Bus Crashes Auto Show with Killer Ad

By Christopher Yuen

This coming weekend for the first time, GO Transit, Toronto’s regional transit agency, will be displaying one of their buses at the Canadian International Auto Show.  They’ve also made a fantastically theatrical ad touting an amazing technology that’s even better than the self-driving car.

Dramatic?  Yes, but only fitting for a densely populated city where nearly 50 percent of commutes into downtown are made by transit, and where the mobility of everyone is dependent on not everybody travelling in individual cars, self-driving or not.

7 Responses to Bus Crashes Auto Show with Killer Ad

  1. EJ February 15, 2019 at 7:49 am #

    Reminds me of this classic and similarly epic Danish ad from a few years ago: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75F3CSZcCFs

  2. Brent February 16, 2019 at 11:35 am #

    It’s a great ad, but I’m not sure that “bus crashes” is the best choice of words for the headline!

  3. Max Wyss February 16, 2019 at 6:11 pm #

    Clever ad, I like it.

  4. Sean Gillis February 20, 2019 at 6:01 am #

    It’s a great ad, but is it really going to make a difference in people’s perception of the bus? We’ve got car companies bombarding us with messages that cars are cool, which is amplified through movies, TV and all sorts of media. Cars are cool, cars are sexy, cars mean freedom. How many millions of dollars are spent propping up this message, everywhere, all the time?

    Meanwhile the bus is the loser cruiser. One great ad might make a tiny impact, but it gets drowned out by the rest of our culture. Transit agencies and allies just don’t have the cash or time to really make a sustained push to change this narrative. With transit agencies often so tight for cash, it seems like putting cash into making the bus ‘cool’ is not the right priority. Put the marketing budget into totally un-cool stuff like making sure people know how useful the system is – schedules, stop level info, great maps, clear wayfinding, etc.

    Sorry to be such a downer – it’s a great ad, but will it have a real impact.

    • Robert Wightman February 22, 2019 at 11:03 am #


      It is an outer suburb – intercity commuter service and it carries over 60,000 per day on its buses and a total of around 280,000 on trains and buses so people know about it. Putting it in the auto show might make new people consider it. A lot of the buses serve as feeders to the train lines in the rush hour then replace the trains by providing a mid day, evening and weekend service on the routes that can’t sustain of peak train services. They also run a route that runs a circumferential route around the main city and joins up a number of community colleges and universities.

    • Dave February 25, 2019 at 7:05 am #

      Doing the opposite – creating no ads for the bus – probably won’t have a “real” impact either.

      • Sean Gillis February 28, 2019 at 5:26 am #

        I’m not saying don’t market the bus (or train, or ferry). I think marketing to make transit cool is unlikely to have a real impact. The money should be spent on more prosaic stuff like good maps, schedules and maps at stops, and targeted campaigns at big employers like hospitals and universities. A transit planner from Auckland, New Zealand once told me that the best bang for their marketing dollars was putting up maps and schedules at every stop.

        My neighbourhood has the best bus route in my city – 10 minute service all day into the late evening, going past a major university, near hospitals, to a shopping mall and directly through downtown. I’d market that route – it’s frequency and usefulness – in my neighbourhood and elsewhere along the route. I’m continually surprised how few neighbours use this excellent route, or even know how useful their bus route is.