MD: TransIT Bus Shelters May Have Digital Advertising

Aug. 22--An advertising deal could potentially bring more bus shelters to the TransIT Services system.

TransIT has been in talks with a vendor, Signal Outdoor, to install digital, variable ads and signs on benches. In exchange for the majority of the advertising revenue, the advertiser would provide the shelters and benches.

The city of Frederick discussed changes to its memorandum of understanding with Frederick County government Wednesday regarding bus stop ads because the document does not address that type of advertising.

Apart from allowing the new types of advertising, the agreement remains the same as last year's version.

Electronic signs would not be allowed in the Carroll Creek and historic preservation areas.

The agreement prohibits certain types of advertising. Ads that are false, misleading or deceptive; advertise alcohol or tobacco-related products; are sexually explicit or obscene; can be construed to be harmful to minors; or include profanity will not be allowed. Shelters are required to be solar-powered and not a hindrance to visibility. They will be maintained by Frederick County.

There are now 12 shelters in the county, TransIT Services representative Carrie Anderson-Watters told the aldermen. The arrangement could be an opportunity to provide more or upgrade existing ones.

"A lot of them are very old and not in very good condition," she said. "A lot of them are not (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant."

At this early stage of discussions, it is unclear how many shelters could be installed. The memorandum will need to be approved by the aldermen and the Board of County Commissioners before TransIT can continue negotiating with Signal Outdoor.

Anderson-Watters anticipated that it might be difficult to find spots with enough traffic to justify digital signs. However, after the workshop, she said the contract could allow the company to install as many as 100 over the next 15 years.

"This is something that we're really excited about because we haven't had a lot of shelters in our system," she said.

Although no vote was taken at the workshop, some city officials appeared on board with the changes.

Alderwoman Kelly Russell called the digital signs an innovative way to fund something with no cost to the county.

Alderman Michael O'Connor noted that the signs could be used for public notices and public service messages.

"It's required as part of our contract," Anderson-Watters said.

Follow Kelsi Loos on Twitter: @KelsiFNP.

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