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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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Council members keep Metro’s covered buses

[media-credit name=’JEFF SCHORFHEIDE/Herald photo’ align=’alignnone’ width=’648′]CityCouncil_JS[/media-credit]

The Madison City Council approved Tuesday adding five new Metro Transit buses with advertising wraps to the 15 buses already participating in the two-year trial program.

However, heated debate developed on the nature of the bus wraps and whether they are worth the $50,000 they generate for the city.

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The wraps are the result of a pilot project with Adams Outdoor Advertising that is set to end in 2009.

Madison citizens voiced their opposition to the bus wraps, claiming they degrade ride experience by decreasing visibility from the windows. They also said the ads made it hard to read street signs, and one citizen said the fully wrapped buses could not be seen by guide dogs that usually know when the bus is coming.

Dejope Casino and Miller Lite advertisements on a few city buses sparked controversy in the council.

?We want to watch alcohol consumption downtown, and we are wrapping our buses in beer cans,? said Ald. Brenda Konkel, District 2.

Support for the wraps was split, as alders who supported continuing the pilot program said it should not be altered halfway through its run.

?We?re in a pilot period right now, and we already approved it in the budget,? said Ald. Brian Solomon, District 10.

Ald. Satya Rhodes-Conway, District 12, encouraged her fellow alders to support finishing the program and learn from the results.

?We agreed to a pilot program. Whatever you think of wraps, we agreed we would try them. ? Then at the end of that pilot program, we would thrash it all out again and hear all those arguments over again but based on some actual information,? Rhodes-Conway said. ?Let?s try it out, and let?s do it right.?

Supporters also questioned how the city would account for the $50,000 it brought in if the project was terminated, especially considering the Metro Transit?s tight budget.

Those against bus wraps said they are very unpopular among citizens, and keeping them on buses is doing a disservice to Metro Transit riders.

?We need to think about riders first and foremost,? City Council President, Mike Verveer, District 4, said. ?More and more of us have heard negative responses from our constituents.?

According to Konkel, the city has significant leeway in its budget, and the revenue from the advertisement pilot program can be absorbed; the trade-off is not worth it.

?This isn?t about preferences,? Konkel said. ?This is about people?s ability to ride the bus, just like everybody else.?

The City Council also approved the initial development phases of a new apartment building on North Butler Street. The construction involves relocating a potentially historic house and demolishing two houses on the property. The new development received strong support from residents from the 2nd aldermanic district who spoke at the meeting.

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