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Advertising on transit vehicles and facilities can produce new or increased local revenues from non-standard sources. Many agencies are re-evaluating advertising as a potential revenue source to fill funding gaps. Advertising on transit facilities and vehicles creates nearly $1 billion per year in sales, with roughly half of this amount going to transit agencies. However, in 2007 only 0.3% of U.S. advertising dollars went to transit [1]. Transit agencies and operators seeking increased revenues from advertising can usually find ways to do so, as a survey adverting planners accustomed to working with traditional channels identified a range of options to improve transit advertising.[1]

Key Considerations

Advertising on a Los Angeles Metro bus

Need to Restructure

While there are a number of measures an advertising sales department can implement on their own, TCRP Report 133 makes several suggestions that require buy-in or actions from upper management, including restructuring the entire department or contracting out the function.[1]

Advertising Policy

Government-run transit agencies must consider how the first amendment affects their ability to approve or deny advertisements based on content alone. Generally, transit agencies will need well-defined standards and a system in pace to determine compliance with those standards. Have your inside or outside council review this 2010 TCRP Legal Research Digest on developing and implementing a transit advertising policy.


Additional Reading

Alpers, Jane. "TCRP Report 133: Practical Measures to Increase Transit Advertising Revenues." 2009.

This 107-page report is a great starting point for consultants, department heads, and agency management considering restructuring an agencies advertising sales operations in order to maximize revenue.

Transit Cooperative Research Program. "TCRP Legal Research Digest 13: Developing and Implementing a Transit Advertising Policy." 2010.

If your agency's legal council is not already familiar with laws and cases related to advertising on property owned or managed by your agency, they should review this document.

Transit Cooperative Research Program. "TCRP Synthesis 51: Transit Advertising Sales Agreements." 2004.

This 110-page report contains specific guidance on how your advertising sales department can structure agreements and consider how to balance revenue generating advertisements with public service advertisements.