MICHIGAN: Forget the financial meltdown on Wall Street: instead marketers might mull the opportunities offered by the vast fleets of US school buses which are finding it increasingly difficult to navigate the economic downturn and fuel price hikes.

So much so, that some local education authorities are now looking to boost their income by allowing advertising inside the iconic yellow vehicles that transport millions of the nation's kids to and from school each day.

Says Mike Gwizdala, director-transportation at Bay City public schools: "Times are hard. The fuel prices are definitely affecting all transportation, whether it's a school bus or a metro bus."

The authorities stress ads would only be displayed inside the vehicles, and would have to be age and subject appropriate.

In-bus advertising has already reached some parts of the country where messages promote local television stations, recreation centers and even the US army.

Objecters to the scheme argue youngsters are already inundated with messages throughout the day, from billboards along their bus routes, to TV commercials during their favorite programs to the logos and designer names on their clothes.

They say school authorities  should not add to the exposure, especially during a bus ride in which students are essentially a captive audience.

Comments Josh Golin, associate director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood: "Advertising on school buses exploits a powerful symbol of education and subverts parental authority by making exposure to brands compulsory."

Data sourced from Adweek (USA); additional content by WARC staff