MTA Looking To Ads To Add Financial Muscle

We all know the MTA is in deep trouble on the financial front. So any source of income is seen as a good thing to them. The current sector they hope to make even more money in is advertising. The agency which made $106 million dollars last year from advertising projects to earn $110 million this year. Even with this, they are still looking for more ways to make money from advertising opportunities throughout the system. Pete Donohue of the New York Daily News has more with this report:

Advertisements encroaching deeper into the MTA’s vast transportation network of tracks, tunnels and stations, producing record revenues.

Ad-generated income totaled $106 million last year, up from $90 million the previous year, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said.

That figure is expected to top $110 million this year as the MTA continues to test new strategies to capture the attention of riders – including projecting commercials onto subway station walls in the line of vision of passengers standing on platforms.

After years of consideration, the MTA this year also will test the placement of ads on tunnel walls between stations that would unfold like a flip book or silent movie as a train rolls by, officials said.

“It’s high priority of ours,” MTA CEO Elliot Sander said. “We’ve made strong progress in generating new revenues, which is critical, given the MTA’s challenging financial circumstances. We’ve done a very good job with this.”

The MTA faces a 2009 budget gap that Sander previously said could be as high as $700 million, largely because the economic downturn has meant sharply falling tax-generated subsidies. As a result, fare and toll hikes will be necessary unless the state allocates more money to mass transit, transportation officials have said.

Several riders said they didn’t mind the level of commercialism. The various forms of billboards “actually makes it look better,” said Shanique Varlack, 17, a college student from Queens, adding that stations can be pretty dingy. “It’s brighter and it’s better than just looking at walls,” she said.

A standard option in the “station domination” advertising package the MTA offers is the use of overhead projectors to display images on the walls of subway passageways. After a successful pilot project in the Union Square subway station, two overhead projectors are used in the passageway linking the Lexington Ave. subway lines to the shuttle at Grand Central Terminal.

When the beam is interrupted by a straphanger walking through the tunnel, one image melts away and is replaced by a second touting the same product, currently a cable television show.

“It’s pretty nice, interesting,” said James Cross, 37, a messenger from Brooklyn. “You can look at it and try to figure out what it is.”

Ads have also reached into the area where passengers board Metro-North trains on the upper level of the railroad’s terminal. Posters and billboards are plastered against the walls, hung above platforms and across railings bordering the slots where tracks come to an end.

A monitor to broadcast advertisements is also above one Metro-North platform in

The thought of advertisements dominating the transit landscape conjures different emotions depending on who you ask. I for one am not bothered by the thought of more advertisements if it brought some financial relief to the agency. While the thought of a branded subway car is not the most appealing thing, I can look past it as the agency’s finances are more important than what I feel visually as a transit buff.

I do wonder about one thing though. Is the MTA doing enough to capitalize on the advertising opportunities? While it is nice that the agency projects higher earnings this year, the difference from last year seems small from what it was from 2006 to 2007. With the amount of subway stations alone, I would think they should make more than $4 million from the previous year. When you factor in the space from their buses, commuter railroads & such, the # should be even higher. Hopefully this will be the case in the near future.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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[…] under every rock to find ways to bring more money in. Last month I wrote about their plan of looking to ads to add financial muscle. Today’s edition of AMNY features an article by transportation writer Matthew Sweeney which […]

[…] far as more advertising in the subway, I will reiterate my feelings from an earlier post: The thought of advertisements dominating the transit landscape conjures different emotions […]

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