Chicago Transit Authority Amends Advertising Policy

May 8, 2013

New policy enables CTA to focus on revenue generation to support transit activities while maintaining comfortable environment for customers

The Chicago Transit Board today voted to update CTA’s advertising policy to more clearly define the types of ads it will accept on CTA property, including rail stations, trains and buses. The changes will allow the CTA to focus on its core objective, which is to create additional revenue to support its transit operations while providing safe, secure and convenient transportation for its customers.

In keeping with its primary function as a provider of public transportation, the CTA’s purpose behind selling advertising is to generate additional revenue to support bus and rail operations, and not to exist as a public forum for advertisements.

Accordingly, CTA will no longer accept political or public issue advertising. It will also no longer accept ads for adult/mature rated films, television programs and video games.

The new policy will allow only three categories of advertisements: commercial and promotional; governmental ads; and public service announcements. Public service announcements will be limited to non-profit organizations and the messages must relate to health, welfare or education.

The policy change designates CTA as a non-public forum, similar to actions taken by some other U.S. transit agencies in recent years.

“The new policy will allow the CTA to collect revenue for the benefit of the transit system while preserving and enhancing the security, safety, convenience and comfort of our passengers,” said CTA President Forrest Claypool. “CTA buses and trains are not public forums for debate. These guidelines make clear the purpose advertising has for the CTA and defines more precisely what is acceptable advertising on our system and what is not.”

The policy change also updates the CTA’s disparagement guidelines to include all groups of people, following a recent legal decision that found other transit agency guidelines too narrow in their definitions of what groups of individuals were protected from disparagement.

The amended policy also will remove some of the burdensome time that must be spent on reviewing advertising that is questionable in nature. Of the more than 1,200 advertising contracts in 2012, less than 1 percent was political and or public issue advertisements, representing about $100,000 in annual revenue.

The new policy does not change CTA’s advertising contract with Titan Worldwide, which generates and manages CTA advertising. The new policy will apply to all new advertisements on train, buses and CTA facilities.

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