Last week on a rainy day, I boarded a bus from Guelph central station. 

This particular bus was covered on one side with an advertisement which looked solid from the outside, but which was actually made of a mesh that (theoretically) would not block the passenger’s view from the inside.

I have often wondered what kind of logic is behind these ads. Aren’t windows supposed to be clear, so we can see where we are going?

Inside of ad-covered bus.

Try covering the windows in your automobile with material like this and let me know how many blocks you get before being stopped by police for having “obstructed windows”.  

One can easily argue that I could look across the bus and see out the other window, but that doesn’t work when there are people standing in front of me, or when I can’t clearly see that far. 

Because my vision is limited in range, and in how my brain interprets what I see, my visual landmarks are incredibly abstract, and there is no way I could describe them to anyone who does not have my vision. 

I once explained this to my husband by putting the TV on pause, taking a blank piece of paper and some coloured pencils, and sketching exactly what I saw, at that distance. He complimented me on my ability to create abstract art. 

Fortunately, the consistency of the objects out the window allows me to fill in what I can’t see, especially if I’ve been there on foot, and have seen it close up. The fact that we are moving makes these abstract images even more abstract.

Is this too much?

I may be able to see a McDonalds logo at 50 feet, but had I not seen millions of those during my 37 years, that visual memory would not exist. The closer something is, the easier it is to interpret. The more often I see it, the easier it is to create a visual landmark in my brain.

Those dang bus ads force myself and others to look through a very fine net, and this hinders our vision. If you would not put it in front of the driver’s eyes, please don’t inflict it upon the passengers. We may not be driving the bus, but we still need to know where we are.

Also, I am not the most visually impaired rider of Guelph transit! There are many who are more challenged than I am, when it comes to their vision. For some a clear window would do no good, but for many, the removal of unnecessary visual obstacles will make at least a small improvement.

Are ads on buses more important than our ability to see where we are going?


  1. While I agree that those “mesh” ads on the side of the bus make looking out the window a pain, there are other ways to know where you are (and these are required by law!) such as the automatic announced stops, and the digital sign. Even kindly asking the driver for them to remind you of your stop is encouraged. So, while I empathize with the writer, these ads aren’t going anywhere anytime soon because there are plenty of other methods for knowing where the next stop is.


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