CHICAGO (CBS) — For the first time in 15 years, CTA will accept ads for beer, wine and hard liquor.
The change in policy is expected to generate an additional $3.2 million for the cash-strapped agency. CTA President Forrest Claypool said advertising broker Titan Worldwide already has ad buyers lined up.
The new policy, which takes effect immediately, still bars alcohol-related ads aboard buses. It also limits the ads to ‘L’ stations between Montrose and Roosevelt, Ashland and the lakefront. There is an exception that allows alcohol ads at the Green and Red Line stations on 35th Street, near U.S. Cellular Field. And up to 30 ‘L’ cars will be outfitted with alcohol-related ads at any given time.
The ads also will continue to be barred at ‘L’ stations that have a high number of students as riders.
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Claypool said he believed the change is being made in a “very responsible way,” and said the restrictions were discussed with the Rev. Michael Pfleger, who spearheaded the drive to halt such advertising on CTA buses, trains and ‘L’ stations 15 years ago.
“I’m not one who likes any alcohol advertising, but I was glad to hear that they’re not going to do any on any buses, which is the primary thing that’s ridden by students,” Pfleger said.
Ironically, one of Pfleger’s staunchest supporters in instituting the ban 15 years ago was then-Ald. Terry Peterson, now CTA board chairman.
The ads must state the legal drinking age and include warnings about the dangers of drinking alcohol. Pfleger said he had an assurance from CTA and Titan that they would not promote alcohol-laden energy drinks.
Claypool said the additional revenue will allow CTA a bit more breathing room in its negotiations with its unions on contract concessions. CTA has been in negotiations with the unions in an attempt to achieve $80 million in concessions by July 1.
Massive fare hikes and service cuts are expected if the talks fail to achieve the needed reductions in expenses.
“It’s, as you might expect, two steps forward and one step back” with the contract negotiations, Claypool said.
The change in policy does not affect bus shelters, which are managed by JC Decaux under a separate contract with the Chicago Dept. of Transportation. Decaux has sold alcohol advertising since erecting the shelters.
The CTA’s board also changed its policies governing political and public service ads by non-profit groups and government agencies, requiring them to spell out clearly who is sponsoring the ad so that it is clear CTA is not endorsing candidates or specific programs.
It also will require organizations that have been granted free use of unutilized ad space aboard ‘L’ trains and buses to purchase an equal amount of advertising, effective May 1.