The STM recently announced its intention to solicit corporate sponsorship for the Métro, something which has never been done before. This is not the same as posting advertisements; the new plan seeks sponsorship of the individual lines, with branding occurring pretty much everywhere, from the ubiquitous, landmark Métro signs to the ticket kiosks to the maps, branding, branding, branding everywhere.
Andy Riga has excellent coverage of this issue, which can be found here: Metropolitan News
I think Michael Fish really nailed it when he asks if the corporatist elements of our society have any shame left. No, clearly they don’t – the STM won’t make more than $155 million over ten years. When you compare that to the billions of dollars per year in the operations budget, you begin to get that queasy feeling the corporate branding will be going to line the pockets of city administrators and STM corporate governance. It certainly won’t speed up the deployment of our new trains, that much is certain.
As you can imagine, both Projet Montréal and Transport2000 have come out against this plan. I for one am also against it – our Métro was conceived as being sponsorship-free, or if you’d prefer, people-power is the sponsorship. Frankly it’s bad enough we have to contend with television, advertisements, scrolling-advertisements and the variety of people actually handing things over to you, do we really need to ‘ride the Bell line to switch at Monsanto Station?’ Moreover, do we really want the pride of Montréal’s public-transit network sponsored by, say, General Motors Corporation?
Enough is enough – if the STM really wants to increase overall revenue, they should stick with the original plan, that is – to gradually extend the Métro to cover the entire metropolitan region. Doing so would allow the STM to collect revenue from more than 3 million people, as opposed to half that number currently.
The system was designed to put art and architecture to the forefront, but gradually, we’ve let the STM remove artwork and alter the design of the stations without adequately consulting the artistic community which designed the stations in the first place. Initially the system was designed to act as a new kind of public art gallery, in which each station could be experienced for its own artistic merit. What happened to that?
Think about the lost artwork the next time you’re in McGill Métro station, where the stained glass mural has big gaping holes which never get fixed, yet the rest of the station can be covered in advertisements overnight.
I strongly encourage my fellow Montréalers to resist this invasion and manipulation of public space. I for one will deface any corporate sponsorship I see. Let’s see how much of that $15.5 million per annum they can save when they have to contend with rider dis-satisfaction and a population hell-bent on vandalizing corporate sponsorship.