A push to allow advertisements on city buses in Honolulu has hit a speed bump.
The City Council Budget Committee deferred Bill 69, choosing to wait and see Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s budget for the upcoming year.
Opponents of Bill 69 believe advertisements on The Bus will ruin the beauty of Hawaii.
"The idea of going against billboards and large signs is we want to preserve the natural beauty here. We don't want to be like every other city in the country," said Henry Curtis of the non-profit environment group Life of the Land.
But city officials believe the benefits outweigh the costs.
"I've never met anyone from who comes back from the mainland and has used the bus system and said the advertising on them is horrendous and a visual blight. It just doesn't happen," said Department of Transportation Services Director Mike Formby.
It costs $230 million to operate The Bus annually, according to the Department of Transportation Services.
A city spokesperson says $100 million of that is subsidized by the city each year.
According to the Caldwell administration, new ads placed on the exterior of buses could generate up to $8 million annually and lead to significant improvements for people who use The Bus everyday.
"Over 20 years, that's $160 million. I don't think anyone will look back in hindsight and say we should have left that money on the table,” said Formby.
“As that money comes in, we are going to be looking to restore bus routes or enhance bus routes in areas that we have gotten a lot of requests,” said Mayor Caldwell.
Opponents including the non-profit group Outdoor Circle believe allowing advertisements on buses could open the floodgates for advertising elsewhere.
“We agree there’s a need to improve bus services, but we don't believe its necessary to weaken sign laws and undermine our scenic beauty to do it,” said Marti Townsend of Outdoor Circle.
The only committee member who voted against deferring the bill was Council member Stanley Chang.
He supports Mayor Caldwell's plan to move Bill 69 into the fast lane and send it back to the full council, which will likely re-visit the issue when the Mayor presents his budget in March.