The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

March 27, 2013

Senator: School bus ads could bring in cash

CHARLESTON — Everyone is familiar with the huge, yellow vehicles with black lettering.

Each day, they blanket the roads and streets of West Virginia, hauling children to and from school.

If Senate Majority Leader John Unger, D-Berkeley, has his way, the buses might some day be carrying some extra cargo — advertising.

By allowing commercial ads to appear on buses, Unger sees a means of generating some money for extra-curricular activities, child nutrition programs, and the like.

“It’s just an idea that came to my attention in which counties in other states are looking at this as a way of raising revenue for things that do not collect a lot of revenues, like athletics,” Unger explained Tuesday.

“It’s just something to look at. I put it out there just to have a discussion. I’m not pushing it one way or another. It’s being discussed in other states. I thought we could have the conversation in order to raise additional revenues, instead of having children going out trying to sell candy and do all that.”

Not that advertisers would enjoy carte blanche to put just anything on the outside of a school bus.

Any such ads would have to be “age appropriate,” says SB597, and by that, no advertiser could billboard any substance or activity that is off limits to minors, such as alcohol, tobacco, drugs or gambling.

Nor could ads promote sexual material, or any political party, candidate or issue, the Unger bill specifies.

School boards would adopt rules on the placement and size of all such ads.

No ad could be any larger than one-fourth of the side of a bus, but can be either painted or appear in a decal.

“I don’t know if it’s going to get through the Legislature,” Unger said.

“It’s just the idea of throwing it out there and having a discussion on it. If it has merit, it will fly and we’ll be able to restrict it. And if it doesn’t, it won’t.”

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