- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 13, 2003

Metro officials yesterday reviewed plans to generate revenue by increasing advertising on buses and trains and to save resources by scrapping five little-used bus lines.

Increased advertising could bring in $23.2 million a year and ending the five bus lines would save about $2 million a year, according to reports presented to Metro’s Budget Committee.

One new ad under consideration for subway tunnels would consist of a series of lighted screens that passengers would see as a train passes by at 5 mph, said Leona Agouridis, Metro’s assistant general manager for communications. Each screen would be slightly different from the preceding one, so viewers would seem to be watching a moving picture.

Such tunnel ads might bring in $1 million annually. Ads appearing on video monitors on trains and buses are expected to generate about $10 million in revenue each year.

Other ads could appear on banners in Metro stations, on bus and train shelters, on “headliners” on trains and buses, and in parking lots.

Officials made no mention of public service announcements, such as the promotions for legalizing marijuana that have generated protests over the past two months.

Though 5 percent of Metro’s ad space will be devoted to public service announcements by nonprofit groups, a Metro subcommittee decided Oct. 30 that those ads will be sponsored only by federal and local governments.

Meanwhile, Metro statistician Rick Harcum reported that Hurricane Isabel caused a passenger revenue loss of $2.6 million in September.

In addition, Metrorail lost $2.1 million and Metrobus lost $500,000 because of the federal, state and local government closures prompted by the storm.

Next month, about 2,000 bus riders will have to find new ways to get to work if the Metro Board of Directors approves the plan to scrap five bus lines: free shuttle parking at Greenbelt Station, reverse commute from D.C. to Bethesda, and three routes between Montgomery County and Tysons.

“Of all the things we ought to be doing, cutting back on transit service is not what we should be considering,” said Metro board member Christopher Zimmerman, adding that residents throughout the region are complaining about long commutes.

Metro board member Robert Smith, however, urged closing three additional routes from Prince George’s County to Alexandria.

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