BART tries to put revenue streams on fast track

Passengers traveling on BART in the near future may be exposed to a whole new set of sights and sounds.

Television monitors in stations and trains, wraparound advertisements, corporate sponsorship of stations and highway billboards are some of the proposals the transit agency is considering to generate extra money.

Although BART was one of the few transit agencies in the nation to end the fiscal year with a budget surplus — it had $8.5 million — board of directors President James Fang asked the agency to propose new revenue generators to safeguard against future economic pitfalls.

“We really don’t want to rest on our laurels right now,” Fang said. “Given the expansive nature of BART, there has to be some additional revenue opportunities out there, and I thought this would be a great way to spark some conversation about those possibilities.”

BART staff came up with five options, all of which involve advertising.

Two of the options include posting television monitors in BART trains and stations. The private provider would pay for the installation of the networks, which would provide transit information and periodically air advertisements, BART spokesman Linton Johnson said.

“This could be a way to underwrite some major projects that enhance the customer experience,” Johnson said.

Using billboard advertising on the highways above BART’s right of way, wrapping trains in advertising and allowing stations to be sponsored were proposed as well. To approve station sponsorship, the agency would have to revoke a board policy against the measure that was enacted in 2001.

Other than the billboard proposal, which is projected to net the agency $3.6 million each year, BART has not attached dollar values to any of the potential advertising programs. BART has fallen short in the past on its advertising projections. Following the economic downturn, the agency had to restructure its 10-year contract with Titan, an advertising company, from $140 million to $95 million, because the provider was on the verge of bankruptcy.

“Advertising has always overpromised and underdelivered,” said BART board member Tom Radulovich, who added that the agency should pursue development-impact fees as a new source of revenue.

The agency will discuss the new revenue possibilities at its board meeting Thursday.

 

Transit money

A portion of the income for the transit agency comes from advertising.

  • $8.5 million: BART surplus for this fiscal year
  • $582 million: Total BART budget
  • $140 million: Original 10-year revenue projection from advertising contract with Titan
  • $95 million: Revised 10-year revenue after contract with Titan was restructured

Source: BART

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