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Council committee resurrects bus ad bill

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    This Jan. 16, 2014 photo shows Mayor Kirk Caldwell (left) and City Councilwoman Kymberly Pine (far left), Department of Transportation Services Director Mike Formby and City Councilman Stanley Chang at a news conference to show where ads on TheBus will be placed on the back of a bus if a bill allowing bus ads becomes law.

A controversial bill to allow advertising on the outside of city buses was resurrected by the City Council’s Budget Committee Wednesday.

Bill 69 advanced out of the committee at the behest of Mayor Kirk Caldwell, who projects the plan would bring in up to $8 million annually to the cash-strapped city, and despite the strong objections of the Outdoor Circle of Hawaii.

The bill is far from final passage, however. Council Chairman Ernie Martin and Councilman Joey Manahan said they don’t like the idea of creating precedent by allowing ads on the sides of buses. Two more votes of the full Council are needed before the plan can go to Caldwell’s desk for his signature.

Marti Townsend, Outdoor Circle executive director, said allowing bus ads was a slippery slope, and would make it easier for other "mobile" ads to be placed on the sides of commercial vehicles.

But Council members who supported the bill said there’s a need to at least consider seriously a plan to add revenues for bus service that does not require raising taxes or bus fares.

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