Front-facing ads debut on N.Y. Metrocards

Posted on October 9, 2012

New York MTA subway station agents and MetroCard vending machines began selling MetroCards displaying a front-facing advertisement for the first time Monday.

The ad appearing on the cards was purchased by The Gap, the iconic clothing retailer.  

Advertisements have appeared on the rear face of MetroCards since 1995; but in July, the MTA announced that it would itself begin selling commercial advertising space on MetroCards rather than hiring an intermediary, and that it would offer space on the fronts of MetroCards for the first time. The Gap advertisement fills all available space on both the front and rear of the cards.

“Opening up the front of MetroCards to advertising gives the MTA a new source of revenue,” said MTA Chairman/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% of the MetroCards sold throughout the system in a typical month will carry the Gap ad. The Gap MetroCards are available at station booths and MetroCard vending machines at 10 stations, which were selected based on their proximity to the Gap’s flagship store and their high ridership.

The MTA anticipates that the next full-face advertising campaigns will appear on MetroCards in December and January. Future MetroCard advertising campaigns will include the word “MetroCard” on the back of the card, flush right in the white space above the zone available for advertising. The purpose of that logo will be to remove any doubt a customer could have about what he or she was purchasing.
The blue-on-gold design used on standard MetroCards has remained unchanged since July 4, 1997, when MTA New York City Transit introduced free transfers between subways and buses, and officially began accepting MetroCard as a form of fare payment at all subway stations and on all buses. The design on the earliest MetroCards, first introduced in 1993, featured gold letters on blue backgrounds, the inverse of the colors used today.

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