Community connections beyond the bus route

Madison Metro’s interaction with the community extends beyond providing it with transportation–their advertising department has made the walls of their buses as important as the wheels that carry them.

“Our sales person sells it as ‘the bus is your canvas,’” said Jessy Stammer, the Marketing Specialist for Madison Metro. “So the exterior of the bus is up to your imagination and what you can do with it.”

Due to its smaller size, Madison Metro gets more local ads for their buses than bigger cities. These local ads are primarily for local businesses. Madison Metro uses this fact to enhance their connection with the community.

“We wanted to focus more on local ads,” said Mick Rusch, the Metro Marketing and Customer Service Manager. “We wanted to give everyone the opportunity [to advertise] because Metro is so engrained and involved in the community. So we wanted to give everyone a chance to be seen on our vehicles, especially since our buses go throughout town.”

Madison Metro allows ads in most places except bus shelters. The ads on the sides and the backs of the buses range from small rectangles to larger spaces that cover an entire side. The inside of buses typically have ads near the ceiling.

Regardless of the size of the space, Madison Metro works to ensure that local businesses know the space exists for them.

“We are out there looking to sell people this advertising space and letting them know that we have a great ad space to give them,” Rusch said.

Madison Metro’s advertising department also puts their own ads on buses.

“We have the luxury of that space being ours, so if we have vacant space we like to print our own messages and put them on,” Rusch said.

These can range from promoting new routes to announcing service changes. These ads can even allow Madison Metro to reach out to its own employees.

“We’ve done safety award campaigns in the past,” Stammer said. “We mentioned drivers who have had safe driving records.”

The money Madison Metro makes through ads contributes significantly to their budget.

“Our official long range goal is to get 1 percent of our operating budget done through advertising, which would be about $500,000,” Rusch said. “We’re not quite there yet, but we’re getting very close to this goal.”