Wrapping Muni buses in ads leads to a fight at City Hall 

Vertigo, urban blight, feeling packed in like sardines, those are some complaints heard from riders when they are in a Muni bus wrapped in an ad.

But the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which operates Muni, is cash-strapped and has proposed wrapping buses in ads to generate $500,000.

In a narrow 6-5 vote, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved a plan that would allow 15 out of Muni's fleet of  1,200 buses to have wraps at any one time.

“We want more people to ride. I don’t think it’s a good thing for us to create that kind of experience for them,” Supervisor David Campos said.

Campos opposed the plan along with Supervisors John Avalos, Ross Mirkarimi, Eric Mar and Scott Wiener.

The agency’s Chief Financial Officer Sonali Bose said the proposal comes down to trade-offs.

“It could be we don’t have the bus if we don’t have this money. If it’s a question of not having service cuts or fare reductions versus having a wrapped window I think almost everybody would prefer having a wrapped window,” Bose.

Supervisor Sean Elsbernd went further to say he would support even more buses wrapped in ads.

“For me, I’m willing to wrap more buses. As a rider what I am willing to do deal with? An obstructed or having to walk 10 more blocks because the service is cut? Or do I want to pay three bucks for that one way ride?”

The agency said it will test out the ads for one year and then determine if it should continue the program based on rider feedback.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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