Say goodbye to the white buses with the green, yellow and red stripes. Pasco's buses soon will be wrapped in ads for a local roofer, a contractor and maybe even a big-name sportswear brand.
The first ads — for Hudson businesses Farrell Roofing and Greg Henry Restoration — went on buses this week. Both companies signed yearlong contracts to fully wrap the outside of a bus, which costs $5,000 a month. Of that, the county gets a $650 cut each month.
"It's a great venue for us — it's a moving billboard," said Greg Henry, owner of the restoration company that fixes up homes and businesses damaged in a storm or accident. The wraps are similar to those offered on buses in Pinellas and Hillsborough.
Henry's business and Farrell Roofing previously had their company vehicles wrapped by Hudson-based Black Jack Media, which won the contract to sell advertising for the county buses.
"Most of our advertising is our vehicles," said Steve Farrell, owner of the roofing company. "The bus is a little bit larger than our vehicles, and I think that will work well."
Black Jack's sales manager Regan Weiss said it takes seven people about eight hours to completely wrap a bus. The adhesive material is first applied to the bus before a torch molds it to the vehicle.
Businesses also can place ads on interior placards or on a portion of the outside of a bus. Weiss said the "prime real estate" is the back of a bus, which is seen by hundreds of drivers sitting in traffic. There will be a spot on the back for an interchangeable message, such as an ice cream shop promoting a flavor of the month.
County commissioners signed a contract a month ago that guarantees the county will receive $1 million from the ads over five years. That schedule gave Black Jack three months to put the first ad on a bus.
"It sounds like they're preparing to move more quickly than that, which is great," said Mike Carroll, director of Pasco County Public Transportation.
Carroll praised the program for raising money for the bus system while also giving local businesses another advertising option. He said he will try to put the newly wrapped buses on major routes such as U.S. 19, but he can't guarantee a particular route. Two-thirds of the county's fleet is based in west Pasco.
The contract calls for Black Jack to sell advertising on the county's entire fleet — 25 passenger buses and 11 paratransit buses — by the end of next year. Monthly revenue will go up each year until 2015, when the company pays the county $850 per bus and $90 per paratransit vehicle.
Besides the first two customers, Weiss said he has "a number of leads coming in," including Nike and the Tampa Bay Storm arena football team. Also look for local doctors' ads to begin popping up on buses.
The county won't accept several types of ads, most notably from lawyers and politicians. Also banned are: alcohol, tobacco, adult entertainment, massage parlors, pawn shops, tattoo parlors and check cashing services.
Lee Logan can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 869-6236.