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MTS’s selective feedback soliciting

February 22, 2010 - 6:29 pm

A few weeks ago, we reported on the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System’s policy of not allowing advertising on newly painted buses. This means a loss of at least $300,000 in revenue this year—enough to fund a bus line—amid cuts to services due to a decline in state transit funds.

In our story, an MTS spokesperson pointed out that another potential revenue source is to sell naming rights for trolley stops. The Union-Tribune wrote about that today, and now MTS is asking readers to share their thoughts on MTS’s Facebook page:

What do you think about naming rights for the stations, bus stops, lines, etc? Good source of revenue? Could it make transit harder to navigate? Weigh in! MTS Board set to discuss issue March 11.

I can’t help by wonder why MTS didn’t ask folks to weigh in on the bus/advertising thing. After all, the board of directors is of the opinion that the ad-free buses have resulted in a boost in ridership, though there have been no studies to support this. San Diego City Councilmember Todd Gloria, the only MTS board member who thinks all buses should be open to ads told us: “People choose to take public transit for many reasons. The lack of advertising on the side of a vehicle is not one of them. People choose transit when it’s timed competitively with other forms of transportation and when the price is right.”

Who’s right? Who knows? Why not solicit feedback on the whole advertising shebang, MTS?

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Megan Burks permalink
    February 23, 2010 - 10:39 am 10:39 am

    I spoke with Rob Schupp from MTS last week for a story, and he said that the main predictor of ridership has been unemployment rates. As people lose jobs, they simply don’t have the money or the need to ride transit. What the buses look like probably doesn’t predict ridership unless it looks like it’s going to fall apart mid-route. Maybe the board of directors is referring to choice ridership? It could make sense that people taking express routes from the suburbs will be more likely to ride if the vehicles and infrastructure are shiny and new.

    Even so, there’s data to show that those express routes take a higher subsidy to run than buses in the inner city, which, according to some of the people I talked to, actually make MTS money. So unless we’re talking about cutting emissions, should choice ridership dictate what the buses look like?

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