Meet the MTA, Part 3: An Introduction to New York City Commuter Rail Advertising

January 4, 2023

So far we've talked about the transit modalities available within the city and advertising on New York City's subway and bus systems. But the M in MTA stands for Metropolitan because its mission spreads far beyond the five boroughs.

In fact, the MTA network serves a population of 15 million across 5,000 square miles when you add in its two commuter rail networks, which account for two out of every three commuter rail riders in the United States.

New York City commuter rail advertising on Long Island Rail Road
The first, Metro-North, connects NYC to five Hudson Valley counties and Connecticut. The second, the Long Island Rail Road, is the nation's busiest commuter railroad. It extends all the way out to Montauk, running the island’s entire 115-mile length and serving daily commuters as well as weekend vacationers traveling to the Hamptons.

Each of the two regularly sees daily ridership of over 200,000. But who are those passengers? They are younger and higher earning than pre-pandemic commuters, with more than half earning six figures. Today's LIRR or Metro-North rider is also likely to be married and own their own home (SOURCE: Scarborough, New York City DMA A18+ 2023 Release 1 (March 2022-April 2023), Commute/Any Purpose by LIRR Train, Metro-North Train (Last 7 days) in comparison to same report pre-COVID).

That makes this a very valuable audience for brands – so let’s talk about advertising on New York City commuter rail.

NYC Commuter Rail – Station Advertising

Any discussion of NYC commuter rail advertising should start at Grand Central Terminal. This historical landmark and Beaux Arts architectural wonder sees 750,000 visitors each day, with only Times Square attracting more. Tourists here can gaze in wonder at the celestial ceiling mural of the main concourse, marvel at its $20 million four-sided opal clock, explore the Whispering Gallery, and shop Grand Central Market.

Large crowd at Grand Central Terminal - Photo: Getty Images, S. Greg Panosian
Photo: Getty Images, S. Greg Panosian

And oh yeah, in addition to being one of the top ten most-visited places in the world, it's also the second-busiest train station in the United States.

It's all the busier now that 296 LIRR trains daily terminate at Grand Central Madison, a brand-new 16-acre complex built beneath the existing terminal, 140 feet below street level. Previously, only Metro-North trains terminated here – but now, Long Islanders can access the east side of Manhattan without having to double back from Penn Station.

In the stunning main hall of Grand Central Terminal, commuters crisscross to catch their trains underneath a mural depicting the constellations of the night sky. Commuters, luxury shoppers, and tourists have long dwell time in the terminal as they wait for the train, take photos of the historic building and enjoy the many shops, restaurants, and events within Grand Central. Our Digital Dioramas combine vivid resolution and an impactful 101" size to reach them as they do.

Digital dioramas at Grand Central Terminal 
Throughout Grand Central you'll encounter our Liveboard Network. These versatile screens can be found along the Rotunda corridors, within the Train Shed, and at the entrance to the adjacent One Vanderbilt. Grand Central Madison has a Liveboard Network of its own, as well as backlit static dioramas. Our Liveboard Network also includes inventory at Penn Station, which serves Amtrak, Long Island Railroad commuters and NJ Transit passengers, and at nearly 50 stations across the LIRR and Metro-North systems.

Liveboard Network at Grand Central Terminal 
Forty-five Metro-North stations also provide access to our Digital Platform Network, which unlike our Liveboard Network is a landscape-oriented format.

For always-on approach to reaching your audience multiple times a week, driving frequency, we also offer static commuter rail media formats. Advertisers can choose from Kiosks at Metro-North stations and Rail Platform Posters (in one-, two-, and three-sheet varieties) throughout both systems. These formats engage riders as they spend time on the platforms waiting for their train. Advertisers can even combine a strong CTA and a QR code to turn that dwell time into digital activation.

Rail platform posters 
Finally, Rail Station Dominations are available at select stations, including those at premium high-traffic, event-centric stations Citi Field and Yankee Stadium. These targeted immersive experiences are fans' first touch as they venture to their concert, game, or match. It’s an opportunity for brands to connect via contextual relevance.

Rail station domination media 
NYC Commuter Rail – Train Advertising

Like the New York City subway, the interiors of LIRR and Metro-North trains offer a variety of digital and static advertising opportunities. Interior Rail Cards are hard to miss and offer long dwell time and high frequency as commuters repeat their routine, giving advertisers a captive audience for an average of 45 minutes each way (SOURCE: MTA). 

Interior rail card 
Advertisers also have the option of executing an Interior Full Brand Train, where one brand takes over a train car.

Rail interior card
To make a digital impact on LIRR and Metro-North commuters, our Livecard Network reaches 500+ train cars where brands can present full-motion video or static, synchronized content

Livecard network
Then there's the outside of the trains, which unlike the subway travel above ground, making them visible from major highways as they pass through some of the nation's wealthiest towns where traditional out of home is limited. Wrapped Married Pairs cover both sides of a train car with a brand's message. Brands can also wrap four consecutive rail cars on the LIRR Cannonball Express, perfect for reaching Long Island's 7.6 million residents and its 2+ million summer travelers as they kick off their summer weekends.

Wrapped married pair ad on LIRR train
You've now been fully introduced to the MTA! Get in touch and together we can introduce your brand to its passengers.

Author: Jay Fenster, Marketing Manager @ OUTFRONT

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