VIA Rail Ads Feature City Hall

VIA Rail billboard, Kingston, OntarioThe current economic climate has has made day trips, and stay-cations increasingly popular options for tourists. Most Kingstonians are now, more than ever, trying to save a buck. With local attractions including Fort Henry, museums focusing on everything from penitentiaries to the Great Lakes, as well as the nearby Wolfe Island Wind Turbines, the Limestone City is becoming a year-round magnet for day tripping tourists from as far away as Montréal and Toronto.

Conversely, both the Big Smoke and Montréal are highly attractive destinations for Kingston-based tourists who are looking for nearby getaways, and big city festivals.  This idea is behind of the latest VIA Rail advertising campaign that’s showcased on billboards throughout Kingston.  Each billboard illustrates a major landmark from both the originating and destination cities. While Toronto’s skyline is proudly characterized by the CN Tower, the Olympic Stadium reigns supreme as Montréal’s most recognizable landmark.  Kingston on the other hand, is represented by our historic, and photogenic, City Hall.  As you can see, all of the scenic illustrations come complete with autumn flavoured trees, blue skies and song birds.  What more could you ask for on your perfect day-trip?

I believe I’ve mentioned my love of travelling by train in the past, so it should come as no surprise that I like this series of ads.  Further, I am happy that the marketing team hired by VIA Rail didn’t choose to represent Kingston with Fort Henry, or the K-Rock Centre.  The Limestone City is a place with a rich history, and it makes better sense to play this up by featuring our most recognizable landmark.  And honestly, we can’t really compete in the modern structure department, as Toronto is home to the former world’s tallest building, while the bulky Olympic Stadium nearly bankrupted Montréal.  That’s all to say, having the LVEC represent Kingston would be laughable to Torontorians and Montréalers alike. Heck, I am sure a lot of Kingstonians would shudder.

In closing, travelling by train isn’t for everyone, especially those on a considerably tight budget.  In that regard, it’s worth pointing out that the asterisks on the bottom left hand side the above billboard indicate that the advertised $55 rate is only for a one-way ticket.  So in other words, you still have to cough up the cash to get back home, or get real cozy in your new surroundings.

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...

6 thoughts on “VIA Rail Ads Feature City Hall

  • This is meant to be a deal? Starting at $55, one way? From a government subsidized agency?

    Just to put this in context, I scored a $3 ticket on Megabus to Toronto the other day.

    Or even driving by myself, this would be maybe $25-30 in gas.

    Ridiculous. The only reason they can get away with these prices is that their 'core customers' are government bureaucrats whose travel cost allowances are juked to make taking the train seem economical.

  • They love us! They really love us! Well, our money, anyway. I guess they wised up to the fact that it’s cheaper to drive if you don’t mind losing three hours of lame internet. Hell, with two people it’s cheaper to rent a car for the weekend (and make the environment cry.) But I too love the train. Lame internet be damned!

  • @Renee Totally agree with you on the quality of VIA Rail’s internet. Every time I travelled by VIA in 2009 I was disappointed and overcharged for accessing terribly slow Internet. It’s way faster to get one of those wireless cards/USB devices through your mobile carrier. I expect you’ll see VIA stop charging for wireless in the future, or do away with it entirely.

  • Does anyone else think these ads suspiciously resemble Porter Airline ads? (Without the cool raccoon obviously)

  • @rq Great observation! There are definitely some similarities between the two campaigns, but the absence of woodland critters having picnics and the like makes all the difference. For those who haven’t seen the Porter ads, you can view a sample here.

  • I routinely take VIA from Kingston to Dorval and quite enjoy the experience. I would rather take the train, relax with a good meal than drive the 401 (and no air option to montreal).

    If VIA was at all serious about attracting new traffic though, it could do to spend a little on their stations – in particular the track side. There is no reason why in the 21st century passengers should be expected to clamber with luggage (no checked baggage at most stops between Toronto and Montreal) up the narrow steep stairs into the rail cars. It is actually possible to raise the platforms so they are either level with passenger cars – as is the norm all over europe. This would probably mean constructing separate platforms so as not to disrupt the freight lines – however should be done IMO.

    cheers, junior

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