TransLink says it's currently not possible to sell SkyTrain station naming rights

Apr 30 2019, 6:14 am

Calgary’s public transit system is currently in the process of exploring the feasibility of selling naming rights to its LRT stations, bus terminals, and other transit property.

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The whole idea with the potential initiative by the City of Calgary, which owns and operates the public transit system, is all about generating a new non-fare revenue source.

“It’s still very early in the process to determine how much revenue it could generate,” Stephen Tauro, a spokesperson for Calgary Transit, told Daily Hive. “Generating non-fare revenue will help offset the costs associated with operating a transit system.”

But could such a program be also considered for TransLink’s public transit system in Metro Vancouver? Could transit riders be ushered into SkyTrain stations with names such as “Lululemon Main Street-Science World Station” and “TD Bank Vancouver City Centre Station?”

In response to this pondering, TransLink said this is not possible — at least not right now.

“It’s an apples and oranges comparison with Calgary Transit,” said TransLink spokesperson Lida Paslar.

“We don’t own the property rights like Calgary does. Ours is shared with our government partners, so it won’t be as simple as us being able to do that. We just don’t have a policy for it right now and that’s something we’re looking at.”

For instance, the Canada Line’s Olympic Village Station and Broadway-City Hall Station are both located on properties owned by the City of Vancouver.

Moreover, SkyTrain is the property of the provincial government, which allocates TransLink with the responsibility to operate and maintain the rail network.

In the case of Waterfront Station, much of the transit hub’s footprint is located within Cadillac Fairview’s property.

Naming rights deals are most often associated with stadiums; the provincial government recently granted BC Place Stadium’s operators with the permission to pursue a corporate naming rights deal.

Such a practice has only been considered by a handful of public transit systems in the United States, particularly cash-strapped agencies.

New York State approved an “adopt-a-station” naming rights program for New York City’s decaying MTA in July 2017, but to date no company has taken the offer to have their name associated with a subway station.

Earlier that same year, the Los Angeles Metro overturned a two-month-old decision to sell naming rights to its subway stations, bus stops, and other transit properties over legal concerns that a company’s business practices or political affiliation could expose the public transit authority to lawsuits.

In the past, the Las Vegas Monorail has been closely associated with corporate sponsors, with branding rights for some stations and trains sold to companies such as Monster Energy and Sprint, for instance.

The recently opened Transbay Transit Center, a US$2.2-billion transit hub with rooftop park in downtown San Francisco, had its naming rights sold to Salesforce over a 25-year-long deal that would have the company pay a total of US$110 million. The transit hub has a footbridge that connects the structure with the new Salesforce office tower.

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