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Stumptown Stumper

by: TIM JEWETT, TriMet and Lamar Transit Advertising use giant stickers or “wraps” to put messages on buses and trains.

Every Friday in Stumptown Stumper, the Portland Tribune offers a trivia question and answer that helps you boost your Rose City IQ.

Q: Exactly how do the sides of TriMet buses and MAX trains get decorated with those huge advertisements?

A: Those larger-than-life ads that you see on buses and trains are not painted by hand - that would take quite a while. They're designed digitally and printed onto adhesive vinyl, like a giant bumper sticker, explains Brad Kleiner, general manager and vice president of Lamar Transit Advertising, the company that contracts with TriMet for the service.

The so-called 'wraps' are installed on the side or back of a vehicle after it's been cleaned and prepped. They usually stay for about a year, then get peeled off and recycled, leaving the bus in perfect condition, Kleiner said.

They're also durable: With their UV clearcoat, they can withstand the sun, rain and daily washes by TriMet, as well as other hazards of the road.

Kleiner explains that the wraps aren't allowed to cover more than 10 percent of the window space on buses or trains, and those bits are see-through with a technology called contravision, to preserve riders' views.

Some of the ads have a special twist: TriMet will debut 22 buses this week done up in Tropicana ads with electroluminescent technology, which will make the designs glow in the dark, Kleiner said.

TriMet also has two buses in its fleet that were hand-painted, lovingly, years ago. A zoo bus, depicting animals, was created in the late 1980s, and a cultural bus, with a mural by local artist Henk Pander and his sons, was created in 1995 as a partnership of several organizations.

Since the buses are still in circulation, TriMet workers keep the paint colors on hand and touch up the art as it becomes dented or chipped, says special projects coordinator Rhonda Danielson.

'It was a choice to have local artists hand-paint this bus,' Danielson said, even though the digital technology was available at the time. 'It was quite unique.'

Next week's Stumper: Which early-20th-century Oregon senator was convicted of land fraud but died in the dentist's chair before he could be sent to jail?

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