“Ad trains” may hit Tokyo as early as the fall as the Tokyo Metropolitan Government moves to lift its ban on city trains carrying exterior advertisements, it was learned Thursday.
However, the move is likely to raise the ire of many who fear the deluge of advertisements on such trains will only add to visual pollution in the city.
The plan to allow railway operators to plaster the bodies of their trains with advertisements will be approved at an advisory panel meeting scheduled to be convened in early September, according to officials of the city planning bureau.
The panel, which recommended lifting the ban in its report submitted in February, is likely to greenlight the proposal.
The move comes on the heels of the metro government’s decision in April 2000 to lift the ban on buses carrying exterior advertising.
“We want to carry it out as early as possible since six months have already passed since the submission of the recommendation,” said Takehisa Haneda, head of the bureau’s supervising division.
The ad trains may hit the tracks as soon as the decision is made, since some train operators, including East Japan Railway Co., have already voiced their enthusiasm for this untapped source of advertising revenue, according to the officials.
The metro ordinance presently bans advertisements from being displayed on train bodies. Cases deemed as contributing to the public good are exempted, however, like JR Keihin Tohoku Line’s “Eco-train,” designed to promote awareness of environmental issues.
While Haneda said the ad trains may be introduced this fall if everything goes according to plan, he admitted there are some problems to solve.
Since their debut last year, ad buses featuring celebrities have been popular with the younger demographic. However, the metro government has received complaints from passengers, particularly the elderly, who have difficulty in identifying and distinguishing the correct buses when they are adorned with advertisements.
Some also claim that the likely flood of unregulated train advertisements will further disrupt Tokyo’s scenic beauty. Others fear the ads could be dangerous, distracting commuters as they wait on train platforms.
“We are currently negotiating with industry groups on the creation of an independent regulation committee, since authorities cannot have a say in the content of ads,” Haneda said.
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