When the First Hill Streetcar starts running through Capitol Hill later this year, it won’t just be the trolley cars appearing on the urban landscape. Sponsorship advertising will pepper the station shelters, trolley interiors, and completely cover some streetcars running the 2.5 mile route through Pioneer Square, the International District, First Hill, and Capitol Hill.
Initially, two of the six streetcars will be available for “full wrap” sponsorships, similar to those seen on the South Lake Union line. One of the two wraps has already been secured for the second half of 2015, though a Seattle Department of Transportation spokesperson wouldn’t say who bought it.
The other full wrap is being held for Sound Transit, which has the option to purchase the sponsorship at a preferred rate.The four other streetcars will be available for “identity package” sponsorships — small signs on the outside of the streetcar and audio messages played inside the cars.
The multi-hued exteriors of those cars, “inspired” by the “different characteristics” of the neighborhoods they traverse, were revealed last month at a test run with Mayor Ed Murray. The Capitol Hill inspired car got a hot pink treatment to represent the “modern energy” of the neighborhood. Here are the other colors and what they represent:
- Baby blue for the children born at First Hill hospitals
- Jade green to represent Vietnam and Little Saigon
- Gold for Pioneer Square’s history in the Klondike Gold Rush
- Red and Yellow, traditional Chinese colors, for Chinatown
Sponsoring a full wrap on the First Hill line will run you $6,000 a month plus a $10,000 one-time production fee. Identity packages cost $15,000 a year and interior panels will go for $500 a month. All revenue generated from the the sponsorships goes directly back into the operations budget for First Hill line.
SDOT director Scott Kubly has said that the vehicle wraps in South Lake Union have been the most popular, while shelter sponsorships have lagged behind. Under an expanded shelter sponsorship program that will include benches, Kubly said he hopes to improve on the sponsorship sales. An SDOT spokesperson said several interested sponsors have already come forward.
The streetcars and their sponsored exteriors won’t be seen on Broadway until very late in the testing process this summer. SDOT officials say the testing won’t make it up the Hill until there are three or four cars ready for service conditions. At that point, SDOT can begin a process of mimicking standard service. An official said the streetcar then needs to perform as planned for about two weeks. Once it passes that test, the new trams — including our special hot pink car — will be ready for business.
In March, CHS reported on SDOT’s new contract with the Czech Republic company manufacturing the trolleys to keep new streetcar project serving Capitol Hill from falling any further behind schedule. According to SDOT, the sixth and final car in the Inekon deal is due by June 30th.
When it does start running, streetcars will arrive at the 10 stops every 10-15 minutes from 5 AM to 1 AM Monday to Saturday and 10 AM to 8 PM on Sundays and holidays.
The streetcar’s current northern terminus will deliver riders to Broadway and Denny — across the street from Capitol Hill Station. A plan to extend the streetcar and the bikeway north on Broadway to Roy by 2017 is underway.
Meanwhile, the city is working to better optimize Seattle’s first streetcar route as the SLUT has seen a downtick in ridership as traffic in the corridor it travels has caused a slowdown in service. The city is planning to drop two car lanes in order to speed up service.
I love the euphemism “sponsorship” for “advertising.” It’s just more visual noise in our era of the visual tsunami. And we all know that we, as a society, have encouraged advertising to be the savior of us all.
And why did they even bother coming up with a scheme of colors when their real goal is wrap the trains with advertisements? Maybe as a counter balance there should be program of 13 weeks a year (25%) where the trains are wrapped by juried, artist-created work which are nothing more than rolling art projects? Maybe they could double the advertising rates to fund this program?
My feeling is that if we must be subjected to even more advertising there should be some benefit to us, the public, who have no choice but to look at these visual, moving billboards. And remember this is the city that banned billboards and the state that first passed the highway beautification act because we, as a civilized society said enough was enough!
Yes, things cost a lot of money these days, and increasingly so, but is advertising the only business model? Has anyone thought of other ways to do it? Or even stopped to consider others and sought out advice from the customers or potential customers?
Yes…its advertising. you will be ok. These things run on money…not good feelings
WE WILL NOT BE OK! It’s that kind of reactionary, corporation-loving mylarky that has destroyed this city. And you, for wanting our lives stripped of non-branded space until we dream dreams sponsored by Comcast, deserve live somehwere else: where your brand of dead-eyed, mass market existence is appriciated.
I’m sorry you’re so easily imprinted that seeing an ad on a streetcar will make you dream Comcast dreams. I’m quite capable of tuning them out, thankyouverymuch. I can’t even tell you the last ad I noticed on a bus– that’s how much they impact me. And if I’m given the choice of local businesses subsidizing public transit, or having my property taxes raised that much more so we can have a nice blank trolley, it’s a pretty easy decision in my book. Not even close.
nobody wants to pay MORE taxes. but neither do people want ads on busses and trolleys. everyone will bitch if they have ad free public transit but have to pay $5-$10 per one-way ride. and at he same time they want expanded services for less money.
something has to give people. and if that something is an ad on the side of a transit vehicle, then so be it.
I can ignore the signs, but the audio messages are going to be a real annoyance. Try looking around that.
Where have you been since the 1950’s?
Given how slow these will be moving, it will be very easy to read the ads.
You mean while they are parked in traffic…
“The multi-hued exteriors of those cars, “inspired” by the “different characteristics” of the neighborhoods they traverse”
Sounds like there must be some bored marketing people at SDOT. Does anyone care that the colors of the streetcars represent something?
The choice of colors – and the twee announcement around those colors – does seem ridiculous considering that advertising will cover the cars.
At this point, I don’t care if they are covered with ultra bright LED displays and an ice cream truck soundtrack – just get them running already!
Assuming the complete wraps will be the same as those on the buses, they are particularly annoying in the summer months. It’s bad enough if you have to be on public transportation anyway, heading to or from work on a beautiful day, but you can’t even look out the window unless it’s through the tiny holes that make the inside look like another dreary winter day.
There are wraps on the SLU streetcars, and the windows are NOT covered, so I doubt these would be.
Anyone who didn’t expect there to be advertising festooning every blank space on the street car was seriously deluding themselves.
I personally don’t like the wraps from the inside when they reduce the light (when they overlap windows with that tight grid). But if I had to choose between ads and higher fare, I’ll go for the ads, because I get the ultimate revenge: I don’t buy anything.
I do hope as far as interior ads they include space for public service messages as Metro does.
Yay sponsorships! Rah, rah streetcars! It’s gonna be terrific, is what. “The four other streetcars will be available for “identity package” sponsorships — small signs on the outside of the streetcar and audio messages played inside the cars.”
Let’s remember, riders aren’t just statistics for SDOT, they’re consumers of many product brands. They can ride to the tune of a lovely jingle: Welcome to the Odorono Street Car Line, Don’t Stink it up, smell like a lime / use our product, use our product, use our product.
Or imagine, if they get it in place for the political season, the posting above does not say candidate ads are excluded, so perhaps we’ll see. Vote for Councilperson X, she’ll spend lots and lots more money on trolley car lines. Less riders? No problem, the city will just ban cars from the roadway, giving people less choice. Now, that’s leadership! (Presumably) she’s been endorsed by the Capitol Hill Blog!
sorry, i think i missed what your brilliant solution is, to our public transits woes, in the middle of all that. please to repeat?
Since the “baby blue” color was chosen to represent babies born in First Hill hospitals, no doubt someone will accuse Sound Transit of sexism.
I thought Capitol Hill was supposed to be an “Arts District” now or something? I guess a 48-foot long photo of a lizard telling me how I can save on car insurance is a kind-of art, but it wasn’t what I was expecting …
Are you saying I can save on car insurance? Why is this the first I’ve heard of this?!
This is tacky. If people want to sponsor our public transit, we should honor them with a subtle plaque. We don’t allow advertising on billboards here and we shouldnkt allow it on our shared infrastructure, regardless of the bribe offered.
That’s a great idea in theory, and it sounds all classy and everything. But try proposing that to a company considering how to spend their advertising $$, and most of them that don’t have “sky’s the limit” ad budgets will quickly conclude they’ll get better results spending their limited funds elsewhere. And you’ll get a lot of “thanks, but no thanks”.
I like you’re term, “bribe.” That’s a powerful and loaded word but just as good as any.
Alternatively, let’s sell advertising everywhere. We could let those with the most money shove their messages in our face everywhere we go. On the walls of City Hall–inside and out, on the streets, on the sidewalks, trash cans, on our park shelters. Let’s go all out to maximize revenue, keeping fares low. Tree wraps for sponsors. Sell hand jobs in the backs of buses. The works.
Public transit should be a source of civic pride. Who’s proud of a roving billboard plastered with messages from those who offer money to support transit on the condition that they get to shove their messages in our faces?
Exactly! Screw these trains, I’ll go on a bus where there is no adver… oh wait.
My sense of pride in our transit system is based on something a little more substantial. The somewhat superficial question of whether or not they’re ad free won’t jeopardize that.
Public transit should effectively move city residents from one place to another; civic pride is not the primary goal.
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