T takes go-slow approach on alcohol ads

Aiello: ‘Let’s not let this be about money”

WARY OF OFFENDING the public, the MBTA’s Fiscal Management and Control Board on Monday directed the agency’s staff to redraft an alcohol advertising proposal to reduce exposure to young transit riders.

“My suggestion would be to step back a little bit and think long-term and maybe not be driven by a revenue yield,” said Joseph Aiello, the chairman of the board. “Let’s not let this be about money but about policy evolution. I’d rather give up a couple of bucks and get it right.”

The T, which banned alcohol advertising in 2012 after lots of complaints about youth exposure, decided earlier this year to bring alcohol ads back to the system to increase revenues. Evan Rowe, the T’s director of revenue, outlined a plan on Monday that banned alcohol ads from buses; within 500 feet of churches, schools, and playgrounds; and at stations where Student Pass users exceed 10 percent of station ridership. The plan also allowed only 15 subway cars, about 2 percent of the total, to be wrapped with alcohol ads.

Rowe estimated the T’s plan would raise somewhere between $2 million and $4.5 million.

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Natasha Ishak is the editorial intern at CommonWealth magazine. Her duties include reporting and writing on the latest policy issues happening on Beacon Hill.

Before arriving at CommonWealth Magazine, she worked as a digital intern under NOVA/PBS at WGBH. She was a reporter in her hometown of Jakarta for four years, writing up stories at The Jakarta Post - Indonesia's oldest leading English-language daily, and as a production assistant on the popular news program, the Indonesia Morning Show.

Now in her second year pursuing a master's degree in journalism at Emerson College, she hopes to shed light on marginalized communities through stories related to politics, immigration, social justice and the environment.

About Natasha Ishak

Natasha Ishak is the editorial intern at CommonWealth magazine. Her duties include reporting and writing on the latest policy issues happening on Beacon Hill.

Before arriving at CommonWealth Magazine, she worked as a digital intern under NOVA/PBS at WGBH. She was a reporter in her hometown of Jakarta for four years, writing up stories at The Jakarta Post - Indonesia's oldest leading English-language daily, and as a production assistant on the popular news program, the Indonesia Morning Show.

Now in her second year pursuing a master's degree in journalism at Emerson College, she hopes to shed light on marginalized communities through stories related to politics, immigration, social justice and the environment.

Several board members questioned whether the policy was consistent, since a subway car wrapped in an alcohol ad could pass by a church or playground. Aiello urged T officials to come up with a plan that would minimize youth exposure, even if it ended up resulting in less revenue for the agency.

Rowe said he and his staff will go back to the drawing board, and it was unclear whether the staff would give up discussions around wraparound subway car ads altogether. Several members of the control board urged T staff to focus on ads appearing on digital sign boards during hours of the day when youths are unlikely to be riding the T.

  • casmatt99

    Kids see billboards and television commercials for booze every single day.

    Why does it fall on the MBTA to protect them from something they are already exposed to? This is a ridiculous proposition.

    Furthermore, since the Red, Orange and Blue lines operate mostly out of sight for most of their respective routes, so you can bet advertisers will want only Green Line trains to be wrapped.