Selling (Out) Public Transport

June 26, 2009
Posted by Jay Livingston

Even in my early morning stupor, I couldn’t help noticing the new turnstiles at Penn Station. Where once spotless chrome gleamed, proclaiming the subway’s purity, now speaks the crass voice of commerce: There’s a sale at H&M waiting for you upstairs when you leave the station. You can get something for as little as five bucks. Cheap.

It’s not so different from the ads on the walls, I thought. Besides, it might help to keep the fare from going up too much. At least the MTA isn’t selling naming rights to the subway the way the Port Authority nearly sold the George Washington Bridge to Geico (see my old blog entry here.)

That was then. Yesterday, the MTA announced that the Atlantic Ave. Station in Brooklyn will henceforth also be known as the Barclay’s Bank station. The station is a major hub, with transfers available from at least four different subway lines. For a large British bank, the $200,000 a year is pocket change. Talk about cheap.

Oh well, at least they didn’t sell the name for my station.


maxliving said...

Apparently the only thing that's been keeping the MTA from selling more station names hasn't been their principles or fear of public backlash, it's just that companies aren't that interested in buying the rights (even before the recession). This helps explain the low price tag.

mike3550 said...

I'm surprised that Bruce Ratner didn't get the naming rights as yet another concession from ESDC as part of the Atlantic Yards development project.