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Charlotte Area

CATS test-runs ads on busses and trains

The Charlotte Bobcats may have the first ads in a decade appearing on the outside of the Charlotte Area Transit's vehicles. If that goes well, transit officials may decide to allow other companies to buy space. It appears Lynx rail cars will soon bear the image of All-Star Gerald Wallace and the message "Bobcats on the Prowl." Transit officials see this as a test-run of how advertising would work on CATS trains and busses. Since 2000, CATS vehicles have operated ad-free. Former CATS CEO Ron Tober wanted the system to look professional and orderly. But CATS board chairman Jennifer Roberts says the system needs to look at other options, as CATS considers increasing fares and cutting service to plug budget gaps. "People are asking, 'Are there other places that you could get revenue? Are there places you could support some of the tax revenues that are declining?' So I think the public is more willing for us to look at it," says Roberts. The agreement with the Bobcats still needs to be signed. CATS expects to make up to $31,000 on the Bobcats ads, which will appear on Lynx cars for two weeks. A two-year old study estimates ads on busses alone could generate between $700,000 and $1.4 million annually. Roberts says that wouldn't bring in enough money to prevent fare increases planned for this summer. If transit officials decide to allow advertising, Roberts says the CATS board will find ways to ensure that ads are tasteful.