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CATS fuels debate with talks of resurrecting ads (access required)

By Sam Boykin Ron Tober was not a fan of the bologna bus. In fact, it was one of the reasons that Tober, former Charlotte Area Transit System chief executive, decided to do away with all ads on the exterior of city buses shortly after taking over CATS in 1999. “I have nothing against Oscar Mayer or bologna,” said Tober, who left CATS in 2007 and is now deputy CEO at Seattle’s Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority.  “But we were trying to change our image and get people to take transit seriously, and here’s a bus rolling down the street that looks like a big pile of bologna.” While it’s unknown if CATS will resurrect the bologna bus, transit officials are once again considering placing ads on the outside of buses, light-rail trains and train station kiosks. CATS already sells ads on the inside of light-rail cars and buses. “When people see an ad for Oscar Mayer lunch meat it doesn’t necessarily make them want to ride transit,” said Olaf Kinard, director of marketing and communications for CATS. “But as we get bigger, we also feel the pressure to advertise as a revenue source.”

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