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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Damn vinyl wraps

One of the most obnoxious practises of vehicle operators is the prevalence of all over sponsor advertising coating both windows and panels. Whilst this may generate some marginal additional revenue to the business, it importantly degrades the image of the service and irritates the hell out of passengers inside obliged to peer through myriad little holes of the vinyl cladding. Blackpool's double deck trams were notable for this practise in the later years of traditional operation; whilst at least one of the current light rail fleet is burdened with this practise.

Possibly good for your heart but definitely not for your vision. The wholly unattractive nature of wrap around advertising on a double deck bus - creating what is in essence a mobile advertising hoarding.

Advertising agents were fond of Blackpool 'Balloon' cars and indeed some of the single deck trams - remember the 'Kit Kat' Centenary car for example. Now that the survivors are confined to limited use as tour cars, the commercial case (fortunately) for plastering external vinyls over the entire tram has lapsed. Instead attention has seemingly turned to the double deck bus fleet with woeful results (whatever the message) as shown above on 329 passing through Layton this week.

Whatever additional revenue achieved through this policy has to be marginal at best for the operator - and when set against the irritation caused to passengers (principal source of revenue) and equally important the overall image of the Operator there is a considerable downside omitted in revenue accounting.

Especially so when the practise involves trams during the illuminations season. The difficulties of trying to actually view displays is an exercise in frustration for passengers. It is hard enough for anyone on a fully loaded 'Flexity' complete with standing passengers to get any meaningful glimpse of the lighting features from a low floor tram without visual impediment of a wrap around vinyl covering all the windows (excepting the driving ends). Hence the quite understandable desire of knowing visitors to queue up for a double deck balloon on tour, and head upstairs to grab seats as fast as possible. Only the example still coated with 'Hounds Hill' shopping centre vinyls continues to present impediments for all having to travel on it.

One can empathise with the occasional 'one-off' sponsorship for a good cause such as the excellent designs on two buses for the Royal British Legion's Poppy Appeal two years ago. But at a time when BTS is expending considerable efforts in 'upping its brand' with a fleet of distinctive new buses and image making materials - the sponsor vinyl cladding deals are having the opposite impact on the public (sorry - the customers). Let us hope that the new buses are spared the attention of some temptful advertising proposal to blot out the 'Palladium' image with a consumer sales pitch for sofas/crisps/chocolates/ice cream/other comestibles/iphone or other.

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