Bus TV

I always thought the one thing missing from the whole experience of traveling by bus was the opportunity to watch mind-numbingly dull commercials on TV. Simply enduring repeated umbrella blows to the thorax from combative old ladies is not enough these days. As if by a miracle my fantasies have been fulfilled by the advent of Bus TV. Apparently this miracle occurred some time ago but I haven’t been on a bus for a while, or at least sober on a bus for a while, so the revelation has been late in coming to Polandian.


This kind of thing

Bus TV, in case you’re finding the name confusing, is TV on a bus. I don’t mean in the sense of those people who try to carry 72-inch plasma screens home on the bus because they’re too cheap to pay for delivery, I mean actual TV you can watch on an actual screen actually on the bus. If anybody had told me when I was ten that in the future I would be able to watch TV on the bus I probably would have gawped stupidly at them so fantastically exciting would the idea have seemed. Like most things in the future it turns out not to be that great.

First of all there aren’t any programs. Even Polsat has the decency to show the occasional five-minute snippet of programming between its advertising marathons, but not on Bus TV. It’s just adverts. At the meeting where Bus TV was invented the following conversation almost certainly took place:

Evil ad exec: How about putting TVs on buses and running adverts on them.

Naive young ad exec: Ooh cool, we could show them between screenings of classic Simpsons episodes!

EAE: No, just adverts.

NYAE: Won’t people get bored and change the channel?

EAE: They’re on a bus, there are no channels.

NYAE: Okay, but won’t they just stop watching?

EAE: It’s a bus. People hate sitting on buses because they’re forced to make eye contact with strangers they don’t like the look of. Put something with bright moving colours in there and every eye will gratefully embrace it.

NYAE: But won’t they eventually realize they’re being manipulated and grow to hate us?

EAE: Mwahahahahaha…!

The second problem with Bus TV is that there are only five adverts in a continuous loop. After approximately two and a half minutes you’ve watching the same ad again. Even in a country where posters covering entire multi-storey buildings count as classy advertising this is a trifle infuriating. At least on Polsat you’re unlikely to see the same ad for ultra-soft flu tablets lovingly cooked by grandmothers more than twice in the same session. During a 35-minute close watching of Bus TV I saw the same five adverts approximately 9 billion times.


Average Bus TV fare

The third and not most insignificant problem with Bus TV is the depressing nature of the ads. I’ve become acclimatized to the mainstream world of Polish TV advertising in which all men are inept (or sick), all children are adorable (or sick and adorable), and all women stand in sunlight doorways fondling vitamins or soup packets. Not so on Bus TV. The first feature was an unpleasant public service announcement about the dangers of smoking featuring lots of close-ups of cancerous lips, the second was some kind of cartoon about electricians being electrocuted in bathrooms, and the third was a bizarre and inexplicable drama about babies crawling around on grass littered with dog feces. Somewhere in there was an invitation to visit the opera that did little to lift the mood. By the time I got off the bus I felt like I’d just attended an all-night showing of the world’s most disturbing cinema.

I took a close look at the Bus TV website and discovered that it costs just 120 zl to place a 30-second advert in one bus for one month. The next time I plan to catch a bus I’m going to phone up the day before and buy myself 500 zeds worth of Simpsons highlights on infinite loop.

Tagged , , , , ,

28 thoughts on “Bus TV

  1. Malcolm says:

    I’d love to see this ad on busses

    Poles aren’t the only ones who disturb their citizens. In New Zealand they have somehow combined Christmas with Halloween with a Zombie Santa

  2. Beata says:

    Looped TV or not, I am impressed with your modern bus system! Here in the TriCities, more often than not, you’ll see Fred Flintstone pushing a bus from behind…

    And speaking of alternative power, here’s an interesting idea:

    I can only imagine your post on that subject ;-)

  3. Scatts says:

    I grew to love such TV while using the Heathrow Express train service. A journey of perhaps 15 minutes and yet deserving of a full TV service, quiet zones, First Class cabins………

    Quite ridiculous.

  4. kasiamaria says:

    We don’t have the bus TV in Poznań. It’s so good, to be behind in that kind of innovations.

    Nice, short post. It puts a smile on my face after long, hard Monday. Thanks.

  5. Malaysian says:

    Haha! We’ve got Bus TV in Kuala Lumpur buses too. Fortunately, the adverts run alongside locally-produced animations with characters that don’t have any dialogue (like Mr. Bean).

    They’re pretty light and humorous. The ads usually consist of the daily household products like soap, toohpaste, various detergents, etc etc.

    And recently, they’ve also started to air some programs you can find in free-to-air stations. I think they’re working on getting more free contents from everywhere – conventional TV stations, self-produced contents by individual/group.

    The thing with Bus TV here is that, the TV is not connected to the bus speakers system, and hence is hardly audible if you’re not really watching it. Besides, people can always opt to do some their own stuffs – like listening to their mp3s, taking a short nap, talking to your friends, or generally doing nothing at all.

  6. island1 says:

    My favorite quote from this story: “He hopes that thanks to the campaign, pedestrians will be more careful and will not place an absolute trust in drivers.” Erm… I trust Polish drivers about as far as I could spit out an SUV, are there really any pedestrians with “absolute trust” in these lunatics. I like the implication that it’s the pedestrians’ fault: “But he was just too trusting officer, I had no choice but to run him down.”

  7. island1 says:

    The bus and tram system here is extremely good and they’re putting a lot of money into making it even better. Unfortunately there’s nothing remotely funny about that.

  8. island1 says:

    Bus TV comes to us all in the end, even in Poznan.

  9. island1 says:

    That would be great. Why can’t they just put the week’s best YouTube videos up there or short films made by students or something.

    I should have mentioned, our Bus TV is completely silent.

  10. tee says:

    Oh, thanks a lot for calling me a lunatic :\
    As a matter of fact I’m that kind of lunatic that drives around Krakow a lot.
    So beware… XD

  11. kasiamaria says:

    Well, then I hope no one would think about Tram TV or something.

  12. Scatts says:

    Maybe it’s sulking?

  13. Pioro-Boncza says:

    Sorry Tee but Island is right – Poles are complete lunatics on the road and by far the worst drivers in Europe (actually 2nd worst – Lithuania has highest road death fatalities). It’s not just my opinion its a statistical fact! So slow down buddy, you will get to your destination soon enough.

  14. boattown_guest says:

    TV M (not MTV) here as well. In our super-modern-trams: PESAs. It’s very useful- you can get to know which day of the year it is today, who you should visit today (Nameday), and some curiosities (news). It’s silent as well.
    Ads: mostly schools (Wyższa Szkoła Tego i Tamtego Też) and recruitment agencies.
    And the font is nicer there… sorry Island1, I know that I’m a heartbreaker, but I really really hate it:) I have to put on my glasses to read your posts and someone could enter my room and see me wearing them!;)

  15. island1 says:

    I have a horrible feeling it already exists.

  16. island1 says:


  17. island1 says:

    Yeah, I think our buses and trams have the nameday information as well; it’s probably saved more than one guys arse.

    I’m going to spend some time this weekend fiddling with the design, I’ll see what I can do about the typesize / spacing etc.

  18. tee says:

    Ha, you see? Why do you say to me to slow down? How do you know how I drive, huh? Putting all drivers in one bag is simply injust.

    You may say that generally Poles are not the best drivers OR that statistically there are a lot more road collissions or fataliuties (how detailed this statistics is? Does it counts everything to it – including overconfident pedestrians or damage on the road that may have been a main factor of the accident???) then somewhere else, but not that ALL drivers are lunatics.

    I already have to suffer sometimes for being a woman driver, because it’s easiest to blame every stupid situation on the road on me or other girls. I don’t have to listen that I’m also a lunatic, no matter how polite I am or how slowly I drive.

  19. Malcolm says:

    Island1 is right. I do exactly the same. I assume that all Polish drivers are absolute lunatics. In Britain I assume that all drivers are incompetent.

    But it’s the only way that I’ve been able to keep my family safe. It’s called defensive driving.

    Whether they are or not is anyone’s guess (I must admit that the driving style of the average Pole has greatly improved over the past five years now that more people have expensive cars that they actually care about).
    (In truth the country with the highest per capita road deaths is Germany)

    PS. Some people get offended far too easily

  20. island1 says:

    How does it look now?

  21. tee says:

    Some people are offended far to often.

    I do not assume that all people I encounter on the road are lunatics – I simply have my eyes open on everything all the time – for everything.

    And I mean for everything – last year THREE birds have accidentally hit my front window. I also had a close encounter with a deer and it ended up perfectly safe only because I was aware of my environment.
    All those events would scare me and probably cause an accident if I wasn’t expecting the unexpected all the time. That’s the secred of being safe on the road, either as a driver OR a pedestrian.

  22. A propos of ads on the TV, have you noticed how infuriatingly often Polish TV ads feature whistling? Whether its for banks, yogurt, rheumatism cures or monosodium glutamate, there’s always that annoying jaunty tune being WHISTLED in the background.

  23. boattown_guest says:

    Island1: Is there a difference?

  24. island1 says:

    Now you’re just trying to annoy me :)

    The typeface is now exactly the same as it used to be in the old design, and the same as the typeface on Scatts’ blog. Try reloading the page a few times if you really can’t see any difference, maybe your browser has just cached the Polandian style sheet and isn’t loading the new one.

    Otherwise you may just have to accept the fact that you’re blind as a bat.

  25. island1 says:

    I hadn’t, I’ll look out for it—then I’ll be able to find it just as infuriating as you do… curse you!

  26. boattown_guest says:

    Island1 najlepszym naszym przyjacielem jest! There was no difference on Friday, believe me. And now, it looks just perfect.
    You’re the best ov the best!

    I wish I was a bat. Or I wish I was Batwoman. That’d be great.
    I can imagine R. Kelly singing: Boattown Cityyy, oh yeah…:)

  27. Malaysian says:

    That’s a good suggestion. But I guess it’s not attractive to put stuffs you can get from the internet on air. Online contents are highly individualistic and uncensored. Besides the legality issues, I guess most of the week’s best video on youtube might not interest Malaysia’s general population (not everybody uses the internet, even if they do they might not use it for video streaming considering out horrible broadband speed here).

  28. Sylwia says:

    Great post! Why don’t you guys write such funny posts any longer?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s