Advertising will appear on city buses for the first time beginning next month.
The City Council last week approved a plan to allow businesses to run free ads on bus interiors in exchange for services such as selling monthly transit passes.
Transportation officials hope that the program will add to Santa Clarita’s already surging ridership by making monthly passes more readily available and further publicizing bus routes. Other than purchasing bus passes by mail, residents now can buy them at only two sites--City Hall or the city services field office--both in Valencia.
“We need to have bus pass outlets throughout the city (open) on nights and weekends,” said Ron Kilcoyne, Santa Clarita’s transportation coordinator. “Right now, it’s just too difficult.”
Santa Clarita bus ridership more than doubled from 116,908 during the first quarter of 1992 to 238,842 in the first quarter of this year. The jump represents the highest first-quarter growth rate among the 265 systems nationwide documented by the American Public Transit Assn.
Advertising inside the buses was approved despite concerns by Mayor Jan Heidt that it will encourage vandalism.
“I think it invites graffiti,” Heidt said. “I think when the buses are sparkling clean, people have more respect for them.”
Ads still won’t be allowed on bus exteriors.
Accepting in-kind services means bypassing more than $31,000 that Santa Clarita could earn each year from selling interior ads.
The going rate to post the 11-by-36-inch placards in local buses is $260 per month, Kilcoyne said. Santa Clarita has 18 local transit buses with 13 on the street at one time.
“We’re looking at doing this to enhance our marketing program, not making money,” Kilcoyne said. The placards will begin appearing in city buses in October.
“This is a program where we’ll be negotiating with each potential user. We would have the final control in that sense,” Kilcoyne said.
California Federal Bank will be the first business to participate in the program. In addition to selling the passes, the company plans to buy monthly passes to give to senior citizens who open new accounts.
“We wanted to have a chance to give our bank services to seniors,” said Lisa Florie, Newhall branch manager.
Florie suggested the bus ads to the city in March. She estimates that the bank will buy at least 10 passes per month.
Santa Clarita is scheduled to review the program in six months.