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WMATA Announces Pilot Program for Touch-Screen Displays

Capitol South is 1 of 8 stations with the touch-creen displays. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Capitol South is 1 of 8 stations with the touch-creen displays. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Riders at Capitol South might notice something different about the Metro station as they travel to the Capitol this week: A six-foot interactive display.  

The Washington Area Metro Transit Authority announced Monday it has launched a pilot program installing interactive touch-screen displays in eight Metro stations, providing information on train arrivals and departures, station and area maps, as well as a unique advertisement capability. “Digital displays enhance the customers’ journey through way-finding and real-time information, and provide enhanced revenue opportunity for WMATA,” said Jeremy Male, chairman and chief executive officer of OUTFRONT Media, in a release announcing the program. “Relevant and changeable ad messaging based on criteria such as time of day, weather, and other sales triggers is extremely appealing to advertisers.”  

Sherri Ly, a spokesperson for WMATA, said OUTFRONT, the agency’s advertising contractor, paid for the pilot program, so installing the current displays came at no cost to WMATA. Ly noted the displays have the potential to display multiple ads in one location, and could allow for more targeted advertisements.  

“Our advertising contractor has these already in New York City and some other transit systems and they’ve been highly successful there,” Ly said in a phone interview.  

In addition to Capitol South, the displays have also been installed at Gallery Place, Metro Center, Farragut North, Farragut West, Foggy Bottom, Pentagon and Federal Triangle.  

“We decided to put them into some of our highest trafficked areas,” said Ly, “and places where people are going to see them and where people are going to use them.”  

The pilot program will last three to six months, after which WMATA will assess how the displays performed for riders and advertisers. The interactive display will allow riders to see the entire Metro map, zero in on one line, and learn station information such as bus connections and availability for parking, car sharing and bike racks.  

Ly could not speak to the cost of the displays if the program is successful, but noted again that WMATA was not paying for any of the screens currently installed at Metro stations.  

“We’re really excited about having these,” Ly said. “I think the riders are going to like the inter-activity.”  

Four adverstiers have signed on to use the digital displays, including Brandywine Valley, Graduate School USA, Providence Hospital, and the marketplace lender Sofi. The release also noted that only commercial ads will be displayed.  

At the end of May, WMATA opted to suspend “issue-oriented” ads until the end of the year. The decision came after Pamela Geller, architect of the “Draw Muhammad” contest, submitted ads depicting the Prophet of Islam, though Islam forbids images of Muhammad.


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