Advertising firm will build new bus shelters and street furniture

Philadelphia is finalizing a contract with the national transit advertising company Titan that will result in the replacement of all 300 of the city’s existing bus shelters. The contract will also entail the installation of 300 additional bus shelters around the city in areas with high ridership and the construction of benches at bus stops with lower ridership outside of Center City.

A contract that allows Titan to advertise on existing bus shelters and other street furniture is currently winding down and will expire at the end of this year. That contract has resulted in $1.4 million to $1.7 million in revenue to the city from the advertising program each year, according to a memo from Andrew Stober, the chief of staff for the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities.

In the spring, the city issued a request for proposals (RFP) for a new contract for advertising on street furniture. There were two respondents: Titan and a partnership between CBS Outdoor and Interstate. Titan was chosen because it had higher revenue projections and stronger goals for minority participation, according to Stober’s memo. (CBS held the contract prior to Titan taking over four years ago.)

The new contract guarantees the city at least $52.27 million over twenty years, or roughly $2.6 million per year. Titan estimates an additional $47 million to the city over the life of the contract, for a total estimate of $100 million over twenty years. Titan will make an estimated capital investment of $12.4 million, building 600 shelters in the first five years of the contract. In the first five years, the firm will also install 100 new “Art information kiosks” on municipal property, with a split between discounted arts-related ads and market-rate ads, and 100 new “Newspaper condos” to replace honor boxes. The latter may or may not include advertising.

“We have a very long list of shelter requests that we have received over the years for additional [bus] shelters,” said Andrew Stober.

That list will inform decisions about where to place new shelters, and MOTU plans to open up an additional opportunity for people to request street furniture. The decisions will also be based on ridership levels.

Why is it necessary to replace the existing shelters?

“Have you looked at the shelters, Stober asked?” said Stober. “They’re at least 20 years old, even older than that. They’ve lived well beyond their useful life.”

Local architecture firm DIGSAU contracted with Titan to design the street furniture. (PlanPhilly has requested the designs.)

Twenty to 25 percent of the work for Design, Fabrication and Installation as well as Operations and Maintenance will be performed by Minority-owned Business Enterprises (MBE), according to the memo; 10 to 15 percent will be performed by Women-owned Business Enterprises (WBE).  

The city previously issued an RFP for a 20-year contract to replace and construct bus shelters in 2010, but did not receive satisfactory responses. It has operated on short-term contracts since that time.

Both Titan and CBS Outdoor lobby actively in Philadelphia. CBS Outdoor spent $10,864 on communications with the Mayor’s office and Councilman Bobby Henon in the fourth quarter of 2013, according to city records. Titan spent $15,471 monitoring various advertising-related bills in City Council during the same period, according to records.

A bill authorizing the contract was introduced in City Council last week.

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