December 21, 2010

Innovative ads bring in revenue for Caltrain


Think of train wraps as wallpaper — but for the entire exterior of a rail car. Businesses can choose to wrap just one train car or cover an entire five-car train. When Caltrain opened this venue in 2004, Target was the inaugural advertiser.


The traditional real estate market may not have fully recovered from the economic downturn, but California commuter rail service, Caltrain is having some success using a different type of real estate to generate much-needed revenue. Two innovative types of outdoor advertising, train wraps and station saturation, have brought in approximately $100,000 this fiscal year.  

CBS Outdoor is Caltrain’s real estate broker. The national outdoor media company is soliciting businesses to literally plaster themselves to Caltrain. 





Businesses can choose to wrap just one train car or cover an entire five-car train. When Caltrain opened this venue in 2004, Target was the inaugural advertiser. The concept was so successful that the retailer is currently using two complete Caltrain train sets to advertise the introduction of fresh produce at its stores.

Other train wraps have included San Francisco Giants, Stanford football, San Jose Sharks and radio station 93.3 RAZA. Soon to be rolling along the rails will be a train car wrapped by Web services company AOL.

With the train traveling through densely populated area between San Francisco and San Jose, hundreds of thousands of people have the opportunity to see the ads.

Station Saturation
Many businesses have opted to saturate the San Francisco train station with ads — overhead, on pillars and even under foot. This is a popular venue because of the thousands of passengers that pass through the station each day and more during special events.

The station at Fourth and King streets also is a highly visible location, which allows pedestrians and drivers passing by to glimpse the ads. Station saturation advertisers have included Jamba Juice, WebEx, JP Morgan Chase, and, most recently, the Hawaii Tourism Board.




While this unique program to generate revenue won’t wipe out Caltrain’s structural deficit, it definitely is helping the bottom line.

Caltrain, owned and operated by the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board, operates between San Francisco and San Jose, with commute service to Gilroy. Average weekday ridership on the mix of 90 local, limited and express weekday trains is 42,000. Local, hourly service is provided on Saturdays and Sundays.

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