By Jon Hilkevitch
12:46 PM CDT, March 14, 2012
The CTA today ended its 15-year-old ban on accepting advertising for alcoholic beverages in a move projected to generate an extra $3.2 million to the transit agency on its existing ad contract.
The CTA board approved an ordinance amending the agency's advertising guidelines. It will allow advertising for beer, wine and liquor on CTA rail cars and at certain rail stations that are not near schools and other locations, officials said.
The ban on booze ads on CTA buses will continue, officials said.
"We are doing this in a very responsible way," CTA President Forrest Claypool said.
He noted the CTA started 2012 with a $277 million budget deficit, and service cuts and fare increases are still a possibility this summer if negotiations with CTA unions over proposed work rule changes do not lead to up to $80 million in savings.
"We need every single dollar we can get to meet the needs" of the agency and its customers, Claypool said, referring to dropping the ban on alcohol ads that has been in place since 1997.
In another change, political ads and public service announcements by non-profit groups and government agencies will be required to disclose who is sponsoring or paying for the ads, to make it clear CTA is not endorsing any political candidate or viewpoint, officials said.
Language was also added to the CTA ordinance to make it clear the transit agency prohibits ads promoting infidelity, escort services and sexually oriented products or businesses, officials said.
The alcohol ads will be restricted mainly to the downtown area, officials said.
CTA bus shelters operated by JC Decaux under a separate contract with the city of Chicago have carried alcohol ads for years and are not affected by the CTA ordinance.
Titan Worldwide is the CTA's advertising broker. New advertising revenue for the CTA based on introducing alcohol ads is guaranteed at $3.2 million on the remainder of the current three-year contract, officials said.
Titan's total minimum annual guarantee for all advertisements is $57.5 million.
Alcohol ads will not be allowed in rail stations where reduced-fare student riders exceed 7.5 percent of the total ridership, the ordinance said.
The boundaries where alcohol ads will be permitted are Montrose Avenue on the north, Roosevelt Road on the south, Ashland Avenue on the west and Lake Michigan on the east, plus the Sox/35th Red Line station and the 35th/Bronzeville/IIT station on the Green Line, the CTA said.
Alcohol ads on the exteriors of CTA trains will also be limited to 15 pairs of cars, officials said.
The ads will be required to contain a statement on the legal drinking age in Illinois and warnings about the potential dangers of alcohol consumption.
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