Toronto’s Transit Commission (more commonly known as the TTC) is putting in pairs of 29-inch ceiling mounted screens in 525 buses over the next two years, and somewhat surprisingly, they’re being used properly as passenger information displays and not for “captive” advertising.
TTC spokesperson Stuart Green told Daily Hive each of the new buses will display basic information, such as stop names and the current time, but said it will not be a platform for third-party advertising.
“We are in the process of working with customers and stakeholders to design the screen layout, but they will eventually include things like route, next stop announcement, confirmation of stop request, customer announcements, service alerts – information we have found is most valued by customers based on our research,” said Green.
The cost of the screens and the installation is $1,750 per bus, which is a bit of a rounding error for many-wheeled beasts that can cost up to $1 million. There are just a couple in service now, but more are on the way this year and next. The buses already have charging ports for smartphones (which is clever and useful).
Transit commissions have routinely welcomed media companies who wanted to put screen infrastructure on platforms and inside rolling stock with the idea of providing passenger information that is “supported” by advertising. The local governments like the easy revenue stream they get from a share of ad revenues or guaranteed payments.
The TTC has long had a deal with Pattison for screens on its platforms around the city, so I assumed that’s what was happening here. Looking at the layout, the cynic in me thinks ads will worm their way in over time, whether riders like it or not. Time will tell.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.