BART alcohol ads rile supes

Agency stresses revenue but critics don’t like message; Ammiano drafts resolution

A recent decision by BART to allow alcohol advertising in its stations and cars has come under fire from the Board of Supervisors.

Last month, the BART board of directors approved a new policy that lifted a long-time prohibition on alcohol advertising. The decision makes BART the only local transit agency that allows alcohol advertising.

The new policy now allows one alcohol advertisement per BART car, and at each BART station 17 percent of the ads can be alcohol advertisements. For example, if there are 30 ads at a station,five can be alcohol advertisements.

The board of directors adopted the policy on Sept. 18 in a 6-3 vote. It’s estimated that the alcohol ads will bring in an additional $400,000 a year in revenue, according to Aaron Weinstein, BART deputy manager of marketing and research.

“It’s not the greatest message, but alcohol is part of our society. It’s out there. Even if you prohibit it, people still drink,” BART board of directors member Bob Franklin said. “All advertisement is a compromise from my point of view. It’s a necessary evil.”

Supervisor Tom Ammiano has drafted a resolution that will be submitted to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, urging BART to reconsider its decision.

BART’s ridership includes those who are “particularly vulnerable to alcohol advertising,” such as recovering alcoholics and teenagers, a draft of the resolution says.

It also says “exposure to alcohol advertising is positively associated with higher rates of drinking.”

“I am hoping that BART goes beyond the dollar,” said board of directors member James Fang, who opposed alcohol advertising. Children and teenagers who see the ads could be more inclined to drink “and I don’t think BART should be a part of that,” Fang said.

BART generates up to $7 million a year from advertisements in its stations and cars, which represents about 2 percent of its total revenue, according to Weinstein.

The new policy continues to prohibit smoking advertisements and a slew of other types of ads, such as ads that look like graffiti, display graphic violence, contain profanity or adult content.

“I felt that BART would be better off with a half million dollars,” Franklin said, adding that the money could be used to hire five more BART car cleaners.

Thomas Blalock, a BART board of directors member, said, “I just didn’t see it as a big deal. It’s not going to be inundating everything. … It boosts the coffers,” he added.

No alcohol ads have gone up yet because BART is still working out the details with CBS Outdoor, the New York-based company contracted to secure advertisements.

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