In an F train’s Jaguar ad, car culture vs. transit cultureBy
While heading from Manhattan to the Double Windsor to enjoy the New York City debut of Bell’s Brewery’s delicious beers, I hopped off the A at Jay St. to catch an arriving Coney Island-bound F train. Lo and behold, it was the rare Jaguar-branded F. I had heard much about this rare creature, and my transit-loving heart skipped a beat as this wrapped train arrived.
Upon alighting at 15th Street-Prospect Park, I snapped a few pictures of the train. It’s a silly bit of advertising, designed to make the MTA some money while appealing to our cultural prejudice against public transit. Even in New York City, the ads proclaim, the Jaguar F type is faster than the Transit Authority’s F train. It’s a silly conceit in New York City where congestion rules the day, and the F, generally, can get a straphanger to his or her destination just as fast as a car at peak hours.
Not everyone is enamored with this ad. When it hit the rails a few weeks ago, Streetsblog accused the MTA of undermining its mission with an ad that insults riders. “One costs around $2 per trip while the other starts at $69,000 — plus taxes, license fees, insurance, parking, gas, and maintenance,” Brad Aaron wrote, “Seriously, who sees this ad and thinks, ‘I believe I’ll trade my MetroCard for a $1,500 a month debt load’? The F train doesn’t have a top speed of whatever, but it can get from 14th Street to Prospect Park with just 12 stops in between. And there’s no battling the horn-honking morass at the toll-free East River bridges.”
I wouldn’t take it that far, and from the inside, I had no idea the train was wrapped in a Jaguar ad. Still, it was something new and different, and it generates some revenue from the cash-starved authority. It won’t cover the cost of providing toll relief across the Verrazano Bridge, and it may be too reminiscent of full-car graffiti bombings in the 1980s. But it’s just an ad. It is but a balm for hurt minds even as car culture and transit culture collide spectacularly.