Meet Lubbock’s first mobile billboard

Meet Lubbock's first mobile billboard

Lubbock’s first mobile billboard company is up and running after the council voted to allow them on the streets for the first time since the 1970s.
The 6-1 vote to add “Mobile Billboards” to the city code came in September. Now having gone through the permitting process, a truck run by Hubcity Mobile Billboards can be seen around town.
Michael Benson and Todd Pringle are the owners of the company, and said they’ve been well received since hitting the road a few weeks ago.
“Everyone has just been saying, ‘Wow, this is a great idea.’ We’re getting some really good response, and we’re hoping it takes off like we hoped it would,” Benson said.
The truck looks like a small moving van, except with screens about 6-by-9 feet with LED lights showing a still advertisement on both sides. It’s a single cab truck painted red and black, with “Hubcity Mobile Billboards” painted on all sides.
Their business model is just like any other sign company. Benson said they can accommodate up to 18 companies wishing to advertise at once. Each ad runs for 10 seconds and then flashes to the next one.
Peak traffic
The truck has two different routes in two separate intervals, what Benson called “campaigns.” On even-numbered days, the truck goes east and west, and on odd-numbered days, the truck goes north and south along the major thoroughfares. The morning campaign starts at 7 a.m. and goes until 2 p.m., and then the evening shift goes from 3 p.m. until 9 p.m.
“It covers the peak traffic times,” Benson said. “Obviously the morning one covers two of your peak traffic times, which is going to work and lunch time. The evening is covering the third peak time of the day.”
Weekends are set aside for special events, he said, like if someone wanted to use the truck to drive around a large gathering like a football game.
Code requirements
A mobile billboard, as defined in the ordinance, is “any vehicle for hire, including a trailer, with an illuminated or non-illuminated panel, board, screen, banner, flag, electronic device or any other type of appendage or feature, having the primary purpose to advertise, promote or draw attention to a product, service, event or other similar purpose.”
The city’s code specifies many requirements. For example, they must remain mobile except at traffic stops, they cannot emit any sound or light and they cannot operate between 3-6 a.m.
It also specifies rules for the screen: There may not be any movement or optical illusions except for less than .3 seconds between static messages, and the display of each message must be for at least 10 seconds.
The mobile billboards also require a permit set at $200 and a satisfactory inspection report.
Signs of concern
There were some concerns from citizens and councilwoman Latrelle Joy before the final vote.
Discussion directed at the council was about if the process to amend it was done properly, suggesting it should have gone through the planning and zoning commission. That way, there would be several public hearings instead of just going straight to the council.
The few people who spoke against it during citizens’ comments said the signs will be a distraction to drivers and that the city worked hard in the 1970s to adopt a strict sign ordinance because city leaders said signage had gotten so out of hand.
Joy said she’d never heard a complaint about the sign ordinance before and didn’t see the need for mobile billboards, also saying she was concerned about how it would affect drivers.
But Benson and Pringle argued that their mobile billboards are no different than the signs on the side of the road or logos printed on the sides of other vehicles.
“It’s no different than a city bus having an ad or another bussiness having an ad,” said Pringle, also saying the concerns the council did have were addressed by some of the rules in the code, like displaying the message for a minimum of 10 seconds.
Future plans
Hubcity Mobile Billboards currently has one truck, but Benson said they hope to get another if business continues to improve. Their trucks are also equipped with audio, and although they can’t emit sound on the road, he said they will also rent out the trucks to people who may want to use it for something like a big sporting event or a party.
He said the company has the ability to choose what advertisements are run, noting that advertisements for tobacco and alcohol will be turned away.