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News

Bus Ride Boredom Buster?

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The LA Times reported yesterday on the launch of the MTA's new plan to keep passengers apprised and amused while on board their buses via something called Transit TV. This week video monitors made their debut on some bus lines, broadcasting stimulating material such as trivia, news and sports headlines, and snippets of classic tv shows. The content, which seems to only be in English right now, but will eventually be shown in Spanish and other neighborhood-relevant languages, is refreshed every three hours, and, of course, includes banner ads and 15 minutes per hour of commercial time. Right now there are only two monitors; this will increase to 2,500 in the next year. While this seems like a good idea (and it's a gem of one for the MTA, since Transit TV is footing the bill and the MTA will share in a precentage of the advertising revenue) it also seems to be yet another sign that LA has yet again found a way to sell things and ideas under the guise of entertainment to captive audiences, like the same kind of screens and programming at Ralphs that started popping up in the past year or two.

According to the MTA's press release, our fair city is joining the progressive ranks of Orlando, Milwaukee, Chicago and Atlanta, whose riders reportedly give the bus ride boredom buster the thumbs-up. Our main concern (well, aside from dangerous levels of corporate and media heavy-handedness) would be vandalism, which apparently has decreased in those cities who already have the system. That and being so sucked in that you could miss your stop. The MTA hails this as a "win-win," which comes as no surprise, since they don't have to shell out a cent. We'd rather see them push for more bus and train lines, or some focus on issues of reliability. Why not start smaller, and less obtrusively, with print ads, like New York's MTA and Toronto's TTC have long espoused? We think riding the bus is entertaining enough as it is. Anyone ridden on one of these buses yet? What does everyone think?