April 2, 2015
A federal court judge presiding over a dispute between the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) and a group seeking to purchase advertising space on SEPTA vehicles has ruled the agency must accept the ads, even if they contain messages that may be disparaging to riders and agency employees.
After careful consideration, SEPTA has decided not to appeal this
ruling. The agency’s policy was revised in October 2014 to allow SEPTA
to reject these types of ads without violating the First Amendment.
However, this policy change was made after the American Freedom Defense
Initiative's (AFDI) initial request to purchase advertising space and is
not applicable in the matter.
Consequently, AFDI has executed a contact with SEPTA's advertising
management agency, Titan, to purchase advertising space on the side
panel of 84 SEPTA buses. The ads will contain what some may view as
anti-Muslim messages. These vehicles will be placed in normal inventory
rotation throughout the SEPTA service area. The ads will begin appearing
on vehicles during the first week of April for a four-week period.
"We understand that our decision to not file an appeal will be
disappointing to those who will be forced to view the disparaging ads,"
said SEPTA GM Joseph M. Casey.
"We are aware that the presence of the ads could anger the public, but
caution that attempts to vandalize the ads or deface SEPTA vehicles will
not be tolerated."
SEPTA has apologized to its riders and urged them to comment or voice
their concerns by completing a SEPTA Customer Service comment form.