The thing that pushed me into writing forty articles about transit usability was when Metro Transit Minneapolis, St Paul Minnesota covered the buses with advertising wraps that made it impossible to see out the windows of the bus. It was difficult to know when to exit as there were no references from the street and the ride became extremely unpleasant and even dangerous because some wraps blocked drivers views. Metro Transit then came up with a policy that wraps would only cover half the windows and certain windows near the driver and the doors would not be wrapped. All seemed better but now it looks like lobbying and money triumph over safety and usability and light rail (LRT) apparently has no such restrictions and complete wraps of trains are now allowed. The same old externalized costs of advertisers to the users of transit are now shoved on to LRT riders, the degraded usability and degraded safety. I am sick and tired of this charade of ignorance put on by non-transit using jerks that call themselves board members and management at Metro Transit and the Metro Council. The same old tunes of "you can see right through the window" and "we get revenue". They obviously do not ride in transit with advertisement covered windows, it must be hard to take the LRT while driving an SUV.
Here is an advertising proposal: I want these Metro Council and Metro Transit board members and managers full body tattooed with advertisements, even the pupils of their eyeballs should be covered in ads. They should walk around naked and barefoot so we can see every one of those ads all the time even at 20 degrees below zero. I think they are wasting revenue that we the public should extract out of their hides, they get paid for being at Metro Transit and I only want to recover some of that wasted tax money. I am sure the minor annoyances they would experience, a bit of a chill and some minor blindness is pretty small considering the fantastic revenue upside. Certainly a plus is that only a few top officials would be negatively affected, the rest of the population gets a fantastic benefit of a new income stream. Externalized costs should be felt at the policy and administration level before being foisted on the public.
Why does Metro Transit try to degrade service and drive down ridership? The answer is that the current bosses are Governor appointments of privatizers of public resources who look at public transit as a service that must be shrunk and exploited for private gain and not expanded or used for the public good. The current trend in ridership is sharply up. They have been told their job is stopping this excess demand. What better way than degrading peoples experience on a train than by making it a "subway" experience with the windows covered over with advertisements to simulate a tunnel that never ends. Even at the stops it is impossible to see anything as one stop looks just like another, wow, they can even save on signs at the stops now because no one can see anything. I suggest importing the interior design look of NYC subways from the late 1970s, scratch the interior windows with glass cutters, cut back on cleaning, break some seats, enhance revenue by hiring muggers that give a cut of the take to Metro Transit management (Note to Governor Pawlenty: call it a license fee, not a tax). Soon no one will take the train, "excess demand" problem solved.
So uncover the LRT windows already. These are trains used to move people. These are my trains that my taxes and fares pay for, the trains are not billboards. If a company wants to cover a train window in advertisements they can buy their own set of tracks and trains. The public does not need to bear the externalized costs of advertising when it interferes with using transit.
Transit Usability Articles