Updated 05/18/2011 05:46 AM
School bus ads coming to New York?
Advertisements cover buses all over the area. But school buses? Putting ads on them is largely considered taboo and New York's banned the practice altogether since the 1990s. But with many districts struggling to make ends meet, our Solomon Syed reports that school buses could get a makeover.
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NEW YORK STATE -- Black and yellow: That's been the color of school buses since 1939. But almost 75 years later, they could look a bit more like automobiles you see on NASCAR speedways.
"To put ads on a school bus, we just find it highly offensive," says Peter Mannella of the New York Association of Pupil Transportation.
Mannella responded to matching bills in the Senate and Assembly that would allow school districts to sell ad space on their school buses.
"50,000 people pass a school bus every day," said Mannella. "And to put an advertisement on the back of the side of that, just draws away from the fact that bus is there to pick up a child."
Senator Mark Grisanti sponsored the bill in the Senate.
"We're not going to wrap the bus and completely eliminate it from being yellow," said Grisanti. "I'm sure there will be restrictions."
One proposal would limit ads to window space. Districts also won't be able to sell spots for tobacco products or alcohol.
Safety isn't the only concern. Critics question just how much revenue these ads will actually generate.
However, supporters say when these stop signs come out, passing motorists will be a captive audience for what is on buses.
"There's a good chance that we can bring some revenue into our schools at a time when there are teacher layoffs and program cuts," said Assemblyman Steven Engelbright the bill's sponsor in the Assembly. "Even if it's on a short term basis."
The law may only last two years, enough time for lawmakers to judge its usefulness and see if they want to renew it.
One school district in Colorado recently signed a four-year, $2 million advertising deal for its buses.
It may seem unorthodox, but for struggling school districts across the state, advertisements could turn black and yellow, to green.
The matching bills sit in the education committees in both the Senate and Assembly. Grisanti and Engelbright are optimistic they'll be voted on by the end of the current legislative session in June.