Metro to limit type of advertisements on buses

King County Metro on Friday implemented a new transit advertising policy that allows for the resumption of ads from nonprofit organizations, while defining the political and public issue advertising that will continue to be prohibited as a matter of department policy.

The new policy replaces an interim policy instituted on Dec. 23, which prohibited non-commercial advertising.

Metro’s new Transit Advertising Policy states that the primary purpose of the county’s transit system is to provide safe and efficient transportation for the public, and that the fundamental purpose in accepting transit advertising is to generate revenue to support that service.

The policy clarifies that the county’s acceptance of transit advertising does not provide or create a general public forum for expressive activities, and that by accepting ads, the county does not intend to convert its buses or facilities into open public forums for public discourse and debate.

In general, the new policy will permit:

• Commercial and promotional advertising.

• Public service announcements sponsored by government entities and nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporations.

Among the classes of advertising that will or continue to be prohibited under the new policy are:

• Political advertising promoting or opposing a political party; the election of any candidate or group of candidates for federal, state or local government offices; and initiatives, referendums and other ballot measures.

• Public issue advertising expressing or advocating an opinion, position or viewpoint on matters of public debate about economic, political, religious or social issues.

• A number of listed products, services or activities including tobacco, alcohol, the sale of firearms, and adult/mature material.

As before, all advertising must be reviewed and accepted by Metro’s transit advertising contractor, with final approval resting with the Transit Division general manager.

The full Transit Advertising Policy, signed by the Metro Transit general manager, can be found online at

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