Putting the wraps on Valley Metro trains | Valley Metro

Valley Metro trains can be like billboards on steel wheels when they are wrapped with advertising or public service announcements. I was curious to know how they get that way from start to finish, so I did a bit of investigating on how it happens. 

It starts with the media outdoor advertising company, OUTFRONT Media. They have the contract to sell ad space on the interiors and exteriors of trains.  

The clients range from local to international businesses.  

Once OUTFRONT sells an advertising wrap to a client, they will send the client a template of a train so that the artwork can be created to properly fit the train. The approved artwork is sent to BP Graphics, which is just one of the firms that create and install the wraps.  

BP Graphics Senior Account Manager, Kevin Murphy, said the advertising images are printed on blank vinyl with adhesive backing. Afterward, the images are cut into panels. Think of giant puzzle pieces being systematically applied to train exteriors. 

Each ad panel is laid out before it’s applied. Crews check the wrap panels to ensure correct dimensions.  

Putting the wraps on Valley Metro trains
Printing out a wrap advertisement for light rail

Advertising wraps can be applied in five business days with about four hours for installation from start to finish. 

“The wraps you see may be up for a couple of weeks to an entire year, depending on the advertising campaign,” Murphy said. 

The wraps are also laminated to protect against the elements and frequent light rail washing.  

Putting the wraps on Valley Metro trains
Crews applying advertising wraps

Murphy said there is another benefit. Wraps protect the paint on a train from the harsh summers. 

BP Graphics sets up a time with Valley Metro to remove an ad wrap from a train or bus when the advertising campaign ends.  “Crews start on one end and then begin pulling the wrap off from trains one by one.” The wraps are then discarded. 

Another major benefit of the wraps is that the advertising revenues offset the cost of operation. Operations of the trains are paid for by the cities where they operate. The revenues from advertising totaled $1.2M in the fiscal year 2020. 

Putting the wraps on Valley Metro trains
Crews putting the finishing touches on an advertising wrap

So, the next time you see a light-rail train rolling by with advertising, you’ll know how it got that way.  

And that’s a wrap. 

Mark Carlson
Mark Carlson
Rail Operations Communications Specialist
Mark Carlson is an Operations Communications Specialist with Valley Metro. He brings 40 years of newsroom experience to his position including working as a newsroom supervisor for 23 years with The Associated Press in Washington, D.C., and Phoenix. In addition to serving as a writer, editor, anchor, and reporter for radio stations in Phoenix and Los Angeles, he also worked as a television assignment editor and digital news writer and editor in Phoenix and Baltimore. A Phoenix native, Mark attended Maryvale High.