Thursday, October 25, 2012

Hooray! MTA Breaching Contract With Ratner Removes “Barclays” From Subway Station Names

MTA's ad for new map app that is sans "Barclays"
     'Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished.

        From Hamlet’s “To be, or not to be” soliloquy.  (Hamlet Act III, Scene 1.)

Sometimes when you allow yourself to hope for things you might actually see what you are hoping for come true!

The MTA needs to unwind the deal it made that has plastered the name of notorious scandal associated “Barclays” Bank on two subway hub stations in its system and associated maps and signs.  Among other things, this advertising for the bank puts the MTA in the very awkward position of appearing to endorse the bank’s infamously antisocial activities.  (See Noticing New York’s testimony before the MTA: Thursday, September 27, 2012, Noticing New York Public Comment At Today's MTA Board Meeting On the Subject Of MTA's Devoting Public Assets To Advertising.  See also: Wednesday, September 26, 2012, Promoting Obfuscation of What Government Does and Doesn’t Do To Give The Private Sector (Including Ratner) More Credit.)

 In general, the MTA should cut way back on its dismaying efforts to max out advertising in the system.  The naming of subway stations after corporations, most conspicuously represented at present by the poorly handled naming of subway hub stations after “Barclay” Bank for which the MTA got a mere far-below-market pittance, is just the best current example of what is wrong.  Advertising revenues supporting the MTA system are absolutely minimal: More than 99% of the system is paid for by sources of funds other than advertising.  See:  Monday, September 17, 2012, NY Times Runs 3rd Article Mentioning That, Given Scandal, Promotionally Naming Subway Stations & Arena “Barclays” Is Problematic.

Well, yesterday I noticed that the MTA, despite its contractual obligation to Ratner to put the “Barclays” name on the subway stations, (including when the stations appear on system maps) has removed “Barclays” from the station names!  It came up in the context of advertising in which the MTA was advertising itself with ads within its own system.  The MTA has a new mobile device map app. (I guess mobile device map apps are in our future to replace paper system maps.)
Close up on missing "Barclays"
In an ad for the map app the MTA ("The Weekender . . to go") chose to prominently display two important subway stations in the system.  Probably because they are so important they chose to display the stations renamed “Barclays” but (because the renaming is controversial or awkward?) they showed those stations dropping the “Barclays” name!  Hooray!  Let’s hope Barclays gets eliminated everywhere form the public system in the future: It’s such a drag to be riding a train and then hear an announcement. . “Next stop. .. .” and then hear that despicable “Barclays” name.

This picture is poor quality but you can see the campaign's motto "Improving, non-stop" at the bottom
Notably, a New York Times article covering the introduction of The Weekender web site (distinct from “The Weekender” map app, covering service changes and expected delays)  chose, albeit it was a year ago, to use a visual that showed the same deletion of the “Barclays” name: See below.
(From: Ahead of Its Time / An Icon Goes Digital, by Stephen Heller, September 16, 2011)
Will Ratner sue the MTA for a breach of contract?  If so it will be interesting to see what they sue for: A small proportion of the infinitesimal $200,000 per year amount they paid for the subway station rights. . . or for the actual “benefit of their bargain” which at the time the MTA handed them the naming rights deal was valued at one hundred times that amount?

Addendum: “Barclays” Center and the CitiField Baseball Stadium Scrubbed From AIANY Subway Corridor Panoply

One more thing in the vein of things one might hope for in the MTA subterranean environment, also in the context of advertising that appears on system walls: A year ago I wrote about how the AIANY (“American Institute of Architects New York”) had plastered the images in the A Train subway entrance corridor under the IFC Center with images that included promotional visuals of the “Barclays” Center and the CitiField baseball stadium.  I referred to it as a “Hall of Shame” of subsidy grabbers and provided what I viewed as my own corrective images.  See: Sunday, November 6, 2011, Rogues Gallery: The AIANY (“American Institute of Architects New York”) Subway Corridor Posters Under the IFC Center Showing “Urbanized”.
AIANY's "Barclays" image October 2011
Another AIANY "Barclays" image from October 2011
One of Noticing New York's corrective images.  More in NNY's 2011 article.
So here is more good news: This year a new set of updated AIANY architectural images are back in that corridor and, AIANY perhaps thinking better of it this time, has eliminated from the panoply any such obviously controversial subsidy-grabbing projects harmful to the public.  See 2012 images below.

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