MBTA overseers plan to take a cautious first sip, rather than a big gulp, of advertising revenue from the booze industry.
The MBTA's Fiscal and Management Control Board on Monday turned back staff-generated plans to allow for alcohol ads in certain locations, asking for an approach that includes greater restrictions on when they will be displayed.
MBTA Revenue Director Evan Rowe estimated his plan for relaxing the ban on alcohol ads would produce an additional $2 million to $4.5 million in advertising revenue per year. Rowe had proposed allowing for wraparound ads on the exteriors of up to 15 train cars, and permitting adult beverage ads in stations with less than 10 percent of student ridership.
However, control board member Monica Tibbits-Nutt said she was concerned about full-car train ads catching the eye of youngsters, and board members said they preferred limiting alcohol ads based on time of day, rather than the location of stations, to avoid youths commuting to school from spotting them.
The T reportedly banned alcohol ads in 2012, and T officials have been cautious about bellying up to the revenue stream again, although they want access to more ad dollars.
"I'd rather give up a couple of bucks and do it right, and not do harm," said Board Chairman Joseph Aiello, who also remarked that he is "not a Puritan."
Board members suggested limiting ads to digital billboards, so that T officials can control what time of day the ads are displayed. The board members welcomed a restriction suggested by Rowe that would bar booze ads from buses.
With fentanyl and heroin taking a deadly daily toll on Massachusetts residents, state officials have taken steps in recent years to address substance abuse, including prevention efforts and treatment. Lawmakers last week proposed an overhaul of the voter-approved ballot law legalizing the retail sale of marijuana to adults. In amending the ballot law, lawmakers are seeking to further limit pot ads from targeting youth.
Rowe plans to return to the board with a new alcohol policy reflecting the board members' suggestions.
Steve Poftak, a board member who will take over as interim chief of the T next month, asked Rowe to also supply information on where students travel on the transit system.