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The Toronto Wrapped Buses Gallery

Text by James Bow

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Before the early 1990s, advertising on TTC transit vehicles was limited to what could be printed and fitted into special frames mounted on the sides of vehicles. There were few options for advertisers to make a bolder statement. While transit vehicles, and even TTC streetcars could be repainted for special occasions, the cost of doing so was prohibitive. Transit agencies were not willing to take the time and effort, not to mention the paint, just to get an advertiser’s message out, unless the advertiser was willing to pay for it.

In the 1990s, however, advances in printing technology allowed for the creation of vinyl wrap that could be applied to the outside of a transit vehicle without damaging the paint finish. This durable wrap could stand up to the battering of the elements, and feature whatever graphic design advertisers were willing to pay for. The wrap was quick to apply, and even quicker to remove once the advertising period ended. In the early 1990s, as the TTC scrambled for advertising revenue, commissioners decided to test run the advertising wrap on ten vehicles, selling the advertising space for as much as $100,000 per vehicle to gauge interest from advertisers. The experiment was successful enough, and wrapped buses and streetcars have been plying Toronto’s streets ever since.

This gallery logs the wraps that TTC buses have carried, yesterday and today.

Wrapped Buses Image Archive