It's #TransitTuesday so let's talk #trains & #tracks. Meaning real time train-generated club music tracks. As in this collaboration between a real live Warsaw train and electronic music artists Mount Kimbie for tequila beer brand Desperados' unique music festival experiences. Sometimes the journey is the destination.

Don't squish your fellow passengers with large bags.
Be courteous and give your seat to others in need.

Don't drip your umbrella on others.
Don't eat on the subway.

Don't be a drunk salaryman falling asleep on others on the subway.
Don't run over the Achilles' Heels of old ladies with your roller suitcase on the subway platform.
Don't try to squeeze yourself through the doors when they're closing
Keep your smartphone or tablet off.

Keep the volume on your headphones down.

Offering your seat, lowering your headphone volume, not being a drip - and other ways to be a better co-commuter. This poster series from Tokyo Metro charms and disarms to improve commuters & commutes.

Could this be one of the most innovative transportation ads in recent times? 

Sure sounds like it. 

This campaign for Thalys promotes three Thalys high speed rail destinations: Brussels, Amsterdam and Paris by way of soundscape rather than landscape. 

Allow me to share with you kind reader, one of two Pinterest transit boards curated by yours truly, gathering together a whack of transit advertising. (That's transportation advertising to those of you living outside North America.) Enjoy.

Follow Gavin's board Transit advertising on Pinterest.

  • VivaNext is transforming the places in which the people of York Region live and work, and the ways they move between them. Fittingly, our vision-first, multi-device-aware web site for vivaNext celebrates the joy of that transformation, while being transparent and informative about every detail of the journey. It humanizes what vivaNext does by travelling in the footsteps of the people who will benefit most. And oh, it also wins awards - most recently, a Summits Award. Created in collaboration with Richard Almasi, now of Kinetic Design, the all-new site is vivaNext’s interactive, responsive, always-on online home: educative, engaging, empowering and empathetic. Jump on. Be moved. Click here.

We're not used to using words like Cannes, One Show and "millions of views" in the context of transit advertising. Until now. 

In news just out, Melbourne Metro's "Dumb ways to die" has taken five grand prix awards at Cannes, the most ever won by a single campaign, winning in film, radio, PR, direct and integrated categories.

Dumb ways to die is simply the biggest creative campaign of the year - across all categories - not just transit. 

Yes, that's right - it is, in fact, a transit campaign. 

With its quirky lyrics, hooky tune, and kooky cast of animated misfits, this is more music video than ad. There's no shock advertising here - Dumb Ways to Die appeals directly to the intelligence of the viewer and it uses wit and charm to disarm. 

Dumb ways to die was originally deployed as a youtube video. Within a week, the video had attracted over 15 million views. At the time of this post, the video had crossed the 50 million viewer mark. 

The Dumb Ways to Die song reached the top 10 chart of iTunes within 24 hours of release and hit number six in the singer/songwriter category on iTunes' global chart a mere 48 hours later. 

In the ultimate proof of viral success, the video has prompted an explosion of global parodies, and variations.

What about real life results? After all this is a campaign meant to save lives. Well, post-campaign, Melbourne Metro reported a 21 per cent reduction in accidents. 

Virality is an indicator of cultural impact and cultural impact usually either leads to or springs from behavioural change - it's safe to predict that the longer term impact on behavioural change will be even more impressive.

The campaign has practically become a franchise - with an iPhone/iPad game app, a karaoke version of the song and animated GIFs - links provided below - as well as images from the print campaign.

The new free iPhone / iPad game! Now the lives of those adorably dumb characters are in your hands:
Download the song:
Sing along to the official karaoke version:

Advertising Agency: McCann, Melbourne, Australia
Executive Creative Director: John Mescall
Creative Director: Pat Baron
Art Director: Pat Baron
Copywriter: John Mescall
Illustrator: Julian Frost
Account Supervisor: Adrian Mills
Producers: Mark Bradley, Cinnamon Darvall
Account Manager: Alec Hussain
Planner: Adrian Mills

To bring Poetry Month to the end of its 2013 journey, a short and evocative bus poem. Enjoy the ride and mind the doors when exiting.

Gentlemen and ladies
Gentlemen and ladies, students, babies,
Girls and guys, hushed voices and loud cries.

Intellectuals and comedians, wise men and bohemians,
Discuss and ponder while dreamers look yonder.

Musicians muse and old friends swap news, 
Lovers smile,
The bus completes another mile
by Sharmila Goodhur
quoted from the Brookes University (Oxford) site. 


Image by Logan Pearsall, illustrator, 


Here's a perfect extension to our preceding post.

Even an ordinary everyday commute can be made sweeter with the right musical accompaniment.
Here, The Copenhagen Philharmonic creates a moment of pure commuter joy.

The music is Grieg's exquisite Peer Gynt. If only every commute began and ended this way.
Shared with us by our client at vivaNext, Kathryn Webber.


This excellent, elegant campaign for Sony Walkman Mp3 players from Saatchi&Saatchi Sydney presents the notion of the infinite playlist. Available only when music and commuting intersect.

Advertising Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi, Sydney, Australia
Creative Director: Steve Back
Art Director: Eron Broughton
Copywriter: Steve May
Illustrator: Electric Art
Production: Jeremy DeVilliers
Published: July 2008

via Ads of the World
May is Asian Heritage Month and on Pushing Buses, I thought I'd celebrate it with a famous award-winning commercial for the MTR from Hong Kong.

The ad is beautifully shot and the idea is simple: the MTR - which is Hong Kong's subway system - is one of those things you can always count on.

And oh.

The MTR just happens to be that rare and exotic thing: a profitable transit system.

While les bicyclistes figure prominently in modal share marketing discussions, we rarely see what bike retailers and manufacturers are saying in the bike-as-vehicle space. What we do see tends to be limited and limiting. Not true for this particular billboard from Canadian retailer Cycle Chic.

One clever headline that attacks cars and liberates drivers. 

Viva la liberté!

Billboard shared via Facebook by frequent collaborator, Toronto photographer Hasnain Dattu. 

For me, April is the coolest month - to twist a phrase from TS Eliot - because it is Poetry Month. And every April, here on Pushing Buses, I try to find a way to celebrate the meeting of transportation and poetry.

This year, I thought I would share John Grierson's reading of the WH Auden's poem Night Train. Auden specially wrote the poem for Grierson's 1936 documentary Night Train. It's quite a ride.

All aboard!



GOOD does it well again. One of my longtime favourites places to get my info-graphic fix, GOOD combines smart data envisioning with a clever video to produce an immediate, easily understood and extremely effective message. Thanks to Kathryn Webber, our client at vivaNext for sharing the GOODness.

We've been hearing interesting phrases in the transit marketing world - phrases from the wrong side of the tracks. Phrases like "the war on the car is over." Really?

There never really was a war on the car. In fact the war has always been waged on transit by what I call the Carverse. And that clever phrase I quoted above, is just one continuing example.

The Carverse is now either trying to paint itself as greener and more sustainable than transit, or just straight out stealing what is most attractive about transit and using it for its own purposes.

Here's a case in point. Someone has finally figured out what's so great about the schematic transit maps like London's iconic Tube map. And they realised what a great improvement it would be if the same design principles were applied to the US interstate network. Of course, the result is elegant and simple. But it's over 70 years old. And transit had the idea first.

Stop stealing our toys car-marketers. Because we're not afraid to steal yours. And guess what? Our claims will actually be true.

It is amazing to see a campaign go from strength to strength with every execution but that's what happens when you start with a great idea, a single idea, that you stay faithful to, every single time.

I've posted two previous commercials for Brussel's De Lijn bus transit, but then our clients Ivana Tomas and Kim Moser of Brampton Transit sent me a third - the excellent Anteater spot.

I went digging and found more - here are all four of De Lijn's spots.

The message couldn't be simpler - it's smarter to travel in groups.
A deadly simple thought that transforms the humble bus commute into simple, entertaining fables about the empowerment as enjoyed by a community of riders.

If I met the creative team responsible, I'd give them a hug.

There's even an iPhone and Android app game based on the campaign.


Article and blog, copyright Gavin Barrett 2012.
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada

Equal parts corporate video and transit brand ad, this piece for SNCF pulls out all the stops in this brilliantly animated video. It's a trip. Produced by animator ChezEddy and directed by Maxime Bruneel for Elephant at Work.

This admittedly nicely produced ad for Network Rail attempts to be all things to all people. 

I hear the client's voice rather clearly.
"I say, we have some rather inconvenient news to deliver. Construction may slow things a tad for people trying to get in and out of London this Christmas. But we do owe it to the public to let them know. Public accountability and all that rot, y'know. 
And oh, let's keep it positive this time, shall we - let's have no apologies for the inconvenience or any such pre-Thatcher public sector claptrap. Excellent! 
And oh dear lord, I nearly forgot, make it all nice and Christmas-y would you? 
Good lad! Excellent!"

In the immortal words of of Seth Meyers, "Really? Really?"

It is tough to do a good job selling transit-in-development or transit-oriented development, but this big budget, slickly produced spot does a good job of exciting the imagination of the viewer, whether urban-plan-fan, anorak/trainspotter or regular commuter Joes.

"Building tomorrow's network while running today's", says the voiceover.

The English version offers "Tomorrow on track today" as the tagline that closes the spot which sounds rather corporate mission-statement-ish. For communication value, I much prefer the French version which in spirit, says "we have big plans for you." capturing the vision angle with a lovely light touch.

Réseau Ferré De France is the company that builds, maintains and runs the French national railway network. This advertising campaign seems to be well ahead of its website - which while not too badly designed, is a touch dated, and a little too corporate to be effective. Pushing Buses, which has a proprietary Rayon-Polyester-Microfibre-Carbon dating process to estimate such things, dates it circa 2006.

You can watch the "making of" video here, if that's the sort of thing that turns your crank.

Bon voyage mes amis!

Article and blog, copyright Gavin Barrett 2011. 

San Francisco's BART has long been one of the best transit marketers in the world.

They get it right pretty consistently every time they communicate, whether it's through social media, their website or plain old-fashioned advertising.

A good example is this guerilla marketing effort - a swing installed on BART trains, a few delicious seconds of childlike freedom on your daily commute.

Earth Bus

Earth Bus

Most adults think school kids should be kept away from spray paint. But when they do take a chance they discover there is no energy cleaner than youth energy. In San Diego, school kids were set loose on this San Diego Transit Bus. They left their mark: beautiful images promoting planet friendly activities.

Grass-bus: Mobile lawn spreads environmental awareness at Thessaloniki

Created for Thessaloniki's Innovation Festival, this urban bus takes a leaf out of the suburban lawn to promote green living, clean energy and energy conservation. Inside the bus other greenovations are displayed. The bus itself was moved around, showing up in city squares and other festival venues to surprise, entertain and educate.

The second of those elegant, eloquent, utterly seductive Intercity commercials.
It's a train come true.
This post is first in a series of classic 80s ads for Intercity in the UK, that bring back the romance of travel.

This is persuasion and communications at their best, reminding us always that it's not about the destination it's about the journey. Enjoy it.

Pay for the Subway Using Your iPhone

This new technology being tested on the NYC subway system could make boarding even more rapid on BRT.

via - link to article above
Pushing trains should be easier if you're one of the Mad Men, no?

To all promoters, champions and fans of transit and public transportation. Spread the word. Another winter reason to ride, courtesy Statoil.
Will post credits and kudos when I find out whodunnit.

With 705,000 views, this video went viral a while ago. You don't need to understand Mandarin to appreciate the brilliant simplicity of inventor Chen Jianjun's concept: a train that never has to stop at a station. Designed for use on the high speed Wuhan-Guangzhou corridor, the concept uses detachable (and dock-able) disembarkation pods for on-the-go passenger transfers. In eliminating just 15 three-minute stops on the 968-kilometre stretch it would save 45 minutes. The Wugang Passenger Railway, as the line is also known, is already the world's fastest train service (313 km/h average speed impress you much?). It opened for service in December 2009.

"The Train that Never Stops" was a fascinating idea in the first place as its viewership attests, but now it has hit the big time - it made it into the New York Times Magazine's The Year in Ideas - an annual celebration of extraordinary thinking.

It's a big week for transit and sustainable cities in New York Time's T magazine. No less than five different travel and transportation innovations were mentioned in this travel issue. Teague's barebones stripped-down vision for high fuel efficiency flying - labelled Flight 2.0. A nod at Inspiro, BMW Group DesignworksUSA exciting new subway train design for Siemens. Joey Ruiter's Inner City unchained unicycle-based back-to-basics bicycle. Priestmangoode's double-decker bullet Mercury Train. And Thomas Heatherwick's modern icon for an old one - a replacement for London's classic, red open-platform, Routemaster double-decker buses. Woohoo.
Our creative for Züm, Brampton's new rapid transit service is on the road and in the press with some very positive attention - and in the Toronto Star and the Metro. As we like to say, we just make ideas. It's the ideas that make the news.
Take a look at the Star article by clicking here.

Or take a gander at these ads to see what all the fuss is about.

Article and blog, copyright Gavin Barrett 2010.

Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence.

So is this what it's coming to?

Because we can't convince people to choose buses over their cars, we'll just drive buses over them cars!

Yee haaa!

via @huffingtonpost: China Plans Huge Buses That Can DRIVE OVER Cars. No, it's not a monster bus derby.
This little low-budget video has probably done more to promote ridership on transit than many rubbishy advertising campaigns.


Dating Humor:
How To Chat Someone Up On The Train, Bus Or Tube

How To Chat Someone Up On The Train, Bus Or Tube (Love & Dating: Dating Humor)

A simple smart advertising campaign can go a long way towards converting drivers to riders.
Luck led me to this posting on sustainable urban transportation blog, The City Fix.

One campaign in particular caught my eye - the comparative, good vs. bad, cars vs. buses Go Metro ads made their point with clarity and immediacy. I went hunting for the rest of the campaign and found a treasure trove at another blog Long Winded and Proud.

Check out the Naughty vs Nice t-shirts they distributed to baristas - a lovely grassroots touch.

Images via The City Fix and Long Winded and Proud.
Article and blog, copyright Gavin Barrett 2010.

Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence.

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