New Train Tunnel Ads Irk Riders, Draw Revenue

<p>Flashing lights on the walls on train tunnels that display a 15-second video to passengers have been introduced in L.A., bringing new revenue to the area's transit agency, but bothering some riders. Some say the ads intrude on public space.</p>
May 15, 2008, 7am PDT | Nate Berg
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"On Tuesday, commercial messages on mass transit in the Southland reached a new frontier when subway riders began seeing a 15-second video floating outside the train's window in a dark tunnel near Universal City."

"'It's intrusive to me,' said passenger Roberta Richey, an actress. 'If I want to see that, I'll turn on the TV or pick up a newspaper.'"

"Reaction from most other passengers on a northbound Red Line train Tuesday morning was muted or nonexistent. The videos have no sound, and some riders didn't notice them. Others read; some slept or stared blankly ahead in the way that subway riders do."

"And others liked what they saw in the tunnel between the Hollywood and Highland and Universal City stations."

"Such video ads have become part of the subway landscape in San Francisco and New York and are even more prominent overseas."

"But they also have raised hackles among those who see the line increasingly blurring between public space and commercial messages. The selling of naming rights to stadiums and placement of billboards have been widely debated nationally but seem less controversial on mass transit."

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Published on Wednesday, May 14, 2008 in The Los Angeles Times
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