Television monitors showing news, route information and advertisements may soon become a familiar sight on transit buses around major U.S. cities.
Itec Entertainment Corp., an entertainment and technology design company, and Orbital Sciences Corp., a mass transit tracking system supplier, joined to provide bus riders on Lynx in Orlando, Fla., an entertaining and informative alternative to staring out the window.
The primary function of the monitors is to make stop announcements and track bus routes between stops. They also offer content such as news, weather, entertainment and games.
The project also provides an opportunity to present an array of ads. “We bring to the table a whole new level of ad revenue for the transit authorities,” said Daniel West, vice president of business development for Itec. “Our customers include Atlantic Records, the Marines and other major players that would typically not think of buying advertising from a transit company.”
The venture started when Itec and Orbital signed a 10-year contract with Lynx and began a pilot program in March 2000. Lynx currently has the monitors installed on 10 buses and is in negotiation to install the screens on all 230 buses.
“It’s catching on real fast, and we expect it to expand in the near future,” said Sheldon Watson, spokesman for Lynx. “We get favorable comments from all parties involved.”
As a pilot program, Lynx is not incurring any costs. Itec receives all of the advertising revenue and, until they reach the point where they profit on their capital expenses, they will continue to get all of the advertising dollars, Watson said. After that point, Lynx will split revenue with Itec.
Each 40-foot bus is equipped with three television monitors. To install the technology, it costs about $11,000 per bus. An entire system consists of an automated wireless tracking device, flat-screen TV monitors and a network of speakers.
The TV content is primarily created on a daily basis in Itec’s Orlando studios. Some of it is also drawn from various wire sources around the nation. Among the programs shown are local and international news reports, trivia questions and nature documentaries.
Although they have not released specifics, Itec and Orbital indicate that they are in negotiations with several other cities. “I would expect us to have anywhere around 10 new customers by the end of the year,” West said.