New York subways are a funny thing.
It seems like whatever they do, they just can't win. Ask anyone a generation older than myself who has visited and they'll lament about "oh how horrible it used to be" back when they first visited. And I believe that, I mean there are certainly photos that don't leave much to the imagination.
However, ask anyone who is riding the subway to and from work every day now, and they'll probably tell you how they hate it too. New Yorkers and the subway have a love-hate relationship, just without much of the love part. I can't say that I've spoken to any New Yorkers who have experienced out-of-town public transport, but I can certainly imagine that it would help dispel that case of "don't-know-what-you-got" from the majority of the population if they had to try and get somewhere by train in LA once .
Sure, they smell and they're hot during the summer, but I loved the subways. I've never had anything like it growing up in Houston all my life. The closest we have there is a train that will take you from downtown to the medical center—woohoo, exciting. In Manhattan, I could hop on a Lexington Ave train (don't you dare call them by the color of the line) and be at work in Midtown East in 12 minutes from my lodging in the Financial District.
I'm not a people-watcher, but I can imagine the thrill if one were. For me, subways were podcast heaven. I couldn't get over motion sickness in my one summer there, so I resorted to audio learning and was not disappointed. Which leads to my new concern about the immediate future of the subways: video advertising.
New York MTA confirmed recently that they will be installing screens where the current static board are inside all subway cars. Much like digital billboards along highways that we are accustomed to down here in Texas, these will rotate out video content and probably still some static ads. Now, as an audio user on the train rides, I am less concerned for myself than for those people who are readers. If you've ever been on a New York subway before, you know how many ads are already plastered inside of them. Imagine how distracting those bright dancing visuals could be, flashing at you as you try to move from one page to the next.
Sure, maybe I'm inventing that problem. And maybe I shouldn't make a case against it at all because it's my future career (sort of). But for a city dependent on these subways, I'm not sure how much more invasive the advertising can get. There is solace in one fact, however: the ads will be completely silent.