I was kind of surprised some weeks ago when I walked into the Hollywood/Highland Metro station and saw that the place was plastered with ads for a new line of cars from Ford. Not that I was surprised to see advertising in a Metro station. That’s become pretty routine, and even though I think some of the ads are intrusive and obnoxious, I’ve accepted it because I know the MTA needs the revenue
But advertising cars at subway stops? Isn’t that sending mixed messages to Metro riders? I thought we were supposed to be discouraging Angelenos from driving and encouraging them to take public transit. I don’t know how many subway riders will go out and buy cars because of this campaign, but Ford must think they can line up some customers or they wouldn’t have spent the money.
This seems especially troubling at a time when transit ridership is dropping. Nobody’s sure exactly why this is happening, but with many MTA lines seeing a decline in the number of riders, do we really want to be tempting the people who do ride the subway with ads for affordable cars?
I know the MTA is dealing with an operating deficit, and the ad revenue is probably really helpful, but I still have to question the wisdom of this strategy. It used to be the MTA was telling us, “Dump your car. Ride public transit.” Now it seems the message is, “Go ahead and get a car. We give up.”