Bus advertising


You may have seen the strikingly simple ads for Metro around LA: Problem/Solution; Villain/Hero; Stress/Relief; Bitter/Sweet (watch them pop up on the Metro homepage). I wrote about Metro’s new design-centric operations for Fast Company and reported on it for DnA almost two years ago (wow!). Since then it’s been crazy to see how smart and good-looking—dare I say fun?—that Metro has become (just look at their new merch offering, above). These ads felt especially on-point:  They seemed to go up right as gas was edging towards $5/gallon—or maybe that’s just when I noticed them—and ridership soared as people, finally, climbed out of their cars.

Well, here we are a few months later, and gas is $1.95 down the street from me.

Metro claims that ridership is still up compared to last year at this time. But as much as my heart leapt when I visibly saw an increase of people waiting at the bus stops in the morning, I was sad to hear so many people say it was only because they’d had a minor stroke the last time they visited the pumps.

Yesterday, chairmen of the Big Three downgraded their transportation to DC from private jets to fuel-efficient vehicles, making for flashy arrivals in snazzy hybrids that, frankly, no one is buying.

And why would they, when gas is $1.95 a gallon and you have to pay extra for a Prius?


There are a lot of good reasons to ditch your car and take public transportation every once in awhile. I suppose doing it to save money on gas is one reason, but it’s not a very good one.

Instead, imagine not having a car (or putting yours into a very deep sleep) and saving money on everything. No oil changes. No insurance. No accidents—whether they’re your fault or not—guaranteed. No repairs for the accidents you never got in. No car payments. No late fee for forgetting to pay your car payment. How about never having to pay $12 plus tip for valet? Or $20 plus $2 for each additional hour to park in a garage? Or never having to figure out if the period of no parking at any time between 6pm to 8am includes the 20 minutes you’re planning to dash into the dry cleaners? (You just saved yourself a $45 ticket.)

You’d walk around all day with a smile on your face, right?

That’s what it’s like to ride the bus.


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  • http://www.dropshots.com/karaandtom Tom

    Be glad that the option of taking public transportation exists there in L.A…. here in Detoilet, we only have a poorly orchestrated bus system and a ‘People Mover’ tram that pretty much exists just to get people from their parking spots to the hockey game. I once looked into taking the bus from my house to my (former) place of employment (23 miles away) and it would have taken over 3.5 hours, which would have included 3 transfers and a 3/4 mile walk. Detroit is one of the least-densely populated cities, so mass transit is not high on the list of priorities here.

    We’re more focused on trying to keep our entire economy from disappearing into the abyss!

  • http://greengelato.blogspot.com mar

    thanks for the post. i immediately went to the metro store upon reading this to buy some stuff for my friend who is leaving LA (and loves the train). where’d you get the buttons and bag? they didn’t have either and i ended up getting her a keychain and notecards.

    ps- yay for gelato.

  • Alissa

    Tom, can you recommend to the Big Three that instead of using a bailout to make more cars, they’re put to work building the most awesomest public transit system ever for their own city???

    And mar, the bag, buttons (and a matching shirt) are coming soon to the Metro store, although I did see the buttons at last night’s GOOD event…so you can get them if you stop by there this month.

  • minus five

    this is a great post. i wish ny had cooler subway crap.

  • http://www.dropshots.com/karaandtom Tom

    I’ve got some other select words to say to the CEOs of the ‘Big Three’ right now!!!

  • Jody

    @minus five:

    is the nyc transit museum still open? i’m bicoastal (l.a. and nyc) and while i’m in new york for the holidays, i’d like to stop by the transit museum gift store and see what kind of schwag they’ve got these days.

    fun fact: my shower curtain is an nyc subway map. but i got it at bed bath & beyond.

  • http://www.mta.info/museum Roxanne Robertson

    November 25, 2009 – January 18, 2010
    New York Transit Museum Gallery Annex and Store at Grand Central Terminal (mid-town Manhattan next to the Station Master’s Office)

    Celebrate the holiday season with the New York Transit Museum’s annual Holiday Train Show. On a two-level 34-foot long layout, Lionel trains travel through a miniature Manhattan to the North Pole. A new Long Island Rail Road train joins Metro-North, New York Central, and Pennsylvania Railroad cars on the elevated track, while New York City Transit’s R-27 subway cars run below. Vintage Lionel trains from the Museum’s collection are also on view. And for your holiday shopping the Museum’s store and booth at the Holiday Gift Fair in Vanderbilt Hall offer a wide array of subway and railroad gifts. http://www.mta.info/museum