Straphangers are accustomed to staring at ads while riding city subways and buses, but now they can see them every time they swipe their MetroCards.
On Sunday, October 7, the MTA started selling MetroCards with front-facing advertising for the first time announced the transit agency. It was also the first time that the MetroCard hasn’t featured its gold and yellow front with blue lettering since 1997.
The advertisement, which is on the front and back of MetroCards, is for the Gap, promoting its remodeled 34th Street flagship store. It also offers a 20 percent discount to anyone who presents the MetroCard at a local Gap retailer from now until November 18.
“Opening up the front of MetroCards to advertising gives the MTA a new source of revenue,” said MTA chairman and CEO Joseph J. Lhota. “We will monitor public acceptance of ads going forward to ensure that it doesn’t interfere with use of the transit system. There is no reason why the MTA shouldn’t put every resource it can toward helping its fragile finances.”
Approximately 10 percent of MetroCards sold each month will feature the advertisement, and will only be available at 10 Manhattan subway stations. They were selected based on their proximity to the Gap’s flagship store and their high ridership, said the MTA.
It’s not the first time, however, that MetroCards have featured advertisements. Since 1995, they have had back-facing ads.
The Gap ad is just the beginning of the MTA’s new “full-face” advertising initiative. The transit agency expects a new MetroCard advertiser in December and January, and many more to come after that time.
“Since we first announced that we would accept branded MetroCards, our phones have been ringing non-stop with inquires,” said Paul J. Fleuranges, the MTA’s senior director of corporate and internal communications.