There's no such thing as a free ride. The popularity of the City of Miami's 2-year-old free trolley system has surpassed expectations, but so has its budget. Though the city allocated $2.36 million a year to the system, operating costs are closer to about $3.8 million. So to fill the gap, the city commission had approved a plan to add advertisements to the side of the orange and green trolleys, according to Miami Today.
Last Thursday, the commission voted to allow the city manager to negotiate a contract to Van Wagner Miami LLC for a two-year trial period to test advertising on the sides of the buses. Afterward, the manager could authorize four one-year extensions. The advertising program is expected to bring in about $425,000 a year.
Not all commissioners were excited about the program.
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"I don't like the advertisement. However, if it brings in revenue... I may have to bite my tongue and do it," said Commissioner Frank Carollo, who preferred that the system remained "cute."
However, the costs of the system aren't expected to get cheaper anytime soon. Though the system is only 2 years old, upkeep on the vehicles is expensive and replacing them might begin in as little as five to seven years.
The commission seems adamant about keeping the system free but always has the option to institute a fare structure down the road.