Sunday, February 25, 2024

As demand for bus ads increase, so do WAVE’s opportunities to improve service

Wave Transit offers local business a chance to advertise on the interior and exterior of buses in Wilmington
Wave Transit offers local business a chance to advertise on the interior and exterior of buses in Wilmington

WILMINGTON — You may have been there – stuck in the infamous Wilmington traffic, moseying a car down Military Cutoff Road when out of nowhere, a giant billboard rolls past in the form of a Wave Transit bus. While the ads are important to the company promoting its product, these advertisements are also helping the residents of New Hanover County and the City of Wilmington.

It all started in 2004 when Wilmington and New Hanover County decided to merge the already existing public transportation systems to create the Cape Fear Public Transportation Authority, better known as Wave Transit. About five years ago Wave began offering advertising on the sides and rear of its buses, Deputy Director of Wave Transit Megan Mathney said.

Advertising for Wave increased 30 percent from Fiscal Year 2016 to 2017, as more advertisers begin to see the value of a “moving billboard.”

Advertising revenue allows Wave Transit access to funds that have no strings attached she said. Currently Wave receives funding from several different sources including the Federal Transportation Administration, the North Carolina Department of Transportation, and local funding from municipalities and the county – this means tax payers’ money.

Wave also receives funding by charging its nearly 90,000 monthly riders a fare per trip, but the bulk of revenues comes from the previously listed sources.

The advertising revenue provides Wave with additional funding that can be used for things that would normally not be affordable, like grants from the government that require a local matching of funds, she said.

Mathney said there are talks of setting aside some of the revenue to create a general fund, something that the transportation agency has not had in the past 13 years.

Advertising for Wave increased 30 percent from Fiscal Year 2016 to 2017, as more advertisers begin to see the value of a “moving billboard.” The buses for Wave Transit operate seven days a week and offers advertisers a chance to have their product seen all around the Greater Wilmington area giving advertisers better visibility, Mathney said.

Wave is also in the process of replacing and upgrading several bus stop shelters and benches throughout the service area as part of a five-year bus stop enhancement plan. These revenues from advertising can help provide new facilities for Wave riders.

Wave is also in the process of building a new transfer station in downtown Wilmington, she said.

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