The MTA is getting serious about trying to make sure it is making maximum money—and considering their ongoing financial problems we aren't complaining. Still, the Authority's latest scheme is definitely going to piss some people off: Starting soon, advertisements are going to start appearing on the front of your MetroCards.
"Millions of New Yorkers carry MetroCards with them everywhere they go, and use them multiple times a day," MTA Chairman Joe Lhota said in a release announcing the news. "For those with a message and a desire to reach millions of people in a novel, attention-getting way, there is no better way to advertise."
The news comes as the MTA has been bumping up its advertising sales, with expanded subway ad sales, more full exterior and interior wraps, digital ads on top of subway stops and the like. In addition to opening up the front of cards to advertisers, the MTA is reducing the cost of buying an ad. MetroCard ad buys are available for runs of anywhere between 50,000 to 5,000,000 and can cost between $.18 and $.51 per card, depending on how big a run.
This Gothamist's late grandmother used to vocally insist that the MTA should be entirely free and supported by advertising (hello, captive audience!) so our gut says this is a great idea. If you don't like the ads, just keep the card in your wallet.
Meanwhile, the MTA notes that this is the first time the front of the MetroCard has been messed with since the current iteration was released on July 4, 1997 as the "MetroCard Gold." The difference between the "MetroCard Blue" and the "MetroCard Gold" being that the latter allowed free system-wide transfers between the buses and subways. Speaking of, anybody remember these commercials? Is that Mandy Patinkin narrating?