BART board not sold on edgy ideas for revenue

A series of potential moneymaking opportunities for BART, including corporate sponsorship of stations and advertising wraps on trains, got the cold shoulder from the agency’s Board of Directors on Thursday.

Although the agency just finished dealing with an $8.5 million budget surplus, board President James Fang made a request that BART staff further study revenue-generating possibilities.

On Thursday, BART marketing officials pitched five separate advertising programs, each of which would bring the agency at least $1 million annually. Despite the potential windfall, not one of the five plans received unanimous support from the nine-person BART board.

A pitch to install billboard advertising on the highways above BART’s rights of way was met with strong resistance from various board members, particularly due to the potential zoning conflicts with local municipalities and legal constraints against such structures.

Several board members said that placing commercial advertising banners on BART trains, which would generate $1.2 million annually, would create an eyesore for passengers.

Renaming stations after corporate sponsors was greeted with the most disdain from the board, with many of the members saying that ever-changing business monikers would confuse riders.

Separate proposals to place video screens on BART’s stations and trains were the only ones not met with significant opposition. The screens, which would air information about train times, news and weather items and advertising spots, were called the top options by directors Gail Murray and Bob Franklin.

Director Tom Radulovich said he didn’t support any of the five measures, mainly because they go against the agency’s policy of providing passengers with a dignified travel experience.

“This is eroding the dignity of these stations and the communities they serve,” said Radulovich. “We need to go in the opposite direction.”

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

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