Editor’s Scratchpad

See ’em coming,
read ’em going

I once got on TheBus and the driver was slyly selling bags of potato chips to the passengers. At the time I thought that was pretty funny, but now -- now that we've got one of the most expensive bus services in the country, and one that seems determined to alienate formerly loyal riders -- selling snacks and soft drinks to the passengers might be an easy way of keeping costs down. Hey, why not a rolling wet bar and disco?

If not chips, how about newspapers? I know a good one.

While traveling in England recently, I was struck by the high visual quality of advertising graphics stuck on public transport. The process is called ScotchPrint, and it's a combination of dye- sublimation and ink-jet printing on peel-and-stick vinyl. The ads are quickly installed and easily removed, and look like a professional custom-vehicle airbrush job.

Here's the thing -- the ads were largely confined to the rear of the bus. Yeah, the big flat part that's right in front of you as you inch through traffic. The sides of the buses were pretty much left alone. Perhaps opponents of a recent proposal to raise revenue by selling advertising on city buses would be satisfied with restrictions like that.

With the quality of this printing, the "ad" doesn't have to be boring or wordy. Imagine the Academy of Arts reproducing some of their paintings, the Visitors' Bureau showing scenic vistas, a giant, color map showing the bus routes, swimwear manufacturers showing you-know, a big picture of Mayor Harris looking pained, explaining exactly how to cash in your old bus passes.

Think of it as a public-art, public information project.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.


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