Transit-Mobile Advertising

Who Rides Public Transit (and Who Cares)?

As a CTA rider in Chicago for the last 15 years, I have been keenly aware of the diversity that can been found on public transit. In fact, the economic melting pot that is the CTA was actually part of what drew me out of rural Illinois and into the big city. There’s just something about the well-dressed businessman sitting next to the underprivileged high school student that screams opportunity.

Granted you won’t see this diversity on every route at every time of the day. But in Chicago, like many of our nation’s largest cities, public transit isn’t just a social safety net — it’s a choice. A choice that is made so evenly across the city, that Chicago’s ridership similarly mirrors the city’s demographics”.

Because of this, seeing an ad for a luxury brand right next to a public service announcement for a food pantry is commonplace on the CTA. We see this in other places too, mostly within our largest cities: NYC, Boston, DC, San Francisco, Seattle, and many others. There’s no mystery here, the advertisers that want to reach public transit riders in a given market are as diverse as the riders themselves.

Here at CommuteStream, we love diversity for a lot of reasons. It might seem insignificant, but when people from different walks of life share something, especially a part of their daily life, it’s almost always a good thing. And from a business perspective for us, it means our pool of potential clients/advertisers is larger and also more diverse. Transit systems with all sorts of riders, attract all sorts of advertisers…

Unfortunately however, the majority of transit systems in the US tend to be far less diverse than Chicago. Most of us are familiar of the stigma against public transit — prevalent in most of America. This bias presents a significant challenge when trying to get the general population to get on a bus. But, times are changin’, with the catalyst being, like most things these days: technology and millennials.

Today, transit agencies have access to unprecedented technologies and insight that can bring their service to new levels of accessibility and efficiency. And, getting “choice” riders out of their cars and on to the train is a very serious goal for an increasing number of these agencies. This, along with a rising population, increasing population density in many of our cities, and a new generation of Americans who are decidedly more pragmatic when it comes to transportation choices, all bode very well for public transit in the US and a major shift in its ridership. This increase in diversity, coupled with more than a decade of public transit growth exceeding the growth of the population make Transit Advertising a very interesting industry to be a part of.

We’re happy to be along for the “ride”, and very pleased to be reaching a growing and increasingly diverse audience with our Transit-Mobile Advertising. Let us help make your advertising stand out to the riders you care about most. Learn more at

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