The London Underground is famous for its iconic posters (as well is its maps, logo, and font). While Twin City Rapid Transit had some posters as well, they did not reach the same level of artistry. (If anyone has a link to an online trove of such local posters, link in the comments).
As an in-class exercise for my Transportation Policy, Planning, and Deployment class, I asked students to create posters for MetroTransit. These are just sketches on a white board, but I hope you can see the possibilities.
The posters can be at stations, on vehicle (exterior/interior) bus shelters, kiosks, anywhere you can post posters. London works with third party institutions (teams, museums, zoos, malls, etc.) to coordinate marketing of transport with the destination.
Following the model of London Transport, posters should sell not only existing customers on new uses for transit they might not normally think of, but also new users. They should try to improve utilization in off-peak times, off-peak days, and so on, when the system is operating well-below capacity and additional demand on existing operations is most valuable.
MetroTransit: when being on time just doesn’t matter to you.
MetroTransit: let’s face it, you probably don’t have a choice unless this is an express bus
MetroTransit: well it’s better than what they have a lot of places in America!
/daily bus commuter
Bonus, for #2 it should include a picture of a person standing on a corner with no shelter and snow blowing sideways with shiver marks around the person. Maybe something to indicate the bus is 30 minutes late too.
For all the problems that Metro Transit has, I have to say in the grand scheme of things they’re pretty good at running buses compared other places I’ve visited or read about (Pittsburgh, Denver, New Orleans, Chicago). Yes, there are lots of ways that bus service can be improved, but most of those require funding. Metro Transit does a phenomenal job running a coherent bus system with their limited resources.
In the grand scheme of things, marketing is cheap and/or already budgeted for, so anything that can improve ridership will improve revenue making some small improvements possible, and expanding the base of people that ride transit, even if only occasionally, expands the base of support for increased transit funding.
And I say that as someone who rode the 2 for years, waiting at a stop with a wide open shelter in the winter, and currently waits for the train at the windswept Lake St Station.
I just have a hard time containing my snark. They do an ok job with the inadequate resources they’re given, but I do take issue with how they overspend on chasing suburban commuters and give second-rate service to the busier (and more efficient) inner city routes. Like I said in #3, it’s definitely better than a lot of places in America (not that it’s saying much). I really wish the funding model (or maybe just the leadership?) didn’t make them so desperate to pander to suburban commuters when they can’t adequately serve the cheaper-to-serve inner-city riders, many of whom don’t have alternate options.
I’ve also spent some time riding the 2 to and transferring at the Franklin Ave station. Now THAT is a windswept wasteland of a station with zero protection from the cold winter wind. Lake street at least has those panels to kind of temper the wind, but at Franklin (especially SB) it’s just right in your face. I also have fond memories of waiting for the 23 at 38th street station for over half an hour (at rush hour!) crammed into the tiny bus shelter with a useless heat lamp with ten other people when it was -15 (*before* windchill).
No, it’s the funding model all right.
Awesome idea, David. Lots of great artists in MInnesota would have a lot of fun doing the posters.
Oh, I’m really glad someone wrote about this. I’d wanted to write about Metro Transit’s branding for a long time and never did.
I thought that Nice Ride did a fantastic job in marketing itself this year. Metro Transit? Not so much. The Green Line ads are neither inspirational nor specific nor striking in their design. They don’t accomplish very much at all.
Marketing can’t solve our transit problems alone, but I think that if Metro Transit did a better job of selling trains and buses not just as transport of last resort, but transport that is easy, convenient, pleasant, and fun, that over time we might have a strong pro-transit constituency.