bwbuslogoThis week, Blue Water Wave looks at how bus advertising has recently generated controversy in three communities.

About Blue Water Wave…
BWAT general manager Jim Wilson comments on what’s happening in transit in the Blue Water Area, as well as interesting transit-related developments all around the globe. He observes new challenges, solutions, strategies, trends, and perspectives within the transit industry.


Muni Bans Pot Ads

MuniWeed.1120Late last month, San Francisco’s Municipal Transportation Agency banned advertisments promoting cannabis products and services. The new advertising policy bans ads on buses, trains, cable cars, stations and bus stops. The board approved the ban by a 6-0 vote, with one board member absent.

     Mayor Ed Lee pressured the board after the community voiced concern over cannabis ads. A group from the Chinese community even held a demonstration outside the mayor’s home.

     Ads that have already been purchased will remain through the duration of the contract. Muni currently displays 130 cannabis ads from Eaze, Urban Pharm and Green Cross.

     Recreational marijuana becomes legal in California on January 1st. Muni’s ad sales contractors urged them to take advantage of potential advertisers surfacing because of the new law. The contractors predicted  lots of revenue to be gained from selling cannabis ads.

 (Sources:,,, photo courtesy Josef Petrak via Twitter)


Massachusetts Accepts Alcohol Ads

WASHTFor the first time in more than five years, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority will accept advertising about alcohol. The T estimates it could collect an additional $2.5 million from the sales of those ads.

     The transit agency started a test run this month that will end in mid-March next year. The T restricts where the ads can appear. They are not allowed in stations where more than 10 percent of the passengers use student passes. The T does not allow billboard and bus shelter ads to appear near  schools or community centers.

     Alcohol ads will start again in April. Before then, the agency will evaluate the test run and modify the guidelines as needed.

     The T banned alcohol ads in 2012, citing concerns about youth exposure to the ads. Boston mayor Martin J. Walsh, then a state representative, was among those calling for the ban. His current administration has petitioned the T not to reinstate alcohol ads. Mayor Walsh is a recovering alcoholic.



Judge Supports Metro Rejecting Ads

giftJudge Amy Berman Jackson ruled in favor of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority last Friday. Jackson said that Metro’s policies banning religious and issues-oriented ads were reasonable and enforced with fairness.

     Last month, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington filed a federal lawsuit against Metro. The Archdiocese argued that Metro infringed on their First Amendment rights by rejecting an ad for the “Find a Perfect Gift” charitable campaign. The ad depicts silhouettes of three shepherds walking at night beneath a shining North Star.     

     In her ruling. Judge Jackson wrote that “The regulation is reasonably aligned with WMATA’s duty to provide safe, reliable transportation . . . and it does not violate the First Amendment.”



‘Til Later,

Jim Wilson,
BWAT General Manager


About Jim Wilson

Jim Wilson is General Manager at Blue Water Area Transit
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