Alex Goldmark is the senior producer of Note to Self, a storytelling show about how technology is changing society. Subscribe here to get Note to Self shows delivered right to your devices. Follow him on Twitter @alexgoldmark.
NY Subways Replacing Poetry With Service Update Ads
Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 06:57 PM
(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) The Metropolitan Transportation Administration for the New York City area is removing poetry from the subway ad spaces.
The MTA is replacing Train of Thought (seen above) with a new ad campaign designed to communicate subway service advisories and improvements to straphangers. Goodbye, Kafka and Herodotus; hello MTA service advisories.
An MTA spokesman said there wasn't enough room in subway cars for both the literary placards and the ads that the agency wants to run touting the work they're doing.
“There’s a small percentage of ad space in the subway and bus and commuter rail system that’s reserved for the MTA,” Jeremy Soffin said. “We use it to communicate with our customers.We don’t advertise on television or in the newspapers, so this is it the one bit of space that doesn’t cost anything and we can use it to tell our customers what we’re doing in the system.”
He added that it was time for a change. “We’re overhauling how we’re doing business, and we’re taking the same approach to this space.”
It's the first time in 18 years subways have not made room for some form of literary musings and thoughtful straphangers like Manhattan's Tom Murphy is sorry to see them go.
"I see them and I appreciate them,” Murphy said. “It gives people a voice and there's room and it’s a noisy city. And anything that touches your heart and moves you in a different way is good for everybody."
The feature, not noticed by all on their travels, is something that Janet Dunne -- also from Manhattan -- suspects she will miss.
"It’s something I think that will be more noticed when it's taken away -- that you don't have that respite from being sold things or the big bustle," Dunne said.
WNYC has a suggestion. Why not combine the two? If the MTA doesn't have space for both literature and service updates, do them together.
Can you combine the wisdom of Thucydides with an announcement of signal work on the C line? Marry the wit of Mark Twain with the rehabilitation of the Dyckman Street 1 train platform?
WNYC reporter Jim O'Grady gets the ball rolling with his Dante-esque ode:
In the middle of the journey of my life,
I find myself astray in a dark wood,
Where the straight way has been lost...
...But really I'm just in the
Underground warren that is
Fulton Street station
As it undergoes a massive reconstruction
With Phase Four scheduled for completion
In March 2012
Take it away, New Yorkers. Comment below! Or update or post them to WNYC. There are already a couple transit poems from readers posted.