Perhaps it's hard to believe, but giant billboards on the sides of Charlotte buses and trains only appeared about a year ago when the city started allowing ads on transit vehicles. Now the Charlotte Area Transit System wants to go even further.
Monday night, CATS will petition city council members for permission to sell advertising on light rail platforms. CATS Spokeswoman Jean Leier says the recession hurt transit funding.
"We saw our tax receipts dip during that time," says Leier. "We are looking at additional ways – such as we now have ads on the outside of our buses and trains that generate revenue for the system and we're looking at additional ways to do that."
One recent attempt to raise money got the transit system in hot water: CATS started selling alcohol ads on buses and trains, only to scale back its plan a bit when the City Council balked. Leier does not know if alcohol ads would be allowed on light rail platforms.
CATS says it will limit the ads to 3½ feet tall and not allow advertisers to incorporate lights or electronics. Only six ads will be allowed on each platform. Leier says the ads will primarily be on fences around light rail stops. They won't be visible from the street or interfere with public art.