The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), referred to simply as Metro, is a tri-jurisdictional (DC, Maryland, and Virginia) government agency created by Congress that operates the Metrorail and Metrobus transit services in the Washington metropolitan area and paratransit for people with disabilities. Metro’s board of directors consists of two voting representatives each from the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, and the U.S. federal government. The sale of advertising on Metrobuses and in the Metrorail system is handled exclusively by OUTFRONT Media. On November 5, 2015, the Metro Board’s Finance and Administration Committee issued a 116-page Advertising and Retail Policy Review that includes these two debatable points:
- In May 2015, the board of directors closed WMATA’s advertising space to any and all issue-oriented advertising, including but not limited to political, religious, and advocacy advertising, until the end of the calendar year, directing staff to seek public comment and participation regarding the role advertising should play with respect of WMATA’s primary core mission to provide safe, reliable public transportation.
- After considering input from riders and other stakeholders, WMATA staff recommend continuing the prohibition of issue-oriented and advocacy advertising indefinitely, as it may provoke community discord and create concern about discriminatory statements on the system, as well as potential threats to safety and security from those who seek to oppose the ad messages.