Dela Cruz backs off
bus ad plan

His Council measure calls
for selling space on the bus
exteriors to raise revenues

City Councilman Donovan Dela Cruz has backed down from pushing for immediate passage of his bill that proposes advertising on the outside of city buses.

"I'm not married to bus advertising," Dela Cruz said. "I'm more married to finding revenues."

The bill had an uphill climb, with opposition coming from the Outdoor Circle, Scenic Hawaii Inc., Planned Parenthood and Mayor Jeremy Harris' administration.

Critics were concerned about the visual blight the moving ads would have on Oahu's scenery and the potential First Amendment challenges that could arise.

Dela Cruz said he would like to see the bill postponed to allow the advisory Transportation Commission to research how to increase bus revenues without raising bus fares or increasing taxes.

The commission wrote a letter last week to the Council asking that the bill be deferred while it looks into the issue.

"The members of the commission will be researching several options and issues, including advertising on city buses. We will be exploring the potential for legal challenges and generating revenues by advertising on city buses," commission Vice Chairwoman Claire Tamamoto wrote.

The bill is scheduled for a public hearing tomorrow, but there may be a recommendation to shelve the bill.

Dela Cruz said his intent in introducing the bill was to find ways to increase bus revenue without hitting up bus riders.

"My whole point is that we cannot make it so expensive for the very people who need the bus, so we need to come up with other revenue sources," he said.

Dela Cruz said the consensus among Council members is on a plan to hike bus fares, raising $6.8 million to cover a shortfall in the bus operating budget. He said the bill includes a plan that would give a break to low-income bus riders. The fare bill comes up for a final vote tomorrow.

Dela Cruz also said the advertising bill had the support of five council members -- enough to pass it out of the Council but not enough to overcome a veto by the mayor.

Mary Steiner of The Outdoor Circle said that the news of Dela Cruz's position was "fabulous."

"We are very pleased," said Steiner. "I would like to say that I think we had something to do with it but I think that it was a really unpopular idea and it wasn't just the Outdoor Circle members who were against it."

Steiner said that one compromise could be to put more advertising inside the bus to generate money for bus operations. "They already allow advertising inside the buses but it's not widely used."


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