Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Liquor ads banned from the T

Announced on January 24th, 2012 the MBTA will officially ban all advertisement that display alcoholic beverages on MBTA property including subway cars, buses, and station signs. 
This comes at a time when the debt stricken agency is contemplating fare increases and service cuts. The MBTA needs to find all the revenue they can since they are currently facing an $180 Million shortfall for FY 2013. This is truly not a good time to be taking away revenue. According to the Boston Globe the T will lose around $1.5 Million in advertising revenue during the first year of the ban. 

Earlier Post:

 State Representative David Nangle (D-Lowell) is pushing to ban the advertisement of alcohol from state-owned property with his new bill. His bill would make it fully illegal for advertisements that display alcoholic beverages to appear on any state-owened property. The state entity that the legislation is targeting the most though is the MBTA. Those of you who ride the T on a daily basis know that ads that showcase beer and hard liquor are a very common occurrence on the side of subway cars, buses, and on platform billboards.

As of this year the MBTA and the New York City MTA are the only two transit authorities to still allow alcohol to be advertised on their public system. Chicago, L.A., Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington all prohibit this on their systems. Nangle's reasoning for creating this bill is because he thinks it is counterproductive. "We're always trying to teach our youth about the effects of alcohol but at the same time, you have college kids who are 17 or 18 riding the subway, and here we are promoting it.....it's kind of in their face, so to speak" said Nangle.

Green Line to Boston College 
One of the biggest questions that comes along with this bill is how it will affect the T. The MBTA, has an estimated debt of over $8 Billion, has been selling excessive amounts of advertising  in order to try and make up for the $180 Million shortfall in next year's budget. They have even started selling ad space on the Charlie Card and MBTA.com (The MBTA did announce the they WILL ban online alcohol ads). If the MBTA were to lose all of the revenue it makes from the hundreds of alcohol advertisements (267 according to researchers from Boston University) they might have to go back and start all over again. Nangle thinks differently though. He believes that even though the T makes a plentiful amount of revenue from companies who sell alcohol they can most definitely find other companies to take over the empty space.

Personally, I don't think this bill will pass. Nangle and Rep. Martin Walsh (D-Boston) have both filed similar bills in the past, but have failed to get them out of committee. Also, being underage, I don't fully feel that this will help keep kids and students who are underage from drinking. I see the same amount of advertising for liquor on a T ride that I see in a single issue of Rolling Stone magazine. Minors are exposed to advertisements for liquor everywhere, not just the T.

Source: The Lowell Sun


  1. Why couldn't the MBTA use these ads to improve revenue as well as put the spin on them that taking the T is the responsible decision when drinking. This could encourage riders to choose the T over driving by portraying it as the "right" decision. Instead of taking away the alcohol ads (and their funding) all together the MBTA should try to find a positive spin on it.

  2. We truly LOVE your idea and agree with you 100%! Thanks for sharing!

  3. I think they're going to lose a lot of money on this. Look at Kenmore Station during Red Sox season--that place is wallpapered (and even the floor is covered!) with beer ads. Who are they going to get now to make up that revenue?

  4. Thanks for your comment Andrea! We totally agree!

  5. The Globe is incorrect. According to Rich Davie (https://twitter.com/#!/steveannear/status/162188865736679425), MBTA took in 1.5 million in alcohol ads last year. That means the MBTA only loses 1.5 million if they don't sell any ads to replace the ad space that was taken up by booze. That seems highly unlikely.

    Alcohol advertising is a major contributor to a serious public health problem that costs governments huge sums of money. Although it's not always the easiest thing to do, sometimes it's helpful to step outside of just looking at the issue we care about and try to see the big picture.

    Bottom line: Negligible drop in advertising revenue to improve public health is well worth it.

  6. I agree with you to some extent. The MBTA however, is not the only place people are going to be seeing alcohol advertisements. Alcoholic Advertising is everywhere; billboards in Downtown Crossing, huge loud billboard on all highways coming in and out of the city of Boston, many major magazines, television commercials (especially the Super Bowl which is watched by Millions of Americans). While I agree that alcohol is a major factor in many serious public health problems and that it is able to be abused by young and old, I don't agree that cutting advertising (like we are seeing the MBTA do and like the bills going through our state and federal government want) will have a large impact on the effects of alcohol on the public. People (young and old) are still going to be greatly exposed to it no matter what.

    I do feel however that the MBTA should run campaigns, along with alcohol advertising, that will encourage people to take the MBTA instead of driving when they are intoxicated. This is hard however due to the fact that the MBTA does not run all night.

    This is just my opinion.

    1. It's true that the MBTA is not by any stretch the only place people see alcohol ads. Not even close. HOwever, the bar should be much higher for a publicly funded agency and public space. Government agencies shouldn't be promoting alcohol consumption. Period. And then throw in the fact that in Boston many youth rely on the T to get to school, and it's really wrong to send them on trains wrapped in booze ads. In my opinion.

      Would you want to see cigarette ads on the T?

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