TV on the train?

The GO train is putting its passengers a little closer to their living rooms by installing TV screens on its rail cars.

The screens are showing news, weather, entertainment and sports highlights, but are designed as an advertising vehicle with the expectation they’ll raise $8 million for the transit authority over 10 years.

Public domain image of GO train by Glen LarsonGO trains are commuter services in and out of Toronto; they use nifty little hexagon-shaped double-decker coaches on a few different routes.

I’ve seen the ‘infoscreen’ model in great action on the City-Airport Train (the expensive one) in Vienna, and found it quite funky, especially coming from an airport to a city, as it gave the essential information in a very clear fashion.

One innovative thing about the GO plan is that they will broadcast the accompanying audio on the FM band, so you can ‘listen in’, but those that don’t want to listen don’t have to. Am very curious as to how they’re doing this and what sort of regulatory hurdles they had to jump through. And, indeed, what is ‘it’? Essentially closed circuit slideshows with a coordinated-yet-separate low-power FM signal, I guess. It’s complicated by the fact that one of the frequencies they mention (88.5) is already occupied by CKDX (“Foxy“).

Of course, I have an instinctive hostility towards new attempts to bring commercial messages into neutral public spaces. Not least when they are already publicly funded, and the blurb says things like:

With the increasing competitiveness in the television advertising market, it’s key for advertisers to ensure they spend their ad dollars wisely. By offering television advertising in a captive environment of active upscale professionals we can guarantee advertisers are getting the reach they need to increase their bottom line.

Eeugh. And I thought getting on a train was just using a public service to get to work/college. No, apparently you’re getting into a captive environment of active upscale professional. Silly me.

More information on the project and the outline schedule.

I wonder if they could show reruns of the classic(ally awful) Train 48???