San Francisco supervisors voted Tuesday to approve a contract that would double the number of Muni buses that can have fully-wrapped window ads.
The Board of Supervisors voted 6-5 to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to increase the number of window ad-wrapped buses from 15 to 30. The overall deal with advertising firm Titan Outdoor LLC would guarantee the transit agency $28.5 million over the five-year term of the contract. ‘
SFMTA would at least get $325,000 annually just from the wrapped ads and could earn more depending on the demand.
Opponents who do not want to see more ads on Muni say the window-wrapped ads are unsightly and leave riders with a bad image of Muni.
David Armstrong, a member of San Francisco Beautiful, said earlier this month at a board committee that the ads are distraction for drivers and riders:
“They’re not only ugly inside and out, they are also dangerous. They can distract drivers, confuse new riders, make it more difficult to enter and exit a train when you’re at a busy platform because you can’t see how many are getting off to get out of the way.”
Supervisor Eric Mar, who wanted to keep the number buses at 15, said he despises the ads he feel cheapen The City:
“If were doubling up on a McDonalds wrapped MTA bus around our City, I think it gives us a sense that were a City for sale.”
Despite not being a fan of fully-wrapped ads, Supervisor London Breed said this is money that the transit agency needs after the SFMTA approved several costly policies this year, which some supervisors supported like free Muni for youth and disbanding Sunday parking meter enforcement.
Breed also said there have only been two to seven window wrapped buses at one time so far this calendar year except during the holiday season when the demand is greater.
Board President David Chiu agreed that having a few more wrapped buses is not that big of a deal especially at a time when The City is discussing about transportation measures to fund the transit agency:
“I don’t there’s anyone here who believes that these wraps are aesthetically something any of us support or feel great about. That being said colleagues, money doesn’t grow on trees. Muni is woefully underfunded.”
Supervisors John Avalos, David Campos, Jane Kim and Scott Wiener, joined Mar in voting against the contract.
The contract would also allow the SFMTA to extend its contract with Titan until June 2029. A provision to add digital advertising on buses was not included in the contract.
Jerold serves as a reporter and San Francisco Bureau Chief for SFBay covering transportation, City Hall, and the Mayor's Office in San Francisco. His work on transportation has been recognized by the San Francisco Press Club. Born and raised in San Francisco, he graduated from San Francisco State University with a degree in journalism. Jerold previously wrote for the San Francisco Public Press, a nonprofit, noncommercial news organization. When not reporting, you can find Jerold taking Muni to check out new places to eat in the city.