall to sell advertising that increases ridership? What the hell is going on? Are we in bizarro-world, where up is down, and pink tastes like blue?

In the age of sky-high fuel prices and hyper-environmentalism, Kingston transit has seen a modest increase in ridership over the past few years. Now those factors may only be partly to blame, as we have to take into consideration various improvements to the public transportation scheme have also been made. Most noticeably, the addition of more buses meaning more frequent service, as well as the bike racks on the front of the buses, and even the new automated pass system. Sure the winter service is a bit to be desired, but on the whole Kingston Transit is better than ever before.

So going back to the advertisement, I just don’t get it. Although I own a car, I have the convenience of being able to walk to work, for groceries, shopping etc… so the bus isn’t really something I consider on a regular basis. That said, for those on the fence about buying a bus pass or leasing a car, I think it’s pretty safe to say these ads are going to sway people away from mass transit, and into self serving autos. Is there no standard for advertising on the side of these buses? Will they let anyone, advertise anything? I think that it’s ridiculous that the city can get away with selling ad space on public transportation that essentially encourages more people to drive, and therefore clog our streets. What do you think?

Harvey Kirkpatrick

Harvey Kirkpatrick is Kingstonist's Co-Founder. His features curiously explore urban planning, what if scenarios, the local food scene and notable Kingstonians. Loves playing tourist and listening to rap music. Learn more about Harvey...

4 thoughts on “Bus Advertising Gone Bad

  • That is really dumb. If I was with CAA I would never think it would even work. Public transportation would advertise us? That makes no sense.

    At this point I’ll see MADD public service announcements sponsored by Molson.

  • Stupid as the ad may be, I really don’t think that it will dissuade people from taking the bus, nor do I think it will push people over the edge into buying a car. I do, however, agree that it is in bad taste to rent space to an ad that basically implies that your service is second-rate and undesirable.

    While we’re on the subject of Kingston Transit, why do they not have schedules posted at the bus and train terminals? Not even by the bus stops. One day I attempted to take the bus back and had no idea when it was even coming. I, like almost everyone else, opted for a cab. The same thing can be said for the train. Almost every time I took the train in undergrad I ended up waiting with several dozen others for almost an hour for a cab to get back downtown. A shuttle service (even if it were only on the busiest days for the bus and train) would be hugely helpful.

  • @katyt13
    At one point they had a schedule posted in the shelter at Coach Canada. As far as I can remember in the 4 years I’ve lived in Kingston, there has been a schedule posted inside Coach Canada in the waiting area. I think the idea is that people will see it when they get off a CC bus and need to catch transit.

    I can’t say anything for the VIA station though.

    Most bus shelters contain maps, but due to vandalism many of these go missing with time.

  • I think they try to keep maps at stops but quite often people steal them, I think I only ever really see them at the major stops (Kingston Centre etc.)

    As for the back of bus advertising for CAA, while it does seem like a bit of a contradiction it kind of makes sense. Its mobile advertising, CAA is probably thinking of the fact that the majority of vehivles following buses are cars, and the people driving them need to be insured. It makes good marketing sense to me; who wouldnt see a travelling billboard as a good thing? And as for Kingston transit, they are probably making some cash by having it there as well.

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