Leaders of Sacramento Regional Transit, in search of new revenue, say it’s time to allow alcohol advertisements on the sides of buses and light-rail trains. But they’re drawing the line – for now – on accepting marijuana ads.
The transit agency’s proposed policy would allow more bars and restaurants to advertise on transit vehicles, which could be lucrative for the financially struggling bus agency. RT officials say they would not accept ads that appear to promote or encourage underage drinking. Agency spokeswoman Devra Selenis said a review of transit agencies elsewhere shows that others advertise alcohol.
The RT board will be asked on Monday to vote to remove a policy that prohibits the agency from accepting alcohol ads. Board chair Jay Schenirer, a Sacramento councilman, said he supports the policy change. But board member Andy Morin, a Folsom councilman, said he is uncomfortable with it and wants to hear what community members and riders think first.
“Is this the right thing for a public agency?” Morin asked. “How important is this revenue stream to the quality and quantity of the service we provide? It deserves a discussion.”
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RT does not have a policy on marijuana advertising. But it recently received a request from a company interested in placing an ad, and Selenis said passage of state Proposition 64 legalizing marijuana could prompt more such cannabis ad requests.
For now, RT officials say they plan to decline those proposals, but could rethink that policy later.
The agency does not accept smoking ads. Officials this week said the agency will expand that prohibition to include ads for electronic smoking, commonly called vaping.
The agency also prohibits ads that promote a religion. But officials are talking about amending the rule to allow public service announcements, narrowly defined, that come from or are affiliated with religious groups.
The transit agency has been reviewing its policies as it prepares to sign contracts in the next few weeks with advertising agencies that will market RT’s trains, buses, stations and rail lines to potential advertisers.
That includes possibly selling naming rights for light-rail stations and lines.
A few other transit agencies have similar programs. The Minnesota Vikings reportedly paid $300,000 to put their stadium name on a nearby Metro Transit agency light-rail station. UC San Diego signed a deal worth millions for naming rights to several Metropolitan Transit System stations and a rail line.
There is some precedent in Sacramento. The Township 9 light-rail station on Richards Boulevard was partially paid for by developers of the adjacent Township 9 housing project. The developers said they were willing to invest because they wanted a cool-looking station with their name on it.