In an effort to increase local funding for transit operations, TAPS Public Transit is considering possible exterior advertising for its bus fleet. The topic was discussed briefly Monday during a meeting of the TAPS Board of Directors in an item related to the proposed rates, though no action was taken.
TAPS staff will now look at drafting protocol and procedures to bring the item back before the board for approval.
“I think this is a positive way for us to be proactive in raising local revenue so we can continue to increase local transit service,” Transdev General Manager Josh Walker said.
Walker said the transit agency previously used advertising on the sides of its buses when it was a larger organization as a way to earn additional revenue. With a recent focus on increasing its local match funding, Walker said he wanted to renew the practice.
The proposed rates for the advertising range from $100 to $500 per month per vehicle based on the size, location and length of time the advertisement runs. Walker said he determined this rate based on a survey of transit organizations of similar size. This does not include the cost for installation and purchase of the vinyl signage, he said.
Leading into the proposal, Walker said he experimented with advertising in Wise County with a local non-profit. Throughout the test run, Walker said people and groups expressed interest in other advertising campaigns.
“Everybody that sees that thing loves it,” Walker said, regarding the advertising.
Walker confirmed that this advertising revenue would count as local match funding that is used to help calculate the federal and state funding the organization receives each year. As this is calculated separately between rural and urban transit, Walker said each ad would contribute to separate funding based on the advertiser’s location and where the advertisement ran.
As an example, as the test ad ran in rural Wise County, revenue from it was considered rural funding with regard to local match, Walker said.
In the early phases, Walker said he has mostly been receiving phone calls from national and regional groups, but said he hopes to include local businesses and organizations as well.
“I would hope that there would be a fair amount of local companies and entities that would come forward,” Walker said.
Grayson County Judge Bill Magers, who serves as the vice chair of the board, asked whether there had been any set standards or procedures for what can and will not be allowed to be used. Walker said he did not, and would need to do additional research.
Katrina Heineking, southwest regional vice president for Transdev, said one of the more notable advertisements that has been proposed for a Transdev-affiliated bus was for a plumbing company, that had toilets positions alongside each window of the bus. With that in mind, Heineking said Transdev has experience with advertising and has protocols and standards that can be used as a guideline for TAPS.
Following the brief discussion, Walker said he would continue research on the protocols and plans to bring a proposal before the board at a future meeting.