'Winter Is Coming' for NYC's Subway System
Game of Thrones superfans in New York (or visitors) can now make the show and its upcoming final season part of their daily commutes.
As a means of getting viewers to tune into to its final return to TV in April, GoT has taken over the MTA with themed MetroCards. Exclusively distributed from Grand Central Station (which will also be decked out in 150 GoT posters), MetroCards with the hashtag #ForTheThrone will feature various beloved GoT characters such as Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen, Cersei Lannister and more in some of their most memorable show moments.
The promotion is available while supplies last. Which, unfortunately, might not be a very long time. As of now, the MTA has only printed about 250,000 MetroCards, which likely cost HBO around $112,500 to fund. And that is money the transportation body badly needs.
According to the New York Daily News, it cost the MTA more than $15 billion a year to run the tri-state area transit network 24/7 in 2017. About $685 million of that funding comes from reimbursements for paratransit service, senior and student fares, rents, parking, investment income and, of course, advertising. On top of that, the MTA estimated that it will lose $215 million in revenue from subway and bus fare evasion as well as face a $1 billion budget deficit in the next three years. Ad campaigns like this and the David Bowie MetroCards from April 2018, are, according to the MTA, an "extremely important" source of revenue.
"The front and back of MetroCards provide advertisement revenue, and we have worked with several clients to promote their products on our MetroCards, which reach millions of customers who take the subway, bus, Staten Island Railway and NJ PATH," the MTA said in a statement to TPG. "Some clients choose to advertise on both sides of the card, others choose just the back. Advertisers reach out to us, and we work with them to accommodate their requests as much as possible."
Aside from some budgetary issues, New York's subways are suffering from frequent delays (as any New Yorker will gladly rant about if given the chance). Weekday passengers suffered delays on 56,139 trains in October alone. The MTA, however, says that delays are actually slightly improving. According to the New York Post, on-time train performance hit 70% in October 2018 as compared to 62% in May 2017.