New York Latest State to Consider School Bus Ads

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A bill has been introduced into the state legislature that would give school districts the open to sell ad space on school buses.

A07701 would give school boards the right to sell advertising space on the exterior sides of school buses that are either owned or leased by the district. The bill would prohibit advertisements for tobacco and alcohol products or for political campaigns. The advertisements would also need to be approved by the local board of education before placement.

The revenue for the ads would be fully retained by the school district. But, according to the text of the bill, the provisions do not apply to cities with populations of one million people or more. The bill is currently being reviewed by the Assembly Committee on Education.

The New York Association for Pupil Transportation opposes the bill. In a statement on its Web site, NYAPT said that 88 percent of 140 responses to a recent survey indicated that members opposed any form of school bus advertising. While agreeing that additional financial resources are necessary for school district operations, safety is a concern as the ads could increase distracted driving, especially around school bus loading and unloading zones, and could detract from “national school bus chrome,” the yellow color of school buses that have remained the same since 1939.

Earlier this year, New Jersey and Utah passed laws allowing school districts to begin selling ads on buses after state agencies develop procedures and standards for the size, placement and messaging of those ads. NASDPTS also published a new paper documenting its opposition to school bus ads due to distraction and safety concerns despite ads being one way for districts to offset budget cuts.

In the early 1990s, Colorado was the first state to pass regulations allowing school bus ads.