Video Ads in the Subway and Ads on Sides of LIRR Cars Are Latest MTA Effort to Increase Revenues

Novel forms of advertising are being introduced on the subway and the Long Island Rail Road as part of the MTA's efforts to increase revenue from advertising.

On the subway, the inside and outside of a train serving the 42nd Street Shuttle (S) are fully wrapped with advertisements promoting TBS' coverage of Major League Baseball's 2010 postseason. While subway car wraps have become increasingly popular with advertisers, this campaign is the first to make use of moving images. Video screens inside the subway cars are showing replays of the previous night's baseball highlights.

And for what is believed to be the first time since railroading began in the New York City region in the 1830s, the exteriors of commuter trains are displaying advertising. Fifty of the Long Island Rail Road's 836 M-7 train cars are displaying ads that begin at the level of the doors' floors and extend up to the bottom of the cars' windows. These cars travel through the most heavily used portions of the Long Island Rail Road, from Penn Station and Atlantic Terminal to Babylon, Ronkonkoma, Huntington, Port Washington, Long Beach, Hempstead, Far Rockaway and West Hempstead. The ads, promoting Cablevision's Optimum WiFi, are visible to customers boarding the trains on platforms as well as passing motorists and pedestrians. If this three-month trial of LIRR exterior advertising is successful, the MTA and LIRR will consider extending the program to more LIRR cars with the help of advertising contractor CBS Outdoor.

"The MTA earns more than $100 million per year from sales of advertising space, mostly through traditional print media, but this traditional advertising has suffered as a result of the recession," said MTA Chairman Jay Walder. "Our uncertain finances mean that we have to think creatively to maximize the value of our physical assets. One way we are doing that is by creating more dynamic advertising opportunities."

Among the MTA's recent or planned initiatives designed to increase ad revenue are station domination campaigns in which advertisers are invited to take over entire stations and digital displays on trains, buses and stations. The MTA has also explored 3D images and in-tunnel advertising.