Transit Board sets limits for bus advertising

By Michelle Landrum

The Student Association Mass Transit Board set limits Monday to prevent national corporations from dominating advertising space on the Huskie Bus Line.

The limitations stem from discussion brought up two weeks ago by Huskie Line General Manager Charlie Battista concerning bus advertising by the Coors Corporation.

Although there have been no problems with national companies dominating local bus advertising, the board passed a provision that any single advertiser, national or local, cannot control more than 20 percent of available bus advertising space without board approval.

“Our concern is just being fair-minded,” Mass Transit Adviser Dave Pack said. Local businesses might not have the opportunity to advertise if no controls are set, he said.

Currently, 39 signs are open for advertisements on the 13 buses. Twenty percent of the space amounts to eight signs.

Battista voiced concern that national corporations could monopolize the relatively inexpensive bus advertising space and squeeze local businesses out of the market. National ads also might raise complaints about advertising alcohol, cigarettes and other potentially offensive products.

Pi Sigma Epsilon, an NIU student organization, handles all advertising for the Huskie buses. PSE receives 40 percent of the profits, while the mass transit system receives the remaining 60 percent.

Microsolutions, a national business and the largest PSE advertiser, currently runs eight signs throughout the semester. Coors Corporation has two signs.

Local businesses and politicians also are subject to the provision. Last year, a local politician spent $1,600 on bus advertising during one semester, PSE representative Janet Palmeri said.

Not all board members agree with the provision. “Why would we want to restrict it? I still don’t see this as any big issue,” board member Olin Anderson said.

In other mass transit business, the board decided to use the SA-operated Handivan as an additional vehicle for the Late Nite Ride Service.

By using the van instead of another NIU vehicle, the service will save $560 per year, not including the cost of gas and maintenance. “We’re serving more students, getting more use out of it (the Handivan) and saving money,” Pack said.

Using the Handivan for the service will cut down on total mileage because the van can accommodate up to ten passengers. Use of the Handivan also allows the service to transport handicapped students.

Because the ride service runs from 2 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, the ride service will not interfere with the Handivan’s schedule.

The Handivan has provided 446 rides for handicapped students so far this semester, NIU Transportation Director Bill Finucane said. The average is eight rides per day, but the van has provided as many as 23 rides in one day, he said.