Digital billboards like this one in Vancouver could be coming to more locations in Metro Vancouver

Cash-hungry TransLink looks to digital billboards for revenue

Many high-traffic locations offer potential to tap advertising dollars

TransLink may install digital billboards on some of its properties to pull in more cash.

The idea is under consideration by the TransLink board, which was recently briefed on the potential.

Spokesman Ken Hardie said the transportation authority will look at what locations might be suitable for billboards, particularly electronic ones.

“We owe it to everybody to have a good look at it,” he said. “Every dollar we raise that way is a dollar we don’t have to raise from taxes and fares.”

TransLink already raises at least $9 million a year through advertising but aims to pull in even more.

LED billboards have brought big-screen video-style outdoor advertising to select spots in Vancouver and the North Shore.

The City of Surrey has also approved digital billboards for the approaches to some of its bridges.

Hardie stressed the concept is in its early stages and had no details on how much revenue could be earned or where TransLink might install billboards.

“We have many, many locations where there’s high traffic, with many people going by,” he said.

But TransLink could conceivably look at park-and-ride lots, exteriors of SkyTrain stations and even places where overhead rapid transit guideways cross major roads.

Canada Line operators previously sought to install digital billboards outside rapid transit stations in Richmond, but the idea was rejected in 2009 by council, with the mayor calling the displays hazardous to vehicle traffic.

The Richmond proposal involved 10-by-10 foot LED screens at two stations as well as 360-degree digital information kiosks at ground level.

Existing displays in Metro Vancouver include 11-by-22 foot LED billboards outside BC Place Stadium and larger 14-by-48 foot displays installed by the Squamish Nation on reserve land at the approaches to the Burrard and Lions Gate bridges.

Lamar Transit Advertising president Byron Montgomery confirmed he is advising TransLink on the matter but could not comment further.

TransLink also recently added advertising to its monthly transit passes.

Hardie said riders “grumbled a bit” but the ads bring in $84,000 a year, enough to pay for the printing of the passes.

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