Muni bans political ads on buses, shelters

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency will no longer accept ads that depict a political or harmful message on its Muni buses and transit shelters starting on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the SFMTA Board of Directors approved amendments to its advertising policy that would prohibit ads from appearing on Muni buses and transit shelters that concern a political or public issue, contain profanity and violent descriptions or images, according to a SFMTA staff report.

Transit officials say the controversial ads on Muni buses, such as the anti-Islam ads in 2012 and 2013, received a number of complaints from passengers and from operators. The SFMTA had donated the revenue from those ads to the San Francisco Human Rights Commission.

Gail Stein with the SFMTA Finance and Technology department, said the controversial ads that the transit agency had posted in the past have been a distraction in running Muni:

“These ads have generated complaints from our customers and our operators and have distracted our ability to run the transit system.”

Stein added that other major transit agencies have made similar changes to their ad policy as well.

Commercial advertising will still be allowed, said Stein.

The SFMTA currently has contracts with Clear Channel Outdoor for the transit shelters and Intersection for Muni vehicles. Both companies must comply with the new changes, according to the staff report.