Chapel Hill bus ads cater to big business to generate revenue

By Sam Schanfarber

The formerly Carolina blue buses will soon be covered with revenue-generating ads.

If you’ve seen the State Farm bus, you’ve seen the new source of revenue for Chapel Hill Transit.

While the Chapel Hill Transit has always offered local businesses the opportunity to run ads on the sides of its buses, a recent change offers a “Full Wrap” option, which allows for the entirety of the vehicle to be covered in advertising material. At the cost of $1500 per month at a maximum of 12 months, it’s obvious that the service will apply only to companies with deep pockets.

The change comes after the city Transportation department announced that it would be shaving an approximated $2.3 million from its annual budget of $17 million. It comes as part of a package that also alters a multitude of routes in order to save gas. And while the prior plan ended up costing the city much more money than it profited, the new advertising opportunities are projected to generate up to $400,000.
The decision was voted on by the town councils of both Chapel Hill and neighboring Carrboro, where full-wrap advertisements are also expected to run on buses. The council’s choice was far from unanimous, however; many felt that the ads will strip the aesthetic appeal of the buses, as the former “Carolina Blue” colors must be sacrificed in order to accommodate the needs of the advertisers. For those that still disagree with the decision, you’ll have to wait until 2012 to make valid complaints—the Chapel Hill Transit’s budget won’t be up for discussion for at least another six months.

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