Washington’s subway system is slowly falling apart. After 30 years the Metro is showing its age. The system needs a huge overhaul. But with no extra cash that’s becoming harder to accomplish. I’m already paying $6 a day to ride the subway back and forth to work. My commutes are overcrowded and prone to frequent technical breakdowns. Without additional support I will soon be paying more –a lot more.
For years the Metro rejected any thought of allowing commercial ads for additional revenue. Architecturally it is a beautiful transit system, one subway officials felt shouldn’t be sullied with advertisements. But as it began to bulge at its seams the administration considered new ways to bring in needed money.
Last fall the Metro began to wrap train cars in large scale billboards. I might find myself riding home in a car sheathed in a thin veil of plastic advertising Chevy Chase Bank. Yesterday marked the debut of its second new revenue stream: animated commercials in subway tunnels.
Using a take on a 19th century technology, the zoetrope, in the tunnel between the Gallery Place and Judiciary Square stations suddenly I was watching a movie outside my window: an ad for the Lincoln Zephyr. One hundred and thirty-nine backlit stills quickly passed by my window: a flipbook underground. It was a bit surreal for no one had announced this matinee. My iPod was playing Zero 7’s “On the Waiting Line” and the music synced with the visuals perfectly.