Window-covering ad deal approved for Muni vehicles 

A small but noticeable group of Muni’s bus and rail fleet will soon be plastered with advertising that covers the vehicles’ windows.

Under a measure that’s projected to generate around $500,000 a year in extra revenue, up to 5 percent of Muni’s buses and 10 percent of light-rail vehicles can have their windows wrapped in advertising, after the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency board of directors approved the proposal Tuesday.

The SFMTA, which operates Muni, already had a contract with advertising firm Titan to wrap up to 20 percent of the agency’s fleet in ads, but the document indicated that windows would be off limits.

Increasing ad coverage to include windows could bring in an additional $500,000 for the SFMTA, which at one time faced a budget deficit of $56.4 million for next fiscal year.

Board member Cameron Beach has repeatedly expressed concerns about wrapping bus windows with advertising, saying the coverage is gaudy and increases the possibility of traffic accidents because it lowers interior visibility.

However, staff members at the SFMTA said the advertising could be tastefully done and wouldn’t undermine safety and security efforts on the transit fleet.

Beach’s colleagues on the board agreed with the staff assessment, as the rest of five-member body (two spots on the board are vacant) approved the new advertising contract Tuesday.

SFMTA Chief Financial Officer Sonali Bose said even though the agency approved the new contract, it doesn’t necessarily mean the 5 percent and 10 percent benchmarks will be met. Bose said it’s unlikely that Titan will max out the thresholds.

The new contract will only last two years, and the SFMTA is free to remove the advertising on its windows at any time, be it for safety reasons, unexpected revenue increases or passenger complaints.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

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