New law allows trains, buses to be blanketed in ads

Bus and train wraps are bringing in bigger ad revenue than the smaller, traditional side ads.

SEPTA’s new Silverliner V rail cars may be equipped with more comfortable seating and larger windows, but what’s most attractive to SEPTA is actually on the outside: lucrative advertising.

Last month, the transit agency began wrapping some of its new cars with ads from Dietz and Watson, the Philadelphia-based purveyor of meats. Legislation passed last year in Harrisburg gives transit agencies authority to sell the ads, which SEPTA already has on the exterior of its buses.

So far the ads have run on a mix of Silverliner V cars and older-model cars. Some passengers say the arrangement is not ideal, but understandable given the economic realities in the state.

“I would prefer they not be this all-over type of wrap which affects the visibility,” said leading rider advocate Matthew Mitchell of the Delaware Valley Association of Rail Passengers. “But it’s a very high-impact form of advertising. I’m sure that’s exactly what advertisers are looking for.”

SEPTA said it does not have revenue projections for the ads, but that the money will go toward the cost of repairs and maintenance.

“For us, it just opens a window of opportunity for revenue,” said SEPTA spokeswoman Kristin Geiger. “This funding, while it’s not an end-all to be-all, it certainly helps to bridge the gap.”

The cost of the Dietz and Watson campaign, which was placed on a total of 16 rail cars, digital station signage and buses, was $150,000, Geiger said.

SEPTA said the ads will be tasteful and reviewed by Titan, which handles advertising for SEPTA and PATCO. The firm has sold ads for bus shelters and brokered a five-year, $5-million deal with AT&T for the naming rights of the former Pattison Station on the Broad Street Line.


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