UPDATE: Controversial ads on the sides of buses and trains

Drew Blevins is TriMet’s Director of Marketing and Customer Information.

Recently I shared some information about the ad featuring the headline “Palestinian Loss of Land” that is currently posted on some TriMet vehicles. What appears to be a response ad—with the headline “In any War Between the Civilized Man and the Savage, Support the Civilized Man”—will start showing up on some TriMet vehicles this week.

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These are the controversial ads you may see on the sides of TriMet buses and trains.

In the past, TriMet’s advertising policy has only allowed ads that were commercial in nature, defined by the promotion of goods or services. Non-commercial ads were not allowed, as we didn’t want to open our doors to all advertisements. A 2008 Multnomah County Circuit Court ruling concluded that our advertising policy could not limit the categories of advertising accepted. The Oregon Supreme Court is now reviewing that decision. TriMet has asked the Court to treat us like any other entrepreneurial advertising media and to allow us to make reasonable determinations as to the categories of advertising we will accept. While awaiting the Court’s decision, TriMet is in the unfortunate position of having to accept all advertising.

We acknowledge that ads like these, indeed, make things challenging for everyone. We began to permit advertising on TriMet buses and trains to create a source of revenue for the good of TriMet and our customers. While TriMet supports our constitutions and the free speech they ensure, we recognize that our purpose is to unite our communities through transit. We are disappointed that the sides of our buses and trains have become a medium for divisive discussions, and we apologize to you. We hope that when the Oregon Supreme Court decides the case that we will once again be allowed to limit advertising to commercial goods and services.

Drew Blevins

About Drew Blevins

I am TriMet's Director of Marketing and Customer Information. I manage the agency's customer information services through an integrated approach to retaining and increasing customers by positioning our transit system as simple to understand, easy to use, reliable, innovative and friendly. Our team is responsible for outreach and promotion, customer research, creative services, websites and interactive media, and on-street service information.