With the increasing commercialization of transit vehicles, it was only a matter of time before some riders objected to the advertising message of one of Metro Transit’s buses or light rail cars.
The Star Tribune’s Tim Harlow says a Planned Parenthood ad — encompassing a bus in pink with an image of an IUD and the words, “birth control… it’s what we do” (send us a photo if you see it) — has got some of his readers hot under the collar.
A Metro Transit spokesperson says the ad meets the agency’s standards. Planned Parenthood says the bus ad is educational.
Advertising is a big source of revenue for the state’s largest public transportation system. In 2017, ads promoting everything from cellphones to art exhibits to local professional sport teams brought in $4.3 million. That’s money sorely needed as the Met Council, which operates the system, grapples with a more than $100 million transportation deficit.
Transit advertising has reach, too. More than 290,000 commuters a day board Metro Transit vehicles. And thousands more see ads as buses and trains roll by.
Not every ad cuts the mustard. Metro Transit routinely declines those that don’t meet its standards, [Metro Transit spokesperson Howie] Padilla said. The agency turns down issue-oriented ads, which is why you won’t see ads for political candidates or hot-button topics.
The agency also declines ads for products and services that are illegal or encourage unlawful behavior. A legal product or service featuring a person hitting somebody with a wrench would be disqualified, too,Padilla said.
“I feel something that as a taxpayer service for St. Paul, Minneapolis or anybody who takes a bus ride, they should not be subjected to something where the bus system gets revenue to sell a service such as that,” one of Harlow’s readers said.
Would you let a bus go by to protest an advertiser?
Didn’t think so.