Home Asides From Austin, another go at transit naming rights

From Austin, another go at transit naming rights

by Benjamin Kabak

Over the past few months, as transit agencies have tried to eke dollars out of everything under the sun, I’ve become fascinated by the drive to secure naming rights deals. Some transit executives speak of these as the Holy Grail of alternate revenue streams while others, including the MTA’s own Jay Walder, are wary of overstating their impact. Today’s story comes out of Austin where the Capital Metro board is looking to sell system naming rights.

For the last few years, Cap Metro has seen its revenue streams dry up. It’s in the transit-unfriendly state of Texas and has had to slash service to keep itself afloat. Now its CEO and President thinks she knows the answer. “The reason to do it is revenue for the system,” Lisa Watson said. “You can have a multiyear revenue stream. It can help you plug holes in budget gaps. That’s what a lot of systems across the country are doing instead of cutting service. They’re doing naming rights to cover their operating funds. If we were to do this with our commuter rail line, we could possibly use revenue to cover the subsidy for the system.”

Of course, talk is cheap, and naming rights deals aren’t. As I wrote just two weeks ago, while transit agencies around the nation have tried to find corporate partners and sponsorships, the money just isn’t there. Transit agencies talk about selling the names of their properties, but deals are few and far between. When I have a bit more time, I hope to explore the economics of this fascinating area a bit more, but for now, we can keep an eye on Austin as we are Boston to see which, if any, transit agency can sell these rights for any appreciable amount of money.

You may also like


Jonathan R February 10, 2011 - 2:24 pm

Ben, having read several of your posts, I agree that making money selling naming rights to transit systems is a mirage. From the article, committee chair John Langmore thinks that naming rights will “add value.” On what planet does he live? To add value to a transit system would, in my opinion, imply adding service, adding stops, adding buses with more doors, speeding up service, things of that nature. Just painting the buses with the Dell Children’s Hospital logo doesn’t add any value to the rider.

Anon February 10, 2011 - 2:45 pm

Off Topic: (I suppose “Austin” Is Off Topic):
Stag Night is about to be released

I think most will be amused by the trailer.

Warning: Scenes of Graphic Violence

John-2 February 10, 2011 - 3:23 pm

One of the naming rights problems Austin is going to have is that the route of it’s new light rail system, running from downtown north to Leander, manages to bypass most of the areas were the area’s corporations have their offices until it does a right turn into the south end of the downtown business district. Hard to get station naming rights when there aren’t any big pocket firms around the stations to hit up, and just like most everyplace else, the cachet for bus and bus transit hub naming rights just isn’t going to be there.

What’s In a Name? MBTA Sells Out Boston In Its Naming Rights Plan « Transit on the Line December 25, 2011 - 10:11 pm

[…] attempts to close the funding gap. About a year ago, Boston joined New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Austin, Toronto, and New Jersey in the growing list of North American transit agencies trying desperately […]

An MTA policy – but no deals – for subway station naming rights :: Second Ave. Sagas July 21, 2013 - 11:18 pm

[…] for just €1 million a year while Boston has unsuccessfully put its station names up for sale. Austin, Toronto, New Jersey, D.C. and Chicago all want someone to pay for their stations, but very few […]


Leave a Comment