ALERT! : More info
Translink Buzzer Blog

Ads coming to FareCards in January 2011

A sample FareCard with the new ads.

In case you haven’t heard, this was announced yesterday: there will be small ads on the monthly FareCards starting in January 2011.

Check out the press release for more information—below I have a short excerpt.

TransLink is partnering with Let’s Bus It, a Victoria-based firm that specializes in advertisements on public transportation, to include ads on the front of the FareCards.

“Transit advertising is an area that makes money for TransLink,” says John Beaudoin, TransLink’s Director of Customer Engagement and Marketing, “and helps reduce the need to increase revenue in other areas, like fares.” Advertising on buses and SkyTrain already brings in about $9 million per year for TransLink, which could finance close to $90 million in new transit capital or pay for about 82,000 hours of bus service.

The ad takes up just under one half of face of the FareCard, with information such as the number of zones, purchase price and the month for which the card is valid still plainly displayed. The terms and conditions and the space for writing the owner’s name – in accordance with the requirements of the federal Transit Pass Tax Credit – are unchanged on the reverse.

In exchange for placing ads on FareCards, Let’s Bus It is guaranteeing TransLink a minimum of $84,000 per year. The concept has proven popular with advertisers in other regions where Let’s Bus It operates – including Victoria, Nanaimo, Brandon Manitoba and New Orleans, Louisiana – and the ad space is already sold out for the first six months in Metro Vancouver.

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments, as always!


  • By Holly, December 17, 2010 @ 2:05 pm

    I strongly dislike this idea. If I’ve already had to pay close to $100 for my monthly farecard, I don’t want to have to look at an ad every time I pull it out to use it. I’d like to see less advertising in my world, not more.

  • By TK, December 17, 2010 @ 2:08 pm

    If I don’t like the ad, is it ok to replace the ad with my own artwork?

  • By anon, December 17, 2010 @ 2:15 pm

    If the ad is covered or cut out does that invalidate the card? I do like this alternative to raising taxes such a property taxes or (even worse) gas taxes. But I would not agree with the inability to cover the ad up.

  • By Jacob, December 17, 2010 @ 2:20 pm

    I like the idea of advertizing, it could be used to fund the evergreen line. There are many other places where adds can go, like bus schedules, on bus stops…
    I would like to see funding of the evergreen line come from many sources, like a little advertizing, a little property tax, a little from bridge tolling, But there’s one thing that can’t change:Bus fares.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, December 17, 2010 @ 2:26 pm

    TK, anon: The rules on the back of the FareCard say it is void if laminated or altered. So if you physically do something to the card, like stick something on it or cut it up, yes, it would be void.

    However, I’m told that if you had one of the plastic FareCard sleeves, and you slid a piece of paper in it so that it sat in front of the ad space on the FareCard, that would not be void as the FareCard itself would remain physically whole if you pulled it out of the sleeve. Which is your prerogative to do!

  • By peter b, December 17, 2010 @ 2:36 pm

    This uglification of the fare card is terrible!!! I can’t believe translink is doing this to get an extra $7000 a month in revenue. I’m with TK — riders should revolt and put their own art on the card!!!! Any crafters out there! We need a special fare card sleeve with an art sleeve inside, so that you can put art over the advertising.

    The advert might pay for fare card printing costs — but I think your art people could have done a *much* better job making room for advertising: you could theme the fare card, so you barely notice the advertising, even though it’s staring you right in the face — that might even make fare cards collectible.

    And why is translink using BC Transit operations in Victoria and Nanaimo as a trend setter — have you ever ridden transit there!?!?! On the island, transit operations are still considered “community service” — like they’re doing riders a favor by giving us a lift — and if you need a ride at night — too bad — go buy a car!!!! The ugly art just reinforces the idea that idea that transit users don’t matter…

  • By klparrot, December 17, 2010 @ 2:54 pm


    $84,000 a year is $7,000 a month. According to a 2007 press release, there were 131,000 FareCards sold for March 2007. IIRC, transit ridership is up, so I’m guessing that number is now at least 140,000.


    I think almost everybody would rather pay 5¢ more for their FareCard rather than be forced to carry an ad around with them all month long. IMO this is a bad idea. Don’t annoy your customers.

  • By klparrot, December 17, 2010 @ 3:11 pm

    If TransLink is insistent about this advertising route, why not at least put it on FareSavers instead? It’d be possible to have a greater variety of ads (when I see the same thing over and over, I get annoyed with it), and it would be less offensive to customers.

    I say this as someone who uses FareSavers. I would be less offended (though still far from thrilled) to use FareSavers with ads than I would knowing TransLink so disrespects their monthly FareCard users as to force them to carry around an ad for a month.

  • By Jot Kali, December 17, 2010 @ 3:22 pm

    What a horrible idea. All for an average of 5 cents per card ?? (good analysis kiparrot)

    I’d like to know exactly what problem Translink is having that $84,000 is going to solve. For this minor amount you are willing devalue the relationship you have with every single person that makes the choice of supporting Translink? A wallet contents makes a statement. Instead of ordinary credit cards people have gold cards, some carry travel cards, some have gym memberships, etc. Instead of a farecard saying a person uses and supports transit, it will now say Translink believes its customers are as valuable as those throw away flyer stacks clogging up mailboxes.

    This is clear misfire. Please reconsider. I also support the advertising on farecards put forth by kiparrot.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, December 17, 2010 @ 3:25 pm

    peter b, klparrot, et al: This is really a tough one. It is a trade-off to be sure between value for the customer and revenue generation. As far as I know, the contract was arrived at after several proposals by the supplier, and only agreed to after minimum revenue of $84,000 a year could be guaranteed. It was not an easy decision—the core question was, shouldn’t we be exploring independent revenue generation sources, which help move us away from just taxes as our sole funding providers? Farecards also offered a more-or-less “simple” way to try exploring that, as you don’t need to change a ton of other collateral material to add the ads in, and given that smartcards are arriving in 2013, this project is rather short term in the end.

    So, anyway, this is obviously not a perfect situation, but it is something new to try. And with all that said, I’ll of course send your comments along to the FareDealer and marketing teams for their edification. Thanks!

  • By Jot Kali, December 17, 2010 @ 3:40 pm

    As a minor point guess I’ll stop using farecards as bookmarks.

    Its proven by many studies that car use is far more tax using per person than using people who use transit, despite how the media spins it. However, the barrage of advertising crud the transit user is forced to see is way out of proportion. I get in a car, and I decide if I turn on the radio or not. I take the transit, and I see ads outside the bus, inside the bus, TVs showing ads inside the seabus waiting area, outside the waiting area, the entire length of the walk to a Canada line station, inside the Canada line stations. Now we get it force fed inside our wallets as well.

    I hope this ‘smart card’ translink is developing isn’t overly smart …. The seabus is arriving in 4 minutes, this message brought to you by coke …… The seabus is arriving in 3 minutes, this message brought to you by coke …..

  • By D, December 17, 2010 @ 4:03 pm

    Dear TransLink,

    If you’re going to extend the reach of advertising further (not something I’m personally against), let’s sit down and talk about how to do so in a positive way that also helps you to promote TransLink’s image, and that of transit use in general.

    The sample ad in the graphic featured in this post is a perfect example; let me explain:

    Advertising is a huge conscious and subconscious force in our lives and environments; ads are meant to target consumers, but the choice of ads in any given setting sends people a message about that setting. In the Rogers Arena, for instance, much of the advertising is for prestigious national brands, or for big-name consumer products and services (Rogers, or course, but also think of the names on the boards). When I get on a TransLink bus, the ads send the following message: this is a place/service for people who haven’t finished high school, can’t speak/read English, have mental health problems, need debt counselling, or appreciate the cheapest possible knock-off designer glasses. Yikes! Get me out of here!

    By all means, use advertising to raise revenue; this is no big sin, but keep in mind the message that the ads on transit send: are they telling users that this is a vehicle in which ‘normal’ citizens/consumers are common, or is this a social service for potentially pregnant teenagers, the chronically indebted, unschooled, and ‘new’ Canadians only?

    I would be happy to draw on my professional experience in order to help you be more selective abou the advertising that you accept, or to work out a strategy to this effect to be implemented with the ad firm you’re currently working with. But do realize: every time someone gets on a TransLink bus (or the SkyTrain), these ads are telling them something about the service and its ‘target’ users, and I hope that it’s a message that TransLink has thought about. Even worse, no ads suggest that not even the bottom-of-the-barrel firms/service providers think that transit riders are a demographic worth pursuing – that’s really bad! And $85,000? That’s it? Hmmm…



  • By Patrick M., December 17, 2010 @ 4:07 pm

    Guys, I think this is getting a bit much.

    Do I like rampant advertisements? Not so much.

    Do I stare longingly at the beauty of my monthly farecard on a regular basis? Not really.

    U-Pass’s have had advertising on them forever, admittedly, much less obvious advertising, but it’s there (check it out sometime).

    At a minimum of $84,000 a year, this will be paying for ten percent of the cost of an additional B-line style rapid transit route per year. That’s not bad for something I’m rarely going to see or care about. And keep in mind that is minimum guaranteed income, hopefully it goes higher.

    Someone said we shouldn’t be looking to Nanaimo or Victoria for ideas because their transit system isn’t particularly good. It is the transit systems that are tightest on money that often find ways to innovate to stretch the budget most. Sometimes, those are penny pinching and don’t serve the consumer, and sometimes they are actually bright ideas. I don’t really care where good ideas come from generally, just that they get incorporated.

    Translink needs a basket of means to afford to give us all a better system.

    If you really don’t like this, write your MLA and tell them you want the gas tax raised, or push for MetroVan to institute a vehicle levy, or try to convince the various city councils to vote to increase property taxes. Translink has a very limited list of wells to go to for money, and frankly, there isn’t a single part of the lower mainland that couldn’t use service improvements.

    We have to pay for our nice transit system somehow. Me? I don’t spend my daily commute looking at my farecard, I read or look out the window.

  • By ???, December 17, 2010 @ 4:17 pm

    I would support more space for the ads if it reduced the monthly pass further and made Canada Line evening frequency higher.

    Bring it on! Is there a huge waitlist for advertisers? Perhaps we should raise the rates.

  • By Jot Kali, December 17, 2010 @ 4:47 pm

    Sorry for overposting on one topic, perhaps a comprise can be made. Instead of just putting ads on the farecard for a very dubious amount, why not make the relationship reciprocal ? For example my North Shore Community card gives me discounts at certain businesses by showing my card. I was in a bookstore in Amsterdam that gave discounts to bus pass holders. Why not strike up relationships with business near the major transit hubs, then beside each transit hub allow one advertiser to sponsor each, offering discounts to someone showing their fare card. Translink already spends money promoting businesses around transit hubs, solidify the arrangement.

  • By ericmk, December 17, 2010 @ 7:43 pm

    Personally, I support the FareCard ads. I think it’s important that TransLink diversifies it revenue sources, and expanded advertising is a start. To me, the ads don’t look to be intrusive- all I do with my FareCard anyway is show it to transit employees when required, then put it back in my wallet until needed again or it’s time to buy a new one. The ads are not meant to be offensive and are not a sign of TransLink treating us like trash- it’s just a simple way to get some more money without having fare hikes or tax increases, which would cause much more uproar!

  • By CC, December 17, 2010 @ 8:26 pm

    Why don’t they start making people who get fines for fate evasion pay up? I’m sure if everyone who skipped on fare and got a ticket had to pay the fine we’d have MUCH more then $84,000/year.

    Just another way to piss off paying customers.

  • By Jason, December 17, 2010 @ 8:31 pm

    This is great news, I was wondering how I could make my life more like a Philip K Dick novel. Being forced to carry around ads in our wallets will really appeal to the “sci-fi dystopia” demographic.

    Seriously though, putting ads on bus passes is pretty obnoxious. We’re commuters, not NASCAR drivers. I’ll be among those “defacing” my bus pass with some art.

    Since only the fareholders (and bus drivers) will see these ads, it seems to me that the revenue from these ads should be grouped with fares themselves as “revenue derived from users.” Advertisers are paying for a service, and that service is our attention. Perhaps fares should be decreased a corresponding amount… although as an earlier commenter mentioned, this amounts to 5c per card.

  • By Brandon, December 17, 2010 @ 8:44 pm

    Who can we direct our e-mails to if we oppose this move?
    Personally, I can’t see Translink getting that much out of this deal – $80k is pocket change.

    I don’t think advertising is reliable revenue stream. Nor should customers who pay for their cards be subjected to the ads. People generally put up with ads for things or services that are free.

    I would love my transit space with less ads.

    In all, it’s a worthless band-aid solution for funding.

  • By Meraki, December 17, 2010 @ 9:52 pm

    I have to join the others and agree, this pushes into the ‘intrusive’ category of advertising.

    When you ride the bus, SkyTrain etc. The ads are on the vehicles, in the stations. When you complete your trip, you are no longer seeing the ads. The transaction is complete.

    Having this FareCard ad staring at me in my wallet wherever I go feels inappropriate, as I’m not consuming TransLink services when being forced to view it.

    All for $84,000? Seriously?

  • By Meraki, December 17, 2010 @ 10:00 pm

    Also to the comment “It is a trade-off to be sure between value for the customer and revenue generation.”

    Looking at the advertising rates for the advertisements in SkyTrain stations


    One advertisement is $28,184 per year.
    Three would be $84,552.

    I think it’s safe to say that reception to three more station advertisements would be far better than this FareCard project.

    I don’t have many hopes that TransLink will listen and change their mind, as the Vancouver Sun has mentioned that 6 months worth of ad space is already sold (Plus hints of signing a contract with the vendor were mentioned.)

    Perhaps next time you could do some consulting with the public -before- making a decision like this.

  • By H, December 17, 2010 @ 10:43 pm

    I think this is a great idea to find any type of revenue small or big. Revenue is revenue and people need to realize it’s not cheap to run a transit system. People often think their $2.50 pays for a ride which in reality it doesn’t. Each bus that’s on the road cost $110/hr. The fare you pay upfront is only about 25% of the cost the other 75% is subsidized by other sources of revenue. How many people honestly stare at their farecards? not a whole lot. If anyone has better ideas of bringing in a minimum of $84,000 i’m sure translink wants to talk to you.

  • By Meraki, December 18, 2010 @ 12:46 am

    H, I did mention a better idea to bring in another $84,000. Maybe they should have talked to Lamar.

  • By C.Cassidy, December 18, 2010 @ 1:22 am

    Here’s a few questions I have

    1) How long is the contract with the supplier for? Or is it on a month-to-month trial?

    2) We know that $84,000/year is the minimum Translink will receive but the supplier must have a “target” amount of revenue. What is the “target” revenue for Translink?

    3) What will happen when we get the smart card in a few years? We all know it will replace fare cards, so will it to be plastered with ads?

    4) Whats the official dimensions of the advertising space?

    5) Whats the approximate advertising rates for the card on a monthly basis? (Of course a longer contract means a better deal) I’m sure if we get enough people interested we could purchase the space and have some fun. How about a “Bathe before busing” ad? :P

    6) Will prospective advertisers pay more money depending on the zones of the pass? There has to be more 1 zone passes sold then 3 zones.


  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, January 4, 2011 @ 11:02 am

    C.Cassidy: Here are the answers to your questions from my colleague in our advertising/marketing department.

    1) How long is the contract with the supplier for? Or is it on a month-to-month trial?
    The contract length is for one year (with option at TransLink discretion for a second year).

    2) We know that $84,000/year is the minimum Translink will receive but the supplier must have a “target” amount of revenue. What is the “target” revenue for Translink?
    This is a percentage of total revenue contract. TransLink will receive 60% of all net billings. We expect that amount will exceed $84,000, but if not, we still have the minimum guarantee in place.

    3) What will happen when we get the smart card in a few years? We all know it will replace fare cards, so will it to be plastered with ads?
    Whether we will or will not be advertising on Smart cards has not yet been determined.

    4) Whats the official dimensions of the advertising space?
    I don’t have the exact dimensions handy, but they could be found out by measuring the ad on the card.

    5) Whats the approximate advertising rates for the card on a monthly basis? (Of course a longer contract means a better deal) I’m sure if we get enough people interested we could purchase the space and have some fun. How about a “Bathe before busing” ad? :P
    For ad rates, contact the sales staff at Let’s Bus it.

    6) Will prospective advertisers pay more money depending on the zones of the pass? There has to be more 1 zone passes sold then 3 zones.
    No, they are currently sold as a package, but there is the possibility of selling by “zones” if clients are interested. Yes they would be priced differently based on volumes.

  • By fp252, December 18, 2010 @ 1:26 am

    I’d normally be fine with ads on FareCards. However, I strongly dislike the current proposal. Here’s why:

    a) The ad is too intrusive. It takes up nearly half the front of the FareCard, pushing the important info towards the side and making it less legible. Some sort of ad logo in the background as a watermark would work better.

    b) Advertisers would be benefiting more from this way more than TransLink would. As klparrot stated earlier, it would cost the advertiser a mere 5¢ to advertise on something that many commuters would be forced to carry to get around. Advertisers should be charged far more than that.

    c) There is very little that TransLink can do with only $84,000. That’s not enough to expand or introduce any type of service.

  • By Jim, December 18, 2010 @ 1:27 pm

    I like the advertisement on the fare card and have been asking for it for a long time. I think we really do need to look out side of the box for money and every bit counts. If the head line was that Translink was doubling the cost of buying a car or the gas tax every one would be up in arms and yet people always want more service and better service for less. I am really tired of people wanting things to be good on both sides. If you want the system we have or better then we are going to have to pay. Good work Translink for trying your best to reduce the tax payers burden.

  • By Dave 2, December 19, 2010 @ 12:03 am

    Only the top 1/4 of my farecards are visible in my wallet, which has always been good enough for fare inspection, so the ads will be hidden to me; I understand the anti advertising sentiment but on the other hand, public transit and advertising have been linked for decades;

  • By Reva, December 20, 2010 @ 2:59 pm

    Although I HATE advertising, I respect Translink for trying to come up with new funding sources.

    However, I think this idea is being poorly executed. An ad on a farecard really only reaches its intended audience ONCE, the first time they see it. The other 29-30 days of the month the card holder has to look at it, the ad is an annoying waste of space. Advertisers don’t seem to realize that they are doing themselves a DISSERVICE by promoting themselves so much and in such ways as to seriously piss off, and thus alienate, any potential customers subjected to those ads.

    Putting ads on transfers or faresavers would be better, due to their single-use/temporary nature. There’s a lot of white space there. Ten different ads could go into a booklet of faresavers. Many more people would be reached — practically EVERYONE who takes transit who doesn’t need to buy a monthly farecard! You get a bus transfer or train ticket, see your little ad, then get rid of it if you want to when your ride is done. Next day, new ad, different ad. Not as bad as seeing the same one every day for 30 days. More advertisers + more ads being seen by more people = more $ (and less resentment) for Translink.

    I like the idea that another person above suggested of just adding a couple more poster ads to Skytrain stations. If all you needed was 3 to generate the equivalent income of ads on farecards for a year, why not stick a few more posters in stations? Add one on the end of each row on each side of the station, or 4 more ads per station, x dozens of stations = $$$! And transit users will hardly notice the difference, but they will still see the new ads.

    Seriously — Translink should hold a few focus groups and/or Translink Listens polls to ask THEIR USERS where new ad placements within the system would be best received. I bet they could come up with a lot of great stuff.

  • By Jack, December 20, 2010 @ 11:58 pm

    Like many will be, I am pretty shocked to find an ad on my FareCard that I paid nearly $100 for. But on the other hand I’m happy that it’s keeping the costs down.

    To be honest though, it’s really intrusive and I’d rather spend a few extra bucks on my pass. Yeah, I’m pretty ticked off about the whole ordeal.

    Here’s why:
    – It’s an ad that I have to carry it when I’m not using transit.
    – It’s an ad that doesn’t fit into the rest of the style of the farecard.
    – Maybe I missed the memo, but did translink discuss this with, oh I don’t know, their customers?

    Perhaps a solution could be to have some advertisement style guidelines to make it not look like the atrocity I have beside me now.

    It’s kind of funny in a way. This is a signature translink move, cute.

  • By Eugene T.S. Wong, December 27, 2010 @ 9:30 pm

    It won’t really bother me, because I plan to leave the country, and I probably will never see a single ad on a pass.

    That being said, what they said about putting them on Faresavers and transfers is wise advice. In 1 book of Faresavers, you could have 1 comic randomly placed, among 9 well made ads, and then people will be inclined to read them.

    I encourage Translink to think about the challenges of selling baseball cards, and other various items, that had gimmicks. Crackers Jacks is a great example. They used to carry the toys, even though the food was fine. The ad would be like the Cracker Jacks, and some special about it, would be the toy. A couple of gums were sold with comics. Bazooka Joe could be collected, and redeemed. I remember Almost Live made a joke about becoming a millionaire, and finally being able to afford enough gum to get that baseball mitt.

    People are already disposing of Faresavers properly, so getting them to collect the Faresavers and receipts is not much of a stretch. After a customer redeems 20 Faresavers, for example, he could turn it in for a free food sample of a local business, or some kind of a great deal.

    Maybe the Faresavers could have some kind of an ad game, that will be rewarded by the sponsor. All of the Faresavers are normal, except for a few specially marked Faresavers. People will keep on looking for business names and contest words hidden on the Faresavers. It would be weird because most of the Faresavers would be just as they are now, but people would have so much incentive to know about the product being advertised and the business. They would have to search for the business and product words hidden on the transfer. It would be like everybody searching for the Boardwalk piece from McDonald’s.

    No matter what, I think that Translink should be placing ads, even if people pay more. There are a lot people missing their buses because the buses are too full. They deserve better treatment. Paying extra just so that they won’t get passed up is not an option. They should not get passed up at the current price.

    Bring on the ads.

  • By Zdenek, December 28, 2010 @ 9:22 am

    It is disappointing to see that Translink invades privacy of their users by placing ads on fare cards. When I buy a product or use a service like car rental I don’t get ads displayed on those products/services.

    If Translink wants to generate more revenues, they can look at a way to reduce their expenses or introduce more efficient processes and equipment. For example, daily we have hundred of buses idling at bus loops for more than 2 minutes. I see this all the time.

  • By Kelly, December 29, 2010 @ 11:30 am

    I hate this idea. Scrap it! >:( I HATE ADS!!!!!!!

  • By jaythordy, December 29, 2010 @ 2:11 pm

    Perhaps translink should take the advice from the majority of the comments posted here. It is so sad that the executives at translink need to line their pockets with more money. Why not cut the bonuses from the big wigs at translink to offset the costs? Honestly the pay cheque for the leaders at translink far surpasses what is considered fair. They get bonuses and raises while we as users of translink get less service and pay more for it.

    I am currently working with the media on a challenge to translink and the leaders of our transportation authority. I want to see a few from each area join us on the 99 B line in the morning. I would like them to board at either Clark Drive or Fraser during morning rush hour and travel to Sasamat stop in Point Grey. I would like them to do the opposite trek during the evening rush hour.

    Of course the reason for the advertising campaign is to keep fare costs down is being blasted as truth but in reality it is a nickle in the bucket within the overall picture. Translink must think people are truly stupid and that is quite a sad thing. Cut the executive bonus and salary increases and we will have the evergreen line in now time. Selling advertising on fare cards is not going to bring the evergreen line to us any sooner. Shame on translink for suggesting that this will help. We are all very insulted.

    Stay tuned for details. I already have 19,000 people on facebook in the lower mainland who are supporting the challenge. Let’s see how the executives at translink like it.

    All local media have been provided a copy of my email.

  • By Todd Sieling, December 30, 2010 @ 8:02 pm

    Disgraceful and in dignified. Is there any square inch of the transit experience that isn’t an ad space? Translink management needs to rethinkn how they see customers. When we’re not being scolded about fare policies we’re being constantly advertised to, and it’s making things suck, to out it bluntly. We’re not a captive audience for you to sell off!

  • By Todd Sieling, December 30, 2010 @ 11:25 pm

    Maybe it would help to start a fund to buy the seventh month of that ad space and run something like “Demand adequate transit funding from your elected government.”

    Regardless, customers should not be forced to carry an ad in order to have the benefits of a fare card.

  • By Sam McMug, December 31, 2010 @ 6:29 pm

    I won’t mind paying a few dollars more if Translink can remove the ad … how about an ad-free version of the farecards?

  • By Monthly Pass User, January 2, 2011 @ 9:17 pm

    Buzzer editor- you said that this is short term as smart card is coming in 2013. I just got my bus pass today and strongly against this kind of ad – somebody’s face on the card that i take out of my purse and see everyday until 2013. Please respect your customers. Out with this kind of ad in the monthly bus pass immediately and that means next month.

  • By Leslie Field, January 3, 2011 @ 2:04 pm

    When telemarketers, “research” companies or polling firms telephone me expecting free use of my time I tell that I am a consultant: my time is worth $150 per hour, are they prepared to pay that (in advance)? They quickly hang up.

    With the transit pass advertising my personal time and privacy are things of value as well. If I am forced to carry a five cent ad for a month against my will then surely that imposition is worth something — say the reimbursment cost of the pass?

    The ads are yet another intrusion on my personal space (see inside and outside bus ad examples above). Translink should not alienate its base. I believe the Pass ads do just that — I have not yet seen a single comment that actually welcomes the prospect of staring at an ad at least a couple of times a day.

    And what the heck is mticc, anyway (no, I’m NOT going to visit their website)?

  • By ???, January 3, 2011 @ 7:36 pm

    I wonder what criteria is there for selecting advertisements for the farecards. Does it go to the highest bidder with a monthly minimum eBay $82,000 reserve?

    Is there a surcharge above the $82,000 monthly fee for potentially controversial content? Controversial content such as political party messages, back pages of the Georgia Straight, car manufacturers, oil companies, cigarette companies, breweries, civic messages, PETA, energy drinks, religious greetings like “merry christmas”, and others already mentioned.

    Also instead of making ads exclusive. Have we considered giving customers choice of ads to support? But have a surcharge for those farecards without ads?

    I wonder if Revenue Canada will be advertising to remind us of our tax deadlines?

    Would Health Canada be invited to place a farecard ad since they were so willing to pay for 75% ad space on a cigarette box?

    Rental cars don’t place ads on the vehicles anymore to minimize break-ins and insurance claims. Rental cars are prime candidates for thieves knowing they are likely used by travellers with their valuables inside. U-Haul is a prime example of issues with exterior advertising on their vehicles.

  • By becky, January 3, 2011 @ 9:31 pm

    When I got the farecard today, I was so surprised by the new ad. I thought is was a fake farecard at first!! I don’t like the idea at all!! The ad is so obvious and it just take up all the spaces!! PLEASE REMOVE IT FOR THE FEBRUARY ONE!!!

  • By Eugene T.S. Wong, January 4, 2011 @ 2:07 pm


    Buying ad space to demand more funding would help to fund the system, but it would be a waste of money, because the big wigs would never see the ads, since they don’t use transit. ;^p

  • By Todd Sieling, January 4, 2011 @ 2:28 pm


    Ha, well put. My motivation would be to see people write into their representatives to make the demand directly, and to put their vote on the line for it.

    For what it’s worth, I like your idea about building in some way to make the ads lead to benefits for riders, even delight. For now, I’ve used a paper slip to cover the ad in its plastic cover, and wrote to this month’s sponsor to let them know that the ads aren’t going over well with me and leave a poor impression.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, January 4, 2011 @ 2:56 pm

    Thanks everyone for taking the time to put your thoughts here. I’m passing your comments along to our marketing team for feedback!

  • By kk, January 4, 2011 @ 11:17 pm

    I am completely horrified by the look of my January bus pass. And for only $84,000 a year? (minimum, I know) I agree with the person who said that we would pay 5 cents per rider not to have the ads on there! I will definitely be covering up the ad.

  • By Eugene T.S. Wong, January 4, 2011 @ 11:59 pm


    Thanks. As I came home tonight, I realized that the suggestions about advertising on the FareSavers and transfers are really the cat’s meow. I mean, it’s blank space.

    Maybe each book of FareSavers could have a mix of community announcements, paid ads, and actual art. The same with Transfers. Maybe each ad could be so well designed that several pieces could form a mosaic puzzle. I think that that would help to reduce transfers being given away.

    Even if the ads on the FareSavers and transfers only broke even, then we’d still be further ahead, if we actually enjoyed them.

    Writing into our representatives would be a good idea. The more that I think about it, the more that it makes sense. If 84,000 of us put in $1, then we could make a real statement. We could be political. Maybe we could even sell some ad space to somebody else…

  • By ;-), January 5, 2011 @ 8:00 am

    There was a guy in the news who proposed to his girlfriend at YVR and will be getting married at Roger’s Arena. Makes me wonder how long will marriage proposals appear as a FareCard ad. I think there’s been a few marriages held on Skytrain by now.

    I think there’s less than 700 of us on this blog. Not enough to get to the $84,000 mark.

  • By Eugene T.S. Wong, January 10, 2011 @ 12:19 am


    Thanks for the feedback.


    I just noticed a little activity ad, in the back of 1 of the local papers. We had to spot 10 differences between 2 photos. A couple of short looks made me realize that this was their way of advertising, but the ad was so well made, that I just assumed that the ad was a banner at the bottom of the page. It was only after I read the caption at the top that it began to make sense. I think that the ad company turned their full page ad into a nice activity. We had to find 10 differences. The amount of time that people spend looking at the ad probably gave them good value.

    Maybe Translink or that ad agency could do something like that. Some people get transfers. In the morning, they would get 1 picture, and in the afternoon or evening, then would get another. The overall idea, is that throughout the day, they would get 2 pictures for 1 ad, and then they would spend a few moments trying to find 2 or 3 differences.

    It would be good if Translink could also use it for alerting riders to any problems.

    I’m almost tempted to start buying ad space, too.

    I wonder how well these puzzles work, for reducing bus shelter vandalism. We can’t stop some people, but I imagine that some people will be distracted enough and pleased enough to not vandalize.

  • By Dane Brown, January 18, 2011 @ 11:43 pm

    I usually pay for my bus fare with coins and get a transfer. I noticed that my transfer doesn’t have any ads on it. Is it ok to draw my own ads on the transfer?

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, January 19, 2011 @ 10:16 am

    Dane: I’m not sure you’re meant to alter the transfer either! But once it’s expired, draw away :)

  • By Dane Brown, January 19, 2011 @ 12:39 pm

    I did this one before it expired. :(

  • By Dane Brown, January 19, 2011 @ 12:49 pm

    Maybe, so we don’t break any rules, we can agree that both Translink and I should only place ads on expired transfers/farecards. That seems fair.

  • By Jody, June 1, 2011 @ 9:05 am

    The latest ad is for Young Drivers of Canada. How is this encouraging folks to take transit?!!? Translink should really get their priorities straight..

Other Links to this Post

  1. Tweets that mention Ads coming to FareCards in January 2011 -- — December 17, 2010 @ 1:53 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

Please read our Participation Guidelines before you comment.