Originally created 03/15/97

No Free Ride



Public transit buses now carry a message as they rumble down major roads in Augusta.

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Soon, television and radio personalities such as Jill Kelly and Charlie James from WKBG-FM (107.7) will tell you to watch or listen to their stations. Culpepper Ford will be announcing its new location off Interstate 20.

Similar to big cities, the Augusta Public Transit buses are now carrying advertising. But the money is being raised to offset a nearly 50-percent cut in federal funding, an estimated $300,000, and to keep the bus line from cutting routes or hiking fares.

"It's actually pretty funny to think someone's sitting there and (our faces) roll by,"Ms. Kelly said.

The program, which local businessman Allen Childs calls "Adopt A Bus," is an alternative for the transit system to raise money, despite recent cuts in federal funds, said Heyward Johnson, director of the transit system.

The rate is $200 per panel, and the contracts are for one year. The ads can rotate on buses and can be changed whenever the client wants, Mr. Childs said.

"It's real big in the other markets. This is just a real good means to advertise. Your message is a moving billboard," he said.

Mr. Childs agreed in February to pay the city $6,030 a month for three years if they allowed him to sell space to local and national advertisers.

Mr. Culpepper saw bus advertising as a way to tell Augusta about his car dealership's new location.

Other advertisers to be featured on the buses this month include attorney Terry Leiden and WAGA (Channel 26). Potential businesses to buy space include Hooters, WFXA (Foxie 103) and Gary's Hamburgers.

But don't expect to see ads for Calvin Klein underwear, Joe Camel or Absolut vodka on the buses.

Tobacco, alcohol and "anything not in good taste with the community," will not be allowed, Mr. Johnson said.



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