Last night in a disgraceful vote of 7-2 (Radulovich and Raburn opposing) the Board of Directors for BART welcomed Titan Advertising to increase its ad reach by ok-ing the install of digital billboards platforms in downtown San Francisco.
Their vote is shocking for several reasons:
- Overwhelming opposition – BART received almost 200 letters from riders opposing this ad creep
- No real money – BART will spend more on bulletproof vests than they’ll make on this contract next year
- Unfair placement – Only San Francisco stations will be blighted with these digital billboards
- Degrades customer experience – While nearly impossible to tell when the next train will arrive, on BART you’ll always know about the latest videogame or movie release
On BART – Ads come first. “This is a case of the tail wagging the dog,” said Director Radulovich. He scolded BART management for giving priority placement in stations to advertisers.
“BART doesn’t know what it wants from our stations, but Titan does. It wants to put its advertisers messages in front of our customers” said Director Radulovich when questioning why placement of advertising isn’t a part of station master planning.
As Titan puts it (in this fantastic video), “in San Francisco [Titan] ads are simply unavoidable!” Given the choice people change the station, scroll down, or reach for the remote. Ads may be as unavoidable as our commute, but BART disrespects its riders and the billions that they’ve invested of their own public funds when they cozy up to advertisers.
Special thanks to Scenic East Bay for their support in raising awareness on this issue. We’ll need your attention too, dear reader. As past SF Beautiful Board President Milo Hanke put it, “This is the camel’s nose under the tent.” We expect to see more and brighter ads on our transit system in the coming years. With this Board our new BART cars will be looking like NASCAR in no time!