More Bad Calls from the NY MTA

The New York MTA, in collaboration with CBS Outdoor, wants to cover the windows of subway cars with advertising. This story at the NYTimes Cityroom blog is peppered with rationalizations from the MTA. Here’s one of my favorites:

“[T]ransit officials say that advertising revenue is not the main motivation for the program.”

(Transit officials, not CBS Outdoor.)

They say the primary motivator is “to reduce what officials call ‘scratchiti,’ or scratched graffiti on the windows…. Scrachitti is a major vandalism problem in the subways, costing the system more than $2.5 million a year to replace the glass and covering it with protective Mylar”

So the MTA would like to replace one form of graffiti with another, from Coke. The result is essentially the same, messages which cover the windows. Except the MTA has an aesthetic leaning toward the imagery of Coke as opposed to a few scratches that read “ZERO.” The Coke ads would be on every window and cover the windows entirely. Which is more obtrusive?

This must be the least creative, most ironic way of dealing with the “scratchiti problem” I can imagine. The MTA seems to be bending over backwards to find new ways and new excuses to work with outdoor advertising companies.

Paul J. Fleuranges, a spokesman for New York City Transit, said the agency hoped that the film, called Scotchcal, would cut down on the frequency of scratchitti.

Graffiti is all about innovation! The Scotchcal can be written on and torn off the same way the vinyl ads in the subway station are right now. The only silver lining is that Poster Boy will have a new forum and material to work with.

What can you do?

Railfan is encouraging riders to email the MTA and let them know what you think – this is a pilot program after all. (I suggest mailing them your junk mail as well.) He suggests emailing the above image, as the MTA didn’t quite get it at first.

What else? We can demand a moratorium on new public advertising as was done in San Francisco last year.

But but but, the city is broke!

“But the city is broke and this is a way it can make money,” you might be thinking. As I’ve mentioned before, advertising creeping into more public spaces should be off the table as a way to generate revenue. Overwhelming public spaces with advertising decreases livability – Times Square is fun to look at, but no one wants to live there. The city can do plenty that will increase revenue while increasing livability by increasing fines for illegal advertising and finally enforcing billboard regulations as well as increasing parking meter rates to raise $5 billion, just as an example.

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One Comment

  1. cycjec says:

    This is not a Good Idea. Sorta turns the
    passenger cars into freight cars.
    Speaking of enclosed spaces, here’s a msg
    from the freemendo blog sometime in Nov 2007
    Lockdown, lockdown, lockdown no No NO.
    Some of the kids in Beslan ran, and all of
    them lived. (that’s from memory though)
    Not in a school. Not in a mall (See the entry
    for Tukwila Mall, same blog.

  2. […] More Bad Calls from the NY MTA This makes me angry | 2010 | Anti-Advertising Agency ← Previous Next → […]

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  • By Michael Mandiberg | This makes me angry on December 14, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    […] More Bad Calls from the NY MTA This makes me angry | 2010 | Anti-Advertising Agency ← Previous Next → […]

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