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IT'S A WRAP Full bus ads help agencies with revenues



Published: Tue, January 18, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



DAYTON (AP) -- When it passes pedestrians on the street, they might experience hunger pangs. That's because the city bus is plastered from nose to tail with a Mexican restaurant advertisement.

Bus systems are increasing their use of bus wrap advertisements as they are squeezed financially by government subsidy cuts and falling tax income. Other transit systems are considering covering their buses with the advertisements for the first time, and even school districts are starting to turn their buses into moving billboards.

The Greater Dayton Regional Transit has been increasing the number of buses with vinyl sheets adhered to almost every surface, advertising everything from food to cable television.

Twelve buses have the advertisements now, and the transit system would like to have up to 20 in its 283-bus fleet, Dayton RTA spokesman Anthony Whitmire said.

"It's revenue," Whitmire said. "You've got to have some of these little things like this to try to balance when you may not have enough."

Local bus wrap

The Western Reserve Transit Authority also runs busses with wraps. The local transit agency's bus number 2008 currently sports a buff-colored Home Savings advertisement on its rounds in the area.

Rita Potts, director of marketing for the Cincinnati Regional Transit Authority, said the agency plans to increase its wrapped buses from two to up to 15 because money from the earnings tax that funds it is down.

"We are in such need of revenue right now," Potts said.

The Central Ohio Transit Authority charges advertisers $1,000 a month for each of its 15 wrapped buses in its fleet of 250.

"We're hoping to expand the program. It's a revenue maker," said spokesman John Palmer.

Ads on Wheels, which designs, prints and installs vehicle wraps, has been doubling its revenue annually, said Chris Dyson, spokesman for the Manchester, N.H., company.

"The medium has definitely been growing," he said.

Scott Segen, CEO of the Philadelphia-based Burton Imaging Group, a major producer of bus wraps and other outdoor advertising, said his company's sales were up 40 percent last year and that he has supplied bus wraps to the 10 largest U.S. cities, including New York.

Stephen Freitas, spokesman for Outdoor Advertising Association of America, said cities have shown increased interest in wraps as an easy revenue source because businesses like to promote on buses since they go into areas not served by outdoor billboards.

"They're running 22 to 23 hours a day, and they're running all over the county," Whitmire said.

School bus wrappings

Boston city schools plan to begin using wraps on its buses later this year.

The schools are negotiating a deal with BlueCross BlueShield that will put wraps on 12 of 600 buses and generate about $60,000 for the school district, schools spokesman Jonathan Palumbo said.

Charleston, S.C., has never had bus wraps, but may start using them as part of a new look.

"We want it to be jazzy. We want it to be something that people want to ride. And we will be looking at wraps," said Howard Chapman, executive director of the Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority.

Chapman said wraps could generate $60,000 to $300,000 a year.

"You're always looking for ways to make your money go further," Chapman said.




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